November 8th Election: Our Endorsements
This year the Montecito Journal co-hosted a handful of Zoom candidate forums, all involving local school board races for which Montecito residents will have a vote (the one exception is the SBUSD area #1 seat, for which a smaller portion of our readers will have the chance to weigh in).
This is not to say that there aren’t other important races and propositions on this November’s ballot, for some of which we have made endorsements. There most certainly are and we have identified them in these pages. And of course, we encourage every registered voter to vote!
We focused our forums this year on school board races because school boards, the heart of our democracy, have become ground zero for the culture wars and angry political discourse that plagues our nation. And it’s not surprising. Schools are primary partners in raising our children, it’s where our kids learn many of their values, and it’s a training ground for those who will control our nation’s future. In other words, school board races matter, big time.
There are a few things we consider when endorsing a candidate. First and foremost is character. Is this a person we trust to weigh in on sensitive and complicated issues? Is this person a good listener? Do they have a growth mindset? Are they interested and conversant regarding the whole host of issues that face school board members or are they single-issue candidates? Ambition, often raised as a negative, doesn’t bother us. An elected official without ambition would be a problem. But ambition should be aimed at working on behalf of constituents, as it’s about public service not self-service.
Santa Barbara School Board Area 1: Gabe Escobedo
Everyone we spoke with who works with Escobedo says the same thing: he always works hard, and he’s always prepared. Gabe Escobedo is a policy wonk who studies diligently and seems to think carefully about every decision that comes before him. The first in his family to go to college, Gabe nearly missed out on the college experience, if not for the fortuitous intervention of a school staff member, which may be why he’s spent the bulk of his adult life in a mentorship roll.
Due to redistricting, Area 1 is the first majority-minority district in the history of SBUSD, and for the first time, voters can select a candidate who reflects not just the families of Area #1, but the students themselves. SBUSD is overwhelmingly Latino, and Gabe’s story is shared by countless students matriculating through our schools. Gabe may not be a parent, as some have criticized, but he’s young enough to remember what it was like to be in school, which was not that long ago.
On a personal note, Gabe seems to really listen to what people have to say, a rare quality these days, especially in politics. He strikes us as open-minded and willing to shift his perspective if given compelling evidence to do so. On a pure instinct level, Gabe strikes us as a good person with a huge heart and seems genuinely intent on making the world a better place. (Pollyanna as that may sound.)
Of the other candidates running for this seat, we were also impressed by candidate Dan La Berge, the leader of the Mothers’ Helpers nonprofit who seems to care very much about what’s going on in our public schools and has some meaningful experience to back up his positions; but still, we land on Gabe Escobedo, not only for his vast experience and knowledge in the public policy realm, but for the spirit of his campaign. We’re disappointed that close La Berge camp members have used Facebook posts to disparage Escobedo for being a “career politician,” behind whom the “democratic machine” has blindly lined up. This is neither fair nor true. And certainly, this publication has proven itself, on more than one occasion, not to be a lemming of the local democratic machine. We reject such expedient simplification and petty distraction from what truly matters. We endorse Gabe Escobedo.
Santa Barbara County Board of Education, Area 1: Marybeth Carty
The Santa Barbara County Board of Education seems to be a misunderstood body. This was clear this past spring when candidate Christy Lozano challenged incumbent County Superintendent Susan Salcido, expressing a desire to change the county’s approach to pedagogy and school safety – neither of which are under the auspices of the County Education Office or its Board of Trustees.
Santa Barbara’s County Education office oversees a 100-million-dollar budget and over 500 employees. Oversight on SB’s County Board of Education includes oversight of the County Ed Office budget as it applies to the juvenile court and community schools. It sets SBCEO board policies; approves the SBCEO Local Control and Accountability plan; serves as an appellate board with respect to inter-district
transfer requests and expulsions and Charter School applications that have been denied by local districts.
Marybeth Carty has served on the Santa Barbara County School Board since April 2013 representing Trustee Area 1 and she understands well what the Board can and can’t do. She claims that this Board’s work is in her “DNA” and given her long tenure on the board and strong background in community service, we agree.
