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And They’re Off

City Council Race Gets Underway


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lesley Wiscomb, a former Wall Street bond trader and retired landscape architect, announced she’s running for the Santa Barbara City Council in this November’s election. Wiscomb has served on the city’s Parks & Recreation Commission for three and a half years and has been urged by partisans of the left and the right to consider running. She’s a registered independent and was supported at her press conference by Dale Francisco, the council’s reigning conservative, as well as planning commissioner and former mayor Sheila Lodge. Wiscomb suggested her financial background would equip her well in dealing with the budgetary challenges ahead, while her experience in landscape architecture will help her preserve Santa Barbara’s small-town character. She said she is running as an individual and not part of any slate. Wiscomb noted that she and Francisco did not always see eye to eye. He strongly supported Measure Y, which would have allowed a new housing development off Las Positas Road, but Wiscomb, a Mesa resident and activist, said she strongly opposed it.

Up for grabs this fall is the mayor’s seat, as well as three council positions. Mayor Helene Schneider is already amassing campaign endorsements from the likes of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, and it appears unlikely she will face serious opposition. Two council incumbents are seeking reelection ​— ​Frank Hotchkiss on the right and Bendy White on the left. One seat ​— ​the one occupied by Councilmember Grant House the past eight years ​— ​will become vacant when House is forced to step down because of term limits. Two former councilmembers ​— ​Gregg Hart and David Landecker ​— ​have stated they plan to run. Both have well-established ties to the Democratic Party. Hart now works for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, an agency sometimes at odds with City Hall over the distribution of road-infrastructure resources. Landecker recently retired as executive director of the Environmental Defense Center. He was forced to resign from the council more than 20 years ago after he was caught switching price tags on garden shears.

Planning Commissioner Michael Jordan, another registered independent who’s been long active with the downtown business community, has also indicated his intention to run. Megan Diaz Alley, another Parks & Recreation Commissioner associated with the progressive-environmental community, is likewise preparing for the race. Also expressing serious interest is Jason Nelson, who served as campaign manager for Steve Cushman when Cushman, then the head of the Chamber of Commerce, ran for mayor four years ago. Since then, he has served in the military in Afghanistan.