Local concern and drizzle showered Rep. Lois Capps during her visit to Goleta this weekend.
The congresswoman held open office hours in front of the Goleta Albertson’s, located in the Camino Real shopping center, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m Monday. The hour-long visit allowed local residents an opportunity to discuss local and national issues on a one-to-one basis with their elected official.
Bob Hamber, a local resident, said he was wary of the implications of a national tax cut and President George W. Bush’s plans to use the surplus to reduce the national deficit.
"Bush says that taxes are our money, but so is our debt. We need to be responsible, we never know when we will need these resources," he said. "Maybe year by year we could have a tax credit, that way it would be more flexible."
Capps said she agreed with Hamber concerning the need to carefully study various uses of the surplus before making a decision.
"You never know. If you don’t have the resources when there is a real need for them, you won’t have the kind of flexibility we have now," she said. "I think that the surplus is definitely a matter of priorities – priorities we need to examine carefully."
Michael Stevens, a resident and landowner on the Gaviota coastline – an area currently being studied by members from the National Park Service and local environmentalists to determine the possibility of placing the land under government protection – said he was offended by government interference on his own property.
"I need to let you know that I resent the study on the national seashore. It took me 25 years to own my property and I know if the study goes through, my land will be taken from me and you can’t guarantee me otherwise," he said.
Capps said the study is important, because it will help determine how to best serve and protect the coastline for the future.
"The study is being done just to gather data. It’s about figuring out our options. This land is a treasure and we need to figure out how we can work to protect this land," she said. "I am looking to protect the agriculture, some of the ranches on the coast are having trouble making a profit. I am not sure what this area will look like in a 100 years if we don’t start some sort of preservation program."
Elwood Schapansky, a UCSB physics professor, and his wife, Karen Shapansky, approached Capps to voice their concern about the U.S trade embargo on Cuba and its affect on Cuban citizens.
"We are very much in favor of lifting the embargo. It is the farmers and the average person who is suffering the most. The United States is still very much present in Cuba. You can buy Pepsi-Cola products, its just that they come from foreign subsidiaries of American companies," he said. "Russia is not in Cuba anymore and this has to be about more than just a grudge against one man, [Fidel Castro]."
Capps said she encourages discussion on this issue and hopes that a solution will be reached by the new administration.
"Countless constituents are concerned about this problem," she said. "I, personally, am looking to see what action the Bush administration will take and, hopefully, there will be a speedy and effective resolution."
Local resident Hugh Smart said the Bush administration itself is a point of concern.
"The election evoked a lot of strong feelings," he said. "It was a disappointment, especially in peoples’ faith in the Electoral College."
Capps said the election problems were felt by local residents and should encourage an examination of the electoral process.
"Many people felt disenfranchised [after the November election]. I supported a bipartisan commission that doesn’t point fingers, that just deals with the issues so that we can be sure this doesn’t happen again," she said. "The election is over, we can only look to the future and look locally about updating voting procedures. We need to make sure local counties have enough resources to employ correct voting practices. The electoral system needs to be brought up to speed."