Carty, was named “Carpinterian of the Year” in 2001, is the Executive Director of the Natalie Orfalea Foundation, in large part devoted to “better learning.” Prior to this, Carty spent 15 years as the Community Partnership Manager for Venoco, Inc. directing the company’s charitable giving and philanthropic outreach. She also worked for the Carpinteria Unified School District for nine years administering grant-funded educational programs. She is a board member and past president of Partners in Education and Vice Chair of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s Fighting Back Mentor Program Task Force.
We believe that Santa Barbara County Education Office has excellent leadership under Superintendent Susan Salcido and that Marybeth Carty, as a long-time board member, is an important part of that team.
Even Carty’s opponent, Rosanne Crawford, a self-professed “strong supporter” of County Superintendent Susan Salcido, claims that Salcido has been a good superintendent. And while a multitude of natural disasters and the COVID pandemic have had a profound impact on schools, Carty has and continues to be a strong and thoughtful leader on our County School Board, and we don’t see the wisdom in replacing her.
On another note, we also come down on the side of civility and integrity in public service.
In our recent candidate forum cohosted by MJ and Newsmakers we asked Ms. Crawford to explain the notorious message she left on the County’s answering machine last spring for Superintendent Salcido, imploring Salcido to attend a forum organized by The Coalition for Neighborhood Schools, of which Ms. Crawford is an active member. When asked to explain the substance and tone of her message, which we found offensive, Ms. Crawford denied threatening to use her relationships to harm Superintendent Salcido’s campaign if Salcido did not “pull up the panties and get with the program” and show up at the event.
We obtained a copy of the voice file of Ms. Crawford’s message, which indicates that Ms. Crawford was not entirely honest with us in her answer, in which she sharply denied threatening Superintendent Salcido.
Her precise words, taken directly from the voice file of her message were: “If Susan will not participate in a nonpartisan forum, I have no respect for a candidate like that, and I will in fact not only not support her, I will turn people against her and I have a lot of really influential circles in this town so please, please, pull up the panties and get with the program.”
Again, but we strongly believe that such tactics are the opposite of leadership and diplomacy. It is bullying, full stop. A student would get suspended for leaving such a message for any school administrator. We should expect more from our elected officials.
We endorse Marybeth Carty for SB County School Board and look forward to her continuing her hard work on behalf of the children and families in this county.
Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees: Dr. Charlotte Gullap-Moore
Dr. Charlotte Gullap-Moore is a licensed Nurse Practitioner and Professor at CSU Channel Islands. She has been a strong advocate for student achievement and equity for more than 20 years, both as an educator and as a member of local and state organizations. She consistently expresses her belief that Santa Barbara City College is capable of being the best Community College in California and has strong opinions on how to get us there. Gullap-Moore says that it is through strong leadership and an inclusive, collaborative approach that a college experience that meets the needs of every student can be created. We agree.
Dr. Gullap-Moore has spent two decades delivering primary care and chronic pain management to the patient population in Santa Barbara and across the country. Her strong record of community service led her to an appointment as Chair of the Santa Barbara Community Development & Human Resource Committee. She is also a part-time faculty lecturer in the Goleta Extension Nursing Program.
Gullap-Moore has consistently advocated for education and healthcare-related legislation at the state and federal level, particularly for bills that affect women, students, and protected classes.
Santa Barbara City College has a very interesting set up where the teachers essentially govern themselves, and as a college professor herself, Gullap-Moore has a
perspective that no one else currently on the board has. She can relate to the staff and faculty, and I suspect could be a conduit between their needs and the rest of the board.
In the wake of the George Floyd murder, a group of us met weekly to discuss the fallout from that tragic event and to create opportunities for ongoing, meaningful conversation and forward movement in our community. I found Dr. Gullap-Moore to be a great combination of strong-minded and open-minded, something I think Santa Barbara could use more of. I have no doubt that she will show up on the City College School Board in the same spirit.
