From left, Meagan Harmon, Barrett Reed and Randy Rowse
From left, Meagan Harmon, Barrett Reed and Randy Rowse are the top fundraisers in the races for seats on the Santa Barbara City Council, which will be decided in Tuesday’s election.

After 10 months of campaigning, Election Day is here, and it’s anyone’s guess who will stand victorious.

Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo is running for a second term against five challengers, in a contest that has political watchers vexed.

If fundraising determined winners, then former councilman Randy Rowse is looking good. He leads all candidates in fundrasing with $309,000.

Rowse, who owned the Paradise Cafe, a popular restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara, served on the council for nine years.

Murillo has raised $179,000, in addition to $50,000 she received in 2020, bringing her grand total to $229,000.

Murillo was also outspent leading up to her 2017 mayoral campaign, when she raised $168,000

Raising the most money is no guarantee of victory. Business executive Angel Martinez raised $323,000, only to finish fourth, behind Murillo, Frank Hotchkiss and Hal Conklin.

Trailing Murillo in fundraising is Deborah Schwartz, who has brought in $150,000. She has served on the city Planning Commission for 12 years. 

Candidate James Joyce III, founder of Coffee With a Black Guy, has raised $72,000. He is also the former field representative for former assemblymember Das Williams and the former district director for former state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Candidate Mark Whitehurt, who publishes a weekly newspaper, has raised $13,000

Two other seats are up for grabs. 

Incumbent District 4 candidate Kristen Sneddon has raised $87,000. She was elected in 2017.

Sneddon teaches environmental geology at Santa Barbara City College.

Her challenger, Barrett Reed, has raised $264,000, more than any candidate on Tuesday’s ballot, other than Rowse.

Reed is the owner of the Miramar Group, a firm that specializes in commercial real estate investment, development, management and brokerage.

Meagan Harmon was appointed to the District 6 seat on the City Council in 2019, after Gregg Hart was elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Although she is the incumbent, Harmon has never appeared on a ballot, so it’s unclear how popular she is among voters.

Harmon has raised $123,000 to keep her seat. She is a Harvard graduate, an attorney, and a member of the California Coastal Commission.

It looked like Harmon would skate to a full first-term, but then longtime city employee Nina Johnson jumped into the contest.

Johnson, who is on a leave of absence from her job as senior assistant to the city administrator, has raised about $104,000.

Two other District 6 candidates are in the race. Jason Carlton has raised $7,500, and Zachary Pike has not raised any money, according to public filings.

Eric Friedman is unopposed in the District 5 race.

The winners of Tuesday’s election will receive 5-year terms until 2026, instead of the normal four years, because the city is moving toward even-year elections. 

As of Monday, about 14,500 had voted citywide in the various contests.

Voter turnout was highest in District 4, with about 4,059 ballots received. Only about 1,900 ballots have been cast in District 6.

The third highest district turnout is in District 5, with about 3,221 people casting ballots.

In District 2, on the Mesa, about 3,212 people have voted. In District 3 on the Westside, 985 people cast ballots. On the Eastside, in District 1, 1,277 people have voted. 

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