Natalia Alarcon and Wade Nomura Backed By Carpinteria’s Anti-Cannabis Contingent
This November, three candidates are running for Carpinteria’s five-member city council: Mayor Wade Nomura, a former professional skateboarder; Mark McIntire, a former Santa Barbara City College philosophy professor; and Natalia Alarcon, a nonprofit program manager and clinical psychologist. Of the trio, Nomura, an incumbent, is the only candidate with any experience in city politics. McIntire, a former Santa Barbara Community College philosophy professor, is running as a conservative libertarian ideologically aligned with Andy Caldwell and various other local pro-Trump candidates, all of whom are pledging to fight against “socialism.”
In January, Fred Shaw, the most liberal member of Carpinteria’s city council, is leaving office. Campaigning in his stead is Alarcon, who, if elected, will work with Nomura to provide better leadership in the city’s ongoing struggle with cannabis cultivators on county property surrounding the city. Both Nomura and Alarcon are backed by Concerned Carpinteria, an anti-cannabis group representing local homeowners opposed to the industry, mostly over odor issues.
Alarcon, who was born in Chile, moved to Carpinteria when she was eight years old, attended high school there, majored in history at UC Santa Barbara, and went on to receive a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University. “I spent the majority of my adult life in the nonprofit sector,” she said. “My focus is to give back to the community by overseeing programs as a program manager.”
As a COVID-19-era clinician, Alarcon now provides teletherapy to clients when she’s not busy raising her three children, 8, 3, and 2, or serving on local school boards to increase parent and community engagement as well as Santa Barbara’s Rental Housing Mediation Program board. But until Shaw announced his intention to retire, Alarcon hadn’t particularly followed city politics. “The more I started attending the meetings the more I saw no diversity at all,” she said. “Our community is fifty percent Hispanic or Latino, and clearly we don’t have representation on the dais.”
Alarcon is relatively quiet when it comes to the track record of Carpinteria’s City Council when it comes to cannabis. “It’s a big issue still,” she says. “I get it. I do think they’ve done a great job with the cards they’ve been dealt.” That said, Alarcon worries that the council is out of touch with the socio-economic factors that threaten to make Carpinteria less affordable to many residents.
“We’ve started to see a trend where a lot of young families like mine can’t afford to live here and have to move to Ventura and Oxnard, but still want to keep kids enrolled in our schools,” she said. “We need to look at more affordable housing solutions for our community. I’m not the typical candidate, as you can see by looking at the majority of people on the council, but I think I represent a lot of people who live here. People want to keep Carpinteria small but also be affordable to keep living here.”