Dr. Gullap-Moore’s opponent, Debi Stoker, with little or no discernable experience in the education realm, has engaged in the kind of flame-throwing that has no place here. In fact, we at the Montecito Journal fell victim to such antics when Stoker shared one of our email exchanges on one of her husband’s campaign emails, attacking the Montecito Journal for choosing to hold our candidates forum, in collaboration with Newsmakers, on Zoom. (Her husband, Mike Stoker, is a candidate for State Assembly and the self-proclaimed architect of the ignominious cultural low-point “lock her up” – one of the prominent scalpels creating the thousand cuts that are dividing our nation. I mean no insult to scalpels.) We are clear that this is the kind of ugly political stunt that pollutes the lives of those who are simply trying to understand what candidates stand for. When we would not accede to her demand for an in-person forum, Stoker chose not to participate. Such inflexible, my way or the highway attitude is not what we need on any of our school boards.
Cold Spring School Board
3 Open Seats, 3 Endorsements
It is worth noting that in our recently held Zoom forum with Newsmakers, candidate Erika Paredes Kellis did not show up. Our endorsements go to:
Michael Marino, Incumbent
Michael Marino, the current board president, has been serving in that capacity since 2018, during which time Cold Spring has become the top performing district in the county and has gone from deficit spending to amassing a healthy million-dollar (20%) reserve for the district. Marino is a huge booster for Cold Spring and its leadership and comes to the table with high standards not only for the district, but for the Board he leads. Marino places a high premium on working to improve school safety for an event he hopes will never come. Marino admits that the board can do a better job at communicating with the local community and has taken steps to rectify this by publishing a regular newsletter that goes out to parents and neighbors. Marino sees the districts strengths as, first and foremost, the teachers and the administration. He sees its weakness as not having enough money. He bemoans that the state has required a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program as well as providing of meals for all students but has provided no funding for either. We appreciate Marino’s steadfast commitment to Cold Spring and we endorse his ongoing leadership at that school.
Jennifer Miller, Incumbent
Jennifer Miller has served on the Cold Spring Board for eight years and is running for a third term. With one child still at Cold Spring, she remains passionate about what Cold Spring provides the children and families in the community. Miller and Marino seem to be in close alignment on the strong state of the school and the work that still needs to be done. Miller sees Cold Spring’s strengths as its small class size, classroom aides, its specialist programs like art and music, and the teachers’ collaborative approach to teaching. The weaknesses, in her mind, reside in the district’s difficulty getting community support for district projects, namely its lack of support of Cold Spring’s failed bond measure, intended to pay to renovate dilapidated classrooms being used for a growing student population.
Elke Kane, Parent and Attorney
Elke Kane would be a new name on the Board, but she would not be a new presence at School Board meetings. According to Elke, she has attended more board meetings than any other parent or community member! A child of Mexican immigrants whose first language was Spanish, Kane seems like a strong replacement for outgoing board member Eric Schiller. Well informed on the issues facing Cold Spring, Kane says she “likes to find collaborative and creative solutions to unique problems.” She says she wants to better understand the values reflected in the community members and wants people to see Cold Spring as a hub and heart of the community. For Kane, Cold Spring’s strengths lie in the district’s high student achievement and a nimble teaching staff and leadership team that is ever ready to meet the students ever-changing needs. The district’s weakness, according to Kane, has to do with the ongoing need for funding to support facilities and student safety in light of a growing student population. We found Kane’s enthusiasm and love for Cold Spring to be infectious and we think she’d be a wonderful addition to the current Board.
Montecito Fire Board: Peter van Duinwyk
There are two open seats with three candidates running. In this case we endorse only one. Incumbent Peter van Duinwyk, with whom I served on Montecito Union School Board for four years, has my clear and unequivocal endorsement. I first learned about Peter a dozen years ago through his stellar reputation on the Montecito Association and as a legendary history teacher and administrator in the Santa Barbara Unified public schools (Teacher of the Year 1998, Santa Barbara High School). In my former capacity as the President of the Montecito Union Board of Trustees I approached Peter, who at the time had grandchildren attending MUS, to encourage him to run for the MUS Board of Trustees. Luckily for the district he did, and so began my front row seat to Van Duinwyk as a leader. Always diligent, intelligent, and thoughtful, Van Duinwyk was a stellar member of the board. He asked good questions. And always managed, in my experience, to walk the line of being an independent thinker and a team player. On the Fire Board, according to leadership at the MFD, which has my full gratitude and respect, Peter is a very strong and experienced board member that takes his commitment to the safety of our community seriously. Van Duinwyk is a long-serving member of the Finance Committee with an exceptional commitment to fiscal responsibility and deliberate in his role.
