To be a supervisor on the Santa Barbara County Board, you can run, but you can’t hide.
That’s a lesson the four candidates now running for the 2nd District are fast learning. At interminable forums, from Mission Street to More Mesa, constituents have posed the same conflicting questions that have turned the board into a bitterly divided group. What is needed is a representative who can best navigate the treacherous terrain that is current county politics — one who will not hide behind a wall of rhetoric or a mask of making nice. That candidate is Janet Wolf.
A surprised opponent once described Wolf as a steel magnolia. What he probably meant was Wolf is a listener, not a shouter, that she has an unassuming strength, and that those who’ve mistaken her quietness for weakness have learned to regret it. She has a history to prove it.
Wolf cut her political teeth serving three terms on the Goleta School Board. For those who think school boards have a walk in the park, think again. No constituent is more intensely involved or more easily enraged than a concerned parent. Wolf began her 12-year stint on a board that was facing highly charged issues. As a cost-cutting measure, the district wanted to close two schools. Outraged parents went into overdrive, while school administrators panicked. Wolf kept her now famous cool, but led the charge to keep both schools open. She saved one, but not the other. Wolf brought environmental reforms into the schools by finding funding for a recycling program and by reducing the use of harmful pesticides. When the Boy Scouts were under national fire for their anti-gay policies, Wolf took the lead, insisting local Boy Scout troops change or stay off campus. Not a popular position, to say the least. But she didn’t go along to get along. She went to work, instead, to secure a unanimous vote from her board colleagues.
We need a supervisor with these skills, one who can sort out the muddled issues that find environmentalists opposing social activists, and private property rights conflicting with agricultural protections. The board is now controlled by a solid 3-2 property rights-minded majority. Whoever is elected must forge meaningful political relationships with members of that majority in order to protect the quality of community life. And to do that, whoever gets elected to the 2nd District must work effectively with Sauld Carbajal, the pragmatic, environmentally minded moderate now representing the 1st District.
That’s why we support Janet Wolf.
And though this might seem a minor point, Wolf, if elected, will be the first 2nd District supervisor in decades who actually lives in Goleta. Given that the hottest land-use wars are taking place in the Goleta Valley, it is no little thing to have someone on the board who has lived there for 18 years. True, she does not have a background in land-use planning, but she has proven to be a smart, fast learner.
Living in the district — as a parent, business owner, and householder — has brought Wolf closer to the issues. She will uniquely be able to weigh the competing values associated with each undeveloped chunk of land. Of all the candidates, we believe Wolf is the most sensitive to the crisis of housing affordability.
Lastly, we like Wolf because she tries to talk about issues other than land-use planning. The highest percentage of uninsured children in California lives in this county. Wolf will fight to change that. As a woman who lost her family home in the Painted Cave Fire, you can be sure Wolf will focus on securing funds for fire protection, as well as for finding solutions to traffic congestion and proper watershed management.
The other three candidates all are serious, responsible men.
Dr. Dan Secord is a seasoned, straight-talking politician, but a bit too aligned with the three sitting property-rights supervisors. Joe Guzzardi is a likable, knowledgeable candidate; however, he is so committed to no-growth that he would not be an effective supervisor. We endorsed Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams when he ran for that office two years ago. A young, charismatic politician, he has shown talent, both as an environmentalist and as a social activist, but he needs to fill out his current term, the first and only elected post he has ever held.
Janet Wolf is the best candidate and the best person to represent the 2nd District.
— Marianne Partridge Editor-in-Chief