The Santa Barbara City Council elections on November 2 are probably one of the most important elections in years. Santa Barbara is facing serious problems: homelessness, the problems with State Street, including the mall-ing of the street, a leaderless City bureaucracy, a dysfunctional City Council, an obstructive planning and development bureaucracy, undue union influence, and more. We deserve a better mayor and Randy Rowse is the only nonpartisan candidate with vast experience and demonstrated leadership and he deserves our vote.


There is nothing Republican or Democrat about street repair, trash pickup, water, homelessness, housing, and crime. Why should the mayor of Santa Barbara be chosen because they are a Democrat or Republican? Party affiliation is not a good reason to elect someone.

Yet most candidates tout their political affiliation. The first endorsement on incumbent mayor Cathy Murillo’s list is the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party. James Joyce III (Mr. “Coffee With A Black Guy”) was an aide to Hannah-Beth Jackson, Democratic power broker, and got her endorsement. Deborah Schwartz, daughter of former Supervisor Naomi Schwartz, was endorsed by The Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara County Democratic Party also endorsed City Council candidates Meagan Harmon, Kristin Sneddon, and Eric Friedman. The Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County endorsed Nina Johnson who is running against Meagan Harmon for City Council.

Also, and very importantly, these Democrat candidates are all endorsed by the labor unions who benefit from sweetheart contracts with the City. By “endorse” I mean campaign donations.

The running joke about most of the current City Council members is that they are running for president of the United State. The point being is that they see local offices as a steppingstone to greater political glory. To get there they can’t stray far from Party ideology.

I support Randy Rowse for mayor of Santa Barbara. All I want is better city government and Rowse is the only candidate who can get us there.

Randy has no political endorsements, nor is he a Democrat or Republican. He did get endorsements from the city firefighters and police officers unions, probably the most significant nonpartisan endorsements of the mayoral race. He was also endorsed by former mayor Sheila Lodge, a liberal Democrat who understands the need to elect competent leadership.

The thing that irks me about the current City Council is that the issues that bother most of us only get attention around election time. They get lost in policies that line up with Democratic ideologies. The things that they are interested in are wealth inequality, punishing landlords, saving the environment from gas appliances, quid pro quo sweetheart contracts for their union supporters, promises of (unattainable) “affordable” housing, and virtue signaling solidarity along racial, ethnic, LGTBQ, and gender lines.

What about homelessness? State Street vacancies? The mall-ing of State Street? Obstructive City bureaucracies? Chaos in the City Administration? Undue union influence? The things we citizens complain about don’t get solved.

I have written a lot about homelessness, State  Street, City bureaucracy, rent control, housing, local politics, local commercial real estate, and California’s woes. Mostly my articles are based on data and facts, as well as my long tenure as a resident here.

The natural reflex of our Council is to punt on the important issues.

With regard to the problems in the City’s bureaucracy they hired a consultant who told them that the Community Development Department (building permits, etc.) was in need of serious overhaul. Their response: nothing. I told them the same thing (The Department of No).

With regard to State Street, their consultant pointed out the problems they already knew about. Their response was to form another committee (State Street Advisory Committee) to develop a Downtown State Street Master Plan. You know, more input from a committee of “stakeholders”. Committees rarely solve anything.

To solve the glut of vacant stores on State Street, another consultant gave them some options. To toot my horn, I wrote two articles (here and here) on the problem and the solutions I recommended were about the same as their consultant’s. Mine were free. So far, not much has been done.

In response to the growing pressure on them about homelessness they, noting that there is an upcoming election, started enforcing anti-homeless laws again (the no sit, sleep, or lie on State St. and Milpas). They also spent $1.2 million to rent a 35 room motel to house the homeless. The lease runs out on November 1 (election on November 2) but there is talk they will renew it again for another 90 days. The money will come from Measure C funds, the voter approved 1% additional sales tax revenue that was supposed to go for infrastructure.

The worst thing they’ve done, in my opinion, is the recent Project Labor Agreement which requires the City to hire union contractors on City construction contracts of $5 million plus. It was embarrassing to hear the Councilmembers try to justify this political payoff. They all receive money from the labor unions. To suggest that non-union labor is less competent and less efficient than union labor is a joke. Without open competitive bidding all it does is make union projects more costly for taxpayers with no added benefit.

We need change at the top to get this city back on track which is why I recommend that you vote for Randy Rowse for mayor.

No one knows what’s under the City’s hood better than Rowse. He spent 9 years as a Councilmember advocating reasonable policies. For most of his tenure he faced opposition from partisan Councilmembers who focused on their political agendas rather than practical solutions. As mayor, Rowse will be in a leadership position to focus on the important issues, find the best policy solutions, and keep the Councilmembers on track.

Due to Mayor Cathy Murillo’s lack of leadership, relationships between City Councilmembers are deteriorating. The other mayoral candidates have no leadership experience. Joyce has no local government experience, yet he wants to start at the top. Schwartz, who serves on the Planning Commission, is proving to be a divisive candidate.

Rowse is nonpartisan, he’s honest, he’s smart, he’s a leader, and he has good solutions for Santa Barbara’s problems. Don’t let the partisans have another five years to muck things up. Vote for Rowse.