There are two other candidates running for a seat, both of whom seem to have good intentions and reasons to recommend them, but with Peter I have no doubt about the value he will continue to bring to this important board!
The following two endorsements are reprinted from the Primary endorsements and remain strongly intact!
24th Congressional District: Salud Carbajal
Arguably, no local elected official has had a stronger and more directly positive impact on the lives of Central Coast residents than Salud Carbajal. He won us over after a dozen years as our 1st District County Supervisor, with his legendarily strong constituent services, and he continues to do so, even after five and a half years, as Santa Barbara’s representative from the 24th Congressional District. Unlike many Congressional Representatives, Carbajal’s local presence remains strong, even as he spends a good deal of his time in D.C.
While Carbajal understands exactly where we are as a country and as a democracy, and just how real the threats are that we face, he remains a glass-half-full kind of guy whose optimism and commitment to moving important bills forward through hard won bipartisan efforts, are reflected in his legislative victories during his three terms in Congress.
His work can be seen and felt in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which brought forward the infrastructure bill, bringing 60 million dollars over five years for transit here in the district. That includes roads, broadband, public transit, bridges, waterworks, and water recycling. He’s deeply involved in the Climate Solutions Caucus, the For Country Caucus, made up of bipartisan Veterans in Congress, and worked hard to pass the Clean Coastal Act to stop future offshore oil drilling.
Carbajal identifies his top four legislative priorities as: 1) To provide economic opportunities and prosperity to his constituents and Americans across the country. 2) The climate change crisis and the need to address it from multiple standpoints as we have drought, fires, and rising sea levels and its impact on our public health. 3) To improve access and affordability of our healthcare system, prescription drugs, and healthcare premiums. And 4) To make sure our K-12 education system and higher education is more accessible, doubling financial aid, and minimizing student loan debt. Carbajal understand that strengthening our K through 12 education system is key to rebuilding a middle class in our country. Bottom line, he’s been an accessible, hardworking, effective representative, and a good listener. We proudly endorse Carbajal’s return to Congress for a 4th term!
State Assembly, District 37: Gregg Hart
We endorse 2nd District County Supervisor Gregg Hart for State Assembly. Hart’s opponent, Mike Stoker (a former County Supervisor and Trump’s West Coast EPA Administrator), is famous for coining the phrase “lock her up.” We believe that such divisive and mean-spirited political shenanigans should have no place in Santa Barbara’s leadership.
A native Santa Barbaran, Supervisor Hart is a consummate Democratic insider whose service on the Santa Barbara Planning Commission, the Santa Barbara City Council from 1986-1994, and most recently as the 2nd District County Supervisor have prepared him to represent the Central Coast in the state legislature. As Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Hart showed strong leadership during the COVID crisis working with County Public Health to hold regular press conferences to keep Santa Barbara residents in the loop on the ever-changing, mind-spinning myriad of rules and regulations around masking, vaccination eligibility, business closures, etc. And his local focus on homelessness and transportation bodes well for his advocacy on these fronts in Sacramento. Hart is a sophisticated career politician with a preternatural affinity for understanding complicated policy matters and will no doubt hit the ground running in Sacramento.
The defining relationship between the County and the State is money, and in Sacramento – yank begets bank – and Gregg Hart’s got yank in spades. We’re hopeful that despite his many years in politics, Hart will bring a fresh perspective to this new job and break out of some old habits of looking inside a used box for solutions to new and ever-escalating challenges faced by the people of the Central Coast.
