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The previously uncontested race for three Goleta City Council seats in this November’s election started to heat up on Monday after a fourth candidate announced her intention to run for one of the seats.
Paula Perotte, a former local Parent-Teacher Association President, will run against incumbent councilmen Roger Aceves and Michael Bennett. She will also challenge Reyne Stapelmann, another newcomer who announced her candidacy in August.
The entrance of a fourth candidate marks the beginning of competition in a race that originally saw only two candidates planning to run for the three open seats.
According to Perotte, her decision to run for a seat on the council was based on concerns about a lack of contenders in the democractic process.
“I kept watching this particular election and did not see anyone step up,” Perotte said. “It was disturbing to see no one step up and I felt someone needed to step in so it could be an actual election.”
Perotte has already received multiple campaign endorsements, including approval from 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf and Goleta City Council members Ed Easton and Margaret Connell.
Councilmember Connell said Perotte’s previous background with child advocacy groups sets her apart from the other candidates.
“She is somebody who has not been deeply involved in city issues but she has been heavily involved in community issues,” Connell said. “One of the issues she has been very strong in is traffic safety and a safe route near schools.”
Mayor Eric Onnen, whose decision to step down from the council this year created the third vacancy, said other issues will also occupy the council. Onnen said another key issue will be a controversial debate over urban development on Bishop Ranch that will carry over from the current council and remain one of the more difficult hurdles for the new council members to address.
“I think one of the key issues will always be land use, specifically the conversion of agricultural land parcels into commercial land usage,” Onnen said. “It’s going to come forward to the council in the near future, one of the prime examples is that of Bishop Ranch.”
Perotte said she chose to voice her stance on these issues during her campaign kick-off Monday.
“The questions most frequently asked were, ‘What do you think about Bishop Ranch and the general plan?’” Perotte said. “For me, the priorities are always going to be that we respect the environment and our quality of life. We need to respect our agricultural resources.”