As part of Noozhawk’s Nov. 2 Santa Barbara City Council election coverage, we are publishing Q&As with candidates running for mayor and City Council seats. Candidate answers may be lightly edited for spelling and formatting, but are otherwise presented as they were submitted.
For mayor, candidates include James Joyce III, Matt Kilrain, Cathy Murillo, Randy Rowse, Deborah Schwartz, and Mark Whitehurst.
Two candidates are running for the District 4 seat: Barrett Reed and Kristen Sneddon. District 5 incumbent Eric Friedman is running unopposed.
There are four candidates on the ballot for the District 6 seat, including Jason Carlton, Meagan Harmon, Nina Johnson and Zachary Pike.
Mayoral Candidate Randy Rowse
Noozhawk: Many residents responding to a Noozhawk survey said current City Council members have not been visible during the pandemic and are not always responsive to citizen concerns. If elected, how will you make yourself accessible to your constituents? Will you hold in-person office hours? Personally respond to emails and calls? Attend public community events?
Randy Rowse: City Hall is not a fortress that hides its elected representatives. The most valuable work that a Mayor can do is performed outside of its walls, particularly when disaster strikes. I was always responsive as a Councilmember and, in fact, people have continued to reach out to me even after I left office, because I will answer the phone, email or request to meet. If someone wants to meet, sure, I can do “office hours” or, better yet, I can go to them. They pay us to do that.
Noozhawk: What is your long-term vision for downtown State Street and live/work options in the downtown core? What is your plan for reducing the number of vacant storefronts in that area?
Randy Rowse: That’s a very large compound question. State Street needs serious cleaning and lighting to become an even more attractive place to live and work and make the promenade more vibrant. We need to approach the projects that are in the pipeline to enable them to come to fruition sooner than later. We need to know why certain proposed live/work projects were abandoned.
Working with those who have and will create those projects in the downtown core will yield far more valuable insight than and outside consultant or the next committee. Once we get the downtown core clean and well-lit, it will help bring the safe and secure atmosphere that has been lacking to attract tenants. That idea comes from the stakeholders who have lease space available.
Noozhawk: Can you please define equity, and what your approach would be to make city government more diverse and more representative of the community it represents?
Randy Rowse: To me, equity means robust and open opportunity, particularly if we can staff our organization with people who already live here. Recruitment should encourage the range of our young population who have the passion to make the city a better place to live. No barriers, neither actual nor perceived, should exist in our city’s employment structure.
Noozhawk: How will you reduce the number of homeless encampments, unhoused people, and homeless-related nuisance crimes in Santa Barbara?
Randy Rowse: Boundaries for behavior need to be established and maintained, utilizing non-sworn personnel where possible. Tolerance of nuisance crimes is in no way compassionate and serves no one. Encampments cannot be allowed to exist for health, safety and humane reasons. As we set the pace for controlling lawless behavior, we will be able to identify those most truly in need of professional services. Coordination with the appropriate resources is often murky at best and leads to duplication of effort. The numbers are manageable if we show the willingness to maintain order.
Noozhawk: How should Santa Barbara respond to Senate Bill 9, which allows for duplex development (up to four units) in single-family-zoned neighborhoods?
Randy Rowse: I feel that SB 9 should be resisted as strongly as possible. The force-feeding of greater density will affect low and middle-income neighborhoods by gentrifying single family homes and creating market-rate (not affordable) housing. Increased density doesn’t equate to affordability. Traffic and parking will increase to the point of diminishing our quality of life. Those who labored their entire lives to obtain a single-family residence will find their dream dashed by this legislation.
Noozhawk: What can Santa Barbara do, that it’s not already doing, to reduce climate-change-related hazards for its residents and move toward a more sustainable future in terms of energy and water resources?
Randy Rowse: We must move to bolster our public safety response capability for the accelerated pattern of climate-related disasters, and the potential for aging energy infrastructure failures such as the recent one in Huntington Beach. This can be financed through negotiated energy company assessments. Ways must be explored to produce our energy needs on this side of the mountains to reduce our dependence on high power lines crossing the wild lands. The desire to increase housing development and density has to be balanced against the natural carrying capacity of this region for water, energy and the treatment of wastewater.