Brouhaha Brewing?

By Nick Masuda   |   August 19, 2021
Meagan Harmon

Meanwhile, just down the road in District 6, the race between incumbent Meagan Harmon and well-known challenger Nina Johnson took an unexpected twist due to a local podcast featuring Ed St. George, the owner of St. George & Associates, who has historically been outspoken when it comes to politics and small business topics in Santa Barbara.

On “Santa Barbara Talks,” a local podcast hosted by journalist Josh Molina, St. George discussed the race between Harmon and Johnson, seemingly showing support for Johnson with his comments that Harmon should “take a five- to seven-year pause on what you’re doing,” referring to Harmon’s young family that features a four-year-old and a baby on the way.

“I’ve also known a lot of women executives, high powered, really, really driven women and almost all of them have taken about a five- to seven-year pause when they have children. And I don’t know if any of them regret it,” St. George said.

Harmon not only serves on City Council, but she is also a lawyer and was recently named to the California Coastal Commission by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The comments caught the attention of a plethora of elected female officials, including Harmon.

“My reaction was ‘This is exactly why more women don’t run for office,’” said Harmon. “It’s sad that in 2021 we still find ourselves in a place where women are attacked and shamed for our personal lives: for our careers, our families, the way we mother — for our private choices, not just our professional ones,” Harmon told the Montecito Journal.

“Sadly, this is something all women still experience, especially women with families.”

In addition, St. George’s words were the subject of a statement from the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, with President Luz Reyes-Martin offering it proactively to the Montecito Journal. The statement had the support of a plethora of local female leaders such as Santa Barbara Unified School District board members Laura Capps and Kate Ford, as well as former U.S. Representative Lois Capps, among dozens of others. For the full list, see the bottom of this story.

“Women belong at every table where decisions are being made and it is not up to men to be the arbiters of a woman’s personal decisions or ambitions. When women lead in government and other sectors, they are far more likely to work collaboratively and forge effective policies in support of the well-being of children, families and all people — especially the most marginalized.”

“We stand with all women in our community and recognize that Black, Indigenous, Latina, and women of color are disproportionately impacted by sexism and barriers to leadership. Misogyny, in any form, has no home in Santa Barbara County. And no, the women of Santa Barbara will not take a pause.”

The fallout from the conversation also prompted Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Das Williams to lament that St. George’s comments presented a “double standard” for male and female politicians.

“I appreciate the good Ed does in the community, and that is why I am so disappointed that he would apply a double standard against Meagan that he would not against me,” Williams told the Montecito Journal. “Politics, like many careers, is not something you can ‘take a break’ from and pick back up. I have small children that do take an enormous amount of my time and energy, but no one’s telling me to take a break and they should not expect someone as talented as Meagan to do so.”

Meanwhile, Johnson did not offer comment on the video, indicating that she hadn’t seen it.

“I announced my candidacy a week ago and I’m focusing on my campaign,” Johnson told the Montecito Journal.

St. George had not replied to written requests for comment as of press time.

In the interview, St. George called Harmon’s path a “blind obsession to grow,” indicating that he had done something similar, admitting regret for missing his child’s early years.

St. George also listed off Harmon’s six “full-time” jobs: wife, mother, lawyer, Coastal Commission, and City Council — the latter two in which she makes roughly $50,500 per year.

Harmon believes that she isn’t alone in being chastised for wanting to grow — both as a mom and in her career.

“My ambition is to make Santa Barbara the best place it can be for the people who live here, and I am thankful to have a career that allows me to give back to the community in meaningful ways. Women in leadership positions, especially younger women and women of color, continue to be negatively labelled as ambitious for their hard work and commitment,” Harmon said.

“All of us, regardless of race, gender, age, or family status, should be encouraged to act on our energy, intellect, and passion for public service — not shamed for it.”

Here is the list of names that have signed on in support of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee’s statement, as of Wednesday at 10 am:

  • Luz Reyes-Martín
  • Laura Capps
  • Jonathan Abboud
  • Lois Capps
  • Monique Limón
  • Joan Hartmann
  • Spencer Brandt
  • Kristen Sneddon
  • Spencer Brandt
  • Lisa Guravitz
  • Fred Shaw
  • Janet Wolf
  • Paula Perotte
  • Steve Bennett
  • Beth Schneider
  • Mike Jordan
  • Hannah-Beth Jackson
  • James Kyriaco
  • Kyle Richards
  • Ethan Bertrand
  • Rose Muñoz
  • Lauren Hanson
  • Susan Rose
  • Meagan Harmon
  • Natalia Alarcon
  • Das Williams
  • Gregg Hart
  • Jane Gray
  • Marsha Croninger
  • Kathleen Werner
  • Catherine Flaherty
  • Gail Marshall
  • Kate Ford
  • Cathy Murillo
  • Vicki Ben-Yaacov
  • Randy Rowse
  • Mary E. O’Gorman
  • Dr. Lee E. Heller
  • Hathor Hammett
  • Mary Rose
  • Frank J. Ochoa
  • Barbara Lindemann
  • Karena Jew
  • Beryl Kreisel
  • Judy Pirkowitsch
  • Jinny Webber
  • Gerardo Ayala
  • James Joyce III
  • Carol Keator
  • Catherine J. Swysen
  • Pat McElroy
  • Vijaya Jammalamadaka
  • Lois Phillips
  • Gail Fairburn
  • Pam Flynt Tambo
  • Paula Lopez Ochoa
  • Anthony Moran
  • Linda Krop
  • Darcél Elliott
  • Deborah Karoff
  • Anna DiStefano
  • Bonnie Kerwin
  • Michal Lynch
  • Chelsea Lancaster
  • Starshine Roshell
  • Christian Alonso
  • Ana Elisa Fuentes
  • Marian Shapiro
  • Kate Connell
  • Meredith Murr
  • Judy Farris
  • Wade Stewart
  • Vicki Allen
  • Dave Davis
  • Sharon Byrne
  • Harriet Eckstein
  • Lata Murti
  • Mary Turley
  • Gina Fischer
  • Susan Owens
  • Chris Henson
  • Jean Davis
  • Nadia Lee Abushanab
  • Elaine R. Rudin
  • Aninha Brill

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