Students will have the chance to meet with all five County Supervisors and the County Executive Officer at an event called “Day at the County,” which is hosted by Associated Students and will run tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Administration Building downtown.
Organized by the A.S. Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA), the event will simultaneously educate students about local affairs while providing them with the opportunity to build relationships with elected officials. Students will not only learn about current issues in Santa Barbara but can also pose questions to local government leaders concerning matters particularly relevant to UCSB students, such as infrastructure in Isla Vista.
UCSB Associated Students EVPLA Alex Moore said the event gives students an important opportunity to voice their concerns about local issues, as students represent a large portion of the population in Santa Barbara County.
“We contribute a lot as UCSB students, and it’s important for county leaders to hear what students have to say about local issues and the community here,” Moore said. “Things that happen on local levels can really affect the lives of the students. County leadership is the main government body that affects Isla Vista.”
Moore said the event will hopefully demonstrate to students the impact of local affairs work and subsequently encourage students to become more involved with the affairs of the community.
“More engaged students and more engaged civic members is a better community,” Moore said. “It gives students the tools to give their stance, come up with ideas and be able to represent themselves.”
According to the EVPLA office County Liaison Maile Hartsook, the planning process for this event goes back to October, when she and Moore began organizing for it.
The organizers completed a campus-wide call for applications and Hartsook said attendees, who were chosen through the application process, make up a diverse group of individuals such as transfer students, minority students and members of the Greek system.
In addition, all of the students will have attended trainings in preparation for the event. The preparatory training, Hartsook said, will hopefully enable students and county leaders to recognize and become aware of each other’s needs.
“I am very excited for ‘Day at the County,’ especially because it is the first of its kind,” Hartsook said. “It is meant to be a learning opportunity for both … The officials will learn what local issues are important to the UCSB community, and students will gain an insight into local politics.”
First District Supervisor and UCSB alumnus Salud Carbajal said he is looking forward to communicating with students and viewing issues from their respective perspectives, so he can potentially foster longer-lasting relationships with the student body.
“I hope the students will get an opportunity to communicate with the county government the most important issues at the campus,” Carbajal said. “We are county decision makers so we want to best form a partnership.”
Carbajal also said he encourages students to openly voice their opinions, saying he hopes they will introduce ideas and points of discussion that will potentially improve “the quality of life in Isla Vista.”
“You can never go wrong with working on a relationship and having good communication between local government issues and students who are responsible for shaping the campus policies,” Carbajal said. “I’m really looking forward to the exchange. I was a UCSB student once upon a time, so I understand the campus life.”
Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam said he will be answering student questions regarding finances and added that he looks forward to the exchange and the ideas that will come from it.
“I want to fill in some gaps from [the students], especially if we can have a good discussion on economics, government spending and maintenance priorities,” Adam said. “Hopefully, students will understand that they should expect a lot from their politicians.”
A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Thursday, February 20, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.