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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 1:19 am | Light Rain 59º


Third District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Candidates Face Off At Goleta Chamber Forum

Bob Field, Jay Freeman, Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter are running for the seat of outgoing supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents Santa Ynez, Goleta and Isla Vista

Candidates for the Third District Santa Barbara County supervisor election gathered for a forum Wednesday at the Glen Annie Golf Club. From left: Bob Field, Jay Freeman, Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter.
Candidates for the Third District Santa Barbara County supervisor election gathered for a forum Wednesday at the Glen Annie Golf Club. From left: Bob Field, Jay Freeman, Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter.      (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The four candidates running for Third District County Supervisor gathered for the first time Wednesday to field questions from an overflowing room of Goleta Valley business leaders.

Infrastructure, workforce housing, economic development and agriculture were issues of interest at the forum hosted by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Glen Annie Golf Club.

The candidates — Bob Field, Jay Freeman, Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter — will compete for the seat of outgoing Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents Santa Ynez, Goleta and Isla Vista.

Peter Brown of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck moderated the forum, giving a brief introduction before going into questions.

Field, an 18-year resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, is a retired tech entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in public and private water agencies. He described himself as an old-fashioned conservative with a focus on protecting the rural character of the county.

Freeman has lived in Goleta and Isla Vista for 16 years, serves as vice president of the Isla Vista Downtown Business Association and owns a tech consulting business in Isla Vista called Saurik IT. He said he’s a fast study and boasted he has more stamina for this job than “everyone else up here combined.”

Porter, a retired U.S. Army colonel, moved to Buellton 15 years ago. He became a financial adviser and serves as president of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District board of education.

Hartmann has served as the Third District representative on the county Planning Commission since 2013, resigning from that post last year to run for Farr’s seat. She’s also served as a court-appointed advocate for children and spent time as a teacher and professor.

Infrastructure came up first, with Field saying he liked the failed Measure M maintenance-funding ballot measure proposed by Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam.

Hartmann sided with the rest of the current Board of Supervisors, clarifying that the county is already setting aside 18 percent of future growth for infrastructure maintenance.

“We don’t want to invest so much in it that we don’t have enough for other needs,” Hartmann said. “It’s a very difficult balance they have to make.”

Goleta Mayor Jim Farr asked supervisor candidates if they would be willing to reopen the revenue neutrality agreement between Goleta and Santa Barbara County. Click to view larger
Goleta Mayor Jim Farr asked supervisor candidates if they would be willing to reopen the revenue neutrality agreement between Goleta and Santa Barbara County.          (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

She said the county needed the new North County jail, and she hoped the county would look toward untapped state funding to enhance infrastructure funding.

Porter said it’s going to take years to dig out of the current unfunded maintenance hole, calling on entrepreneurs and businesses to help the government operate more like them.

“The reality is, we pay for it,” Freeman said, advocating for an oil suspension tax if companies keep drilling.

All four candidates said they would work to reopen the oil pipeline closed after last May’s Refugio Oil Spill off the Gaviota coast, but Hartmann was the only person pushing to look at new energy sources.

Porter was the sole candidate not to completely rule out trucking oil instead of using pipelines.

Field reiterated one point time and again, saying cities should be responsible for some issues instead of the county, including infrastructure and workforce housing.

“The government spends way too much money on itself,” he said.

Hartmann encouraged more mixed-use projects, senior developments and employers providing worker housing.

Porter suggested companies could open in Lompoc or Santa Maria — where there’s plenty of space by comparison — but Field refuted the idea that jobs could move anywhere.

Freeman recommended looking at tactical density increases instead of sprawl, without developing too much open space.

Hartmann outlined her four points of focus: developing downtown areas, supporting agriculture, developing a more balanced energy and water infrastructure and facilitating a countywide prosperity program targeting areas for growth.

Goleta Mayor Jim Farr asked the candidates if they would reopen a discussion of Goleta’s revenue neutrality agreement with the county, which locks the city in to pay the county an additional portion of its tax revenue in perpetuity.

Every candidate said they would revisit the issue, noting the length of the agreement — forever — seemed unfair and that perhaps the boundaries of Goleta should be readdressed at the same time.

Former Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco asked the final question, whether Field was taking his candidacy seriously considering he entered the race last-minute and gave $1,000 to Hartmann’s campaign late last year.

“I don’t want it back,” Field said of his donation. “I think she could be a fine supervisor. I’m in because I’m not happy with the other right-of-center candidate.”

Field said he was ready to take on the job full time, with his candidacy as the natural next step in his public service career.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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