Vote Yes on Prop 1
[The following statement was sent to us by Joan Hartmann and Gregg Hart, and we could not agree more wholeheartedly, or say it better ourselves.]
Yes, Even California Needs a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Reproductive Freedom and Abortion
This past June, the Conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year, precedent-setting 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the constitutional right to privacy including the right to an abortion. In response, legislators from both political parties in the California Legislature moved to add Proposition 1 to the upcoming November 8 ballot. The Supreme Court’s action returned abortion to states to regulate. Prop 1 is a constitutional amendment that would codify the right to reproductive freedom in the California constitution. Even in California, we need a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom and we urge you to vote YES on Prop 1.
In accordance with an overwhelming majority of Americans, we unequivocally believe that private and personal medical decisions should remain between patients and their health care providers, and that doctors and nurses should not be threatened with legal or criminal penalties for providing basic health care to patients. Whether, when, and who to have a child with are the most intimate and personal decisions people make, and the government should not insert itself into such choices.
California has long been recognized as a state supportive of reproductive rights with strong individual privacy protections. Our state legalized abortion prior to Roe with the Therapeutic Abortion Act signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967. But the right to obtain an abortion is not explicitly enshrined in our state constitution, rather it exists in statute. In overturning Roe, Justice Samuel Alito opined that the right to privacy does not exist within the U.S. constitutional framework. Given that so many of our basic rights, freedoms, and individual liberties are predicated on the right to privacy – now under activist judicial threat – we must act to enshrine basic rights into our state constitution to help ensure that they cannot be taken away from us. In California only a majority of voters – not legislators – can amend our state constitution.
Passage of Prop 1 means that politicians, now or in the future, cannot deny or interfere with reproductive freedoms without a majority vote of the people of California. This very state constitutional mechanism is what the voters of Kansas valiantly rallied to protect earlier this summer when anti-abortion activists tried to usurp the power of regulating abortion out of the state constitution and put it into the hands of zealous conservative politicians, with the goal of outlawing abortion. Voters overwhelmingly rejected this effort and abortion remains legal in Kansas.
Abortion is a personal decision and people should be able to make private medical decisions with their health care providers without political interference.
Prior to Roe, abortion was illegal throughout much of the country. The dismantling of Roe leaves the U.S. with a chaotic web of rules and regulations, which zealous conservative politicians will continue to work to erode. Many seek to outlaw abortion altogether. But across the U.S., voters are revolting and turning out in unprecedented numbers to protect abortion at the ballot box. Recognizing this, extreme GOP Senator Lindsey Graham introduced legislation for a nationwide abortion ban in the Senate last month.
More than a dozen states already have full abortion bans in place, forcing thousands of pregnant individuals to travel to California, including to the Central Coast, for care. Our state is a symbol of compassion, hope, and progress and we have a moral obligation to help people access the basic health care they need.
Prop 1 protects the most vulnerable. Research suggests that the health of pregnant individuals is put at risk without the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term or choose to safely end a pregnancy. The U.S. already has the highest maternal death rate among industrialized nations globally. Maternal deaths are disproportionately concentrated among people with low incomes and among people of color – with Black Americans three times more likely to die during childbirth than white Americans.
Currently, one in four of those who can become pregnant in the U.S. will obtain an abortion by the age of 45 and a majority of those in the U.S. who obtain abortions have already given birth. Studies show that the choice to plan, delay, and space births greatly increases U.S. women’s opportunities, workforce participation and wages, and attainment of a college education. Individuals should retain the freedom to decide how to best live their lives and plan their families.
As political leaders, we must do all we can to protect and advance the rights of those who we represent, this includes ensuring abortion is legal and accessible and that important health care decisions are left to individuals and their health care providers. We can achieve this by voting YES on Prop 1.
– Joan Hartmann and Gregg Hart
The views and opinions expressed are those of Joan Hartmann and Gregg Hart as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the entities they represent. For identification purposes only, Joan Hartmann is elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors representing the Third District and Gregg Hart is elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors representing the Second District and is a current candidate for the State Assembly, District 37.