There are four candidates running for the two seats available on the Isla Vista Community Service District Board of Directors in November’s election.

The district was founded in 2016 after residents voted to create it and, two years later, approved a utility-user tax to provide funding for it. 

Olivia Craig and Enrique José “Henry” Sarria are running for the 2-year term on the district board.

Craig, a political science and environmental studies sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, is on the executive board of the UCSB Democrats Club.

Although Craig is only 19, she began her career in politics her junior year of high school when she participated in a program called the Nevada Youth Legislature, a 2-year program where state senators from Nevada work with teenagers to teach them about bill draft proposals and the legislative processes.

At the end of the program, the group of teenagers selects one bill to submit to the state legislature. 

The bill — SB 108 — that Craig’s group submitted focused on implicit-bias training in the juvenile-justice system, and was recently passed into law in Nevada.

Olivia Craig

Olivia Craig

Craig also interned with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which sets the environmental regulations and works with policy within the Lake Tahoe Basin, which is where Craig is from.

Craig said that during this internship, she worked on a transportation-equity study she said is something that the community services district will be doing this year. 

The three issues Craig hopes to address if elected are the student housing crisis, transportation, and mental-health issues.

Craig said she will work with UCSB to apply for grants and alternative modes of funding to build housing projects in Isla Vista, as well as community housing projects for non-student residents in in the community.

“We have students that are homeless living in their cars, and also just absurd rent prices in Isla Vista. It’s so expensive to live here,” Craig said. “And so, you know, I really think that is the major issue facing students at this time.”

As an environmental studies major, Craig said that improving public transportation is a significant way to reduce emissions. 

“There are things like micro transit options, or even just improving the bus routes and things like that, that I’d like to see happen so that it’s a system that people without a car can take advantage of more, and it’s realistic for them,” Craig said.

She said she would like to see the expansion of mental-health services within Isla Vista for non-UCSB students because they don’t have access to the same programs that UCSB students have.

Henry Sarria

Henry Sarria

“Isla Vista is a very separate community, like we are not part of Santa Barbara,” Craig said. “We have very different issues and things facing the people that live here. And so you know, the IV CSD has been a great way to kind of help solve some of those, you know, like looking at public safety.”

Sarria has been an Isla Vista resident for 35 years. He was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to the United States when he was 7 years old.

“To be running for political office — everybody says, ‘Well, why did you wait so long?’ I go, ‘Well, I just got my citizenship on Jan. 22, 2020.”

Although the seat Sarria is running for has traditionally been reserved for students, Sarria sees the 2-year post as a good starting position.

Sarria said he is running because he feels that certain aspects of the community are underrepresented, or not represented in the light that they should be.

“There tends to be an us-versus-them,” Sarria said. “Police versus the students, people, homeowners on the west end versus the students.”

He also said that Latinos are among the most underrepresented demographics in the community.

Sarria wants to bring a recycling center back to Isla Vista, implement a program to shred sensitive documents for students moving out at the end of the school year, and create a no-car zone for a stretch of Pardall Road, from Embarcadero Del Norte to Embarcadero Del Mar.

“We’re not a city or a town, we’re still a district. That doesn’t mean we’re not a community, and that’s the biggest selling point about Isla Vista that I tell people, is that we are a community,” Sarria said. “We all get along. We can all get along. Let’s try to get along.”

Julia Barbosa, Spencer Brandt Running, Jay Freeman for 4-Year Term on CSD Board

Julia Barbosa and Spencer Brandt are both running for the 4-year term on the district board of directors. 

Barbosa is seeking the office because she wants to represent the voices of minority groups in Isla Vista, and wants to see tax revenues used to improve safety issues and work towards a cleaner community. 

“Residents fund the IVCSD via taxes that are levied on our utility bills. I want to see those taxes used optimally and according to the powers granted to the district upon its formation,” Barbosa wrote in an email to Noozhawk.

Incumbent Brandt has been on the board of directors since it was created in 2016. He joined the board his freshman year at UCSB, where he majored in history. 

Spencer Brandt

Spencer Brandt

Brandt said when he came to Isla Vista as a UCSB student, he was excited to be around the lively culture and beautiful environment. He also addressed challenges that residents face.

“I was living in a 3-bedroom household with 10 other people, four people in one room. It was not an environment that was conducive to success,” Brandt said. “On top of that, many of my friends didn’t feel safe when walking home at night, and I wanted to be a part of an effort to try to address these challenges.”

Since joining the community service district, Brandt took steps to improve the public safety in the community, such as installing more streetlights to make it safer for people to walk home at night; working with law enforcement and advocates for survivors of sexual violence to create crisis counseling and more resources; providing funding for a detective working on the backlog of sexual assault investigations; and expanding safety officer escort services.  

“I’m really proud to say that I feel much safer in our communities than I did when I came here six years ago,” Brandt said.

If elected to the board for the next four years, Brandt said he would continue efforts to build the community center into a thriving space, and make the community more sustainable.

Brandt said that Isla Vista now has a community center after advocating for one for 50 years.

“I’m proud that we have finally been able to secure that facility and to open it up for the public to enjoy programming, including dance and exercise classes,” Brandt said.

The community center is a way for student and non-student residents to gain access to different cultures and services, and programming that’s provided at UCSB. 

Brandt said he wants to continue to make the community more sustainable.

“We’re the first local government in Santa Barbara County that has offered residential food scrap collection services through the Isla Vista compost collective,” Brandt said.

Brandt said the district is also working on creating a community mobility plan that will lay the foundation to make it easier for people to use public transit. 

“The key to addressing climate change at the local level is to make it easier for people to get out of their vehicles,” Brandt said. “So I really am running in part to see those efforts through, to make sure that we’re able to accomplish these goals.”

Jay Freeman who is currently on the Community Service District is also running for the board position. Freeman failed to respond to Noozhawk’s request to comment.

Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.