Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson
Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson will seek a second term on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. Credit: Contributed photo

Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson will seek a second term on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, saying he is proud of his accomplishments so far and wants to continue working on various issues key to the communities he represents. 

Nelson, 44, who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than three decades, ran for the job in 2020, and took office in 2021 during COVID-19’s second year.

During his first 12 months, he served as board chair due to the regular rotation for the job of wielding the gavel.

“I feel now we’re finally getting some momentum on some of our initiatives that I wanted to run on the first place, including fighting for more funding for North County projects and North County programs,” he said. 

“The other thing that’s been hard on this term is a changing district,” Nelson added.

Due to redistricting following the 2020 Census, the Fourth District changed in the middle of Nelson’s first term. Initially he represented two distinct communities — Orcutt and the city of Lompoc. The latter now falls in the Third District. 

Nelson’s re-election bid had been expected, but whether he would face a challenger remains unknown four months before the primary election.

A political newcomer, Krishna Flores, filed a statement of organization form in mid-October that a campaign committee has been created, but has not submitted paperwork to officially become a candidate.

The Fourth District now includes a large segment of southern Santa Maria, along with multiple unincorporated communities — Orcutt, Los Alamos, Vandenberg Village, Garey, Sisquoc, Casmalia and Tepusquet Canyon. It also includes Vandenberg Space Force Base.

As he represented the various small communities, Nelson also had to learn the various concerns of residents in each area, something he said normally would occur during a campaign. 

“That’s been another challenge the last four years,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to taking where we’ve gotten to this point and adding another four years on to that to continue to fight for the some of the programs we’re working on right now.”

That includes libraries, public trails, parking, traffic flow, homelessness, public safety and more. For instance, he lobbied hard for a community-resource deputy in his district including Orcutt and Los Alamos.

“While we still face significant challenges in these areas, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish, working together,” Nelson said. ”I am eager to continue working on behalf of our community. In these challenging times, having experienced, community-oriented leadership in local government is key to helping our communities thrive.

Nelson grew up in Orcutt and married his high school sweetheart, Jamie. They have three children.

The Righetti High School graduate worked as a school teacher, and then became chief of staff for former Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam, who served two terms and decided not to seek a third, clearing the way for Nelson. 

In addition to his former boss, Nelson’s early endorsements include the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff’s’ Association, the Santa Barbara County FireFighters Association, retired Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone, and current Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino.

Nelson’s campaign website can be found by clicking here.

The Fourth District seat is one of three on the Board of Supervisors with terms ending in 2024. 

The First District seat is currently filled by Das Williams, who faces at least one challenger, Carpinteria City Council’s Roy Lee

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann’s term also ends this year, with the incumbent reportedly facing at least one challenger, Frank Troise. 

The county supervisor races will appear on the March 5 presidential primary ballot, with registered voters in the district voting on their supervisor races. 

If any candidate does not get more than 50% of the votes, the race will appear on the Nov. 5 presidential election ballot.

The new terms for whoever wins the three seats will start in January 2025, when the winners of the three races will join Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Second District Supervisor Laura Capps on the board.