Gregg Hart

Gregg Hart

Santa Barbara City Councilman Gregg Hart received the endorsement of the influential Santa Barbara County Democratic Party on Thursday in his bid for Second District County Supervisor.

Hart has yet to formally declare his candidacy, but has pulled papers to consider a run.

He told Noozhawk that he plans a formal announcement soon.

“I made the 60 percent threshold and got the endorsement,” Hart told Noozhawk just after the vote, Thursday. “I am proud to have the Democratic Party endorsement and very excited about the campaign.”

Hart will face off against Susan Epstein in the June primary.

Epstein, a member of the Goleta Union School District Board of Trustees, also sought the endorsement, but has considerably less cache in Democratic circles than Hart, a party soldier for nearly two decades.

Epstein said she has many other endorsements that she is proud of. 

“I look forward to a meaningful debate on the issues,” Epstein said.

“I have strong support across the whole Second District, and I’m proud of the more than 125 endorsements from community leaders I’ve received so far. I will continue to work hard, listen to voters’ concerns and ideas, and win the election in June. I will represent all the voters of this District as Supervisor, regardless of their party, just as I have as a school board member.”

Hart, a Santa Barbara native whose father was once the city’s library director, spent two terms on the City Council in the 1990s and early 2000s.

He played political chess as well, strategically deciding when to run, and perhaps more importantly, when not to run, to avoid conflict with Democratic party leaders.

He took a break from public service to spend more time with his son and family, but then was re-elected to the Santa Barbara City Council in 2013.

He is well-liked among liberals, moderates and many conservatives for his reasoned approach to the issues and political acumen.

Hart also works as the deputy executive director of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, which is made up of elected officials from each of the elected bodies in the county.

Hart cruised to re-election on the City Council this past November, raising more than $120,000, but spent very little, raising speculation that he was planning to seek Janet Wolf’s second-district seat.

Susan Epstein

Susan Epstein

Wolf decided at the end of 2017 that she wouldn’t seek re-election after serving three terms.

The supervisor seat is on the June ballot but if no one candidate gets a majority of votes — likely if a third candidate enters the race — a November runoff will be held for the top two vote-getters.

Epstein declared her candidacy in early January and is endorsed by Wolf and several other elected officials.

If she is elected to supervisor, she would leave her Goleta Union board seat early, as her term ends in 2020. 

If Hart wins the supervisor seat, he would leave his council seat vacant with three years left in the term.

The City Council is already holding a special election in June to fill the vacant District 3 Westside seat previously held by Cathy Murillo, who was elected mayor in November.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.