With roots firmly planted in Isla Vista, Father Jon-Stephen Hedges will bring decades of knowledge and care to the Community Services District board of directors. The Nexus strongly endorses Hedges for the temporary-two year seat.
Hedges attended UCSB until dropping out in 1969, and returned to Isla Vista to complete a degree in sociology in 1986. His experience in I.V. amounts to over 30 years, and Hedges said the community has needed a stronger voice for decades.
In his time as a volunteer chaplain for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Hedges has supported students and families through stressful and traumatic situations. He is also a founder of Doctors Without Walls, and was deployed to Louisiana by the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.
- MAC: The Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) is designed to give feedback from I.V. residents to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. Assembly Bill 3 does not specify the structure of a MAC, but Hedges said “it puts us at the table with other governmental organizations.” During his time in I.V., Hedges experienced bad interactions with landlords, and though he owns a home in the neighborhood now, he understands the benefits of direct communication with county officials.
- Community Engagement: Hedges believes a first, and very difficult, step toward change will be community engagement in Isla Vista. He said the community center will be a crucial factor in boosting engagement and creating a non-partisan gathering place to define I.V.’s sense of culture. “I want this to be a place where people say, ‘Maybe I’ll raise my family there,’” Hedges said. “I want the day to come when people don’t think it’s crazy to stay in Isla Vista.”
- Relationship between I.V. and local governance: “The county, the university and the city are always talking collaboration,” Hedges said. “I recognize the difference between thinking and doing.” He hopes to apply his experience with county and university officials as a bridge between Isla Vistans and local governing bodies, and said UCSB must view the community as a partner rather than a “liability.”
Assemblymember Das Williams, who wrote AB 3, asked Hedges to run for the CSD board of directors. “When I read Assembly Bill 3, I said this is it, this is what we need,” Hedges said. Though Hedges did not step up to run for the position himself, he said he would have considered it even if he had not been “drafted.” He supports both Measures E and F.
“It’s not like America getting its independence from great Britain,” Hedges said. “But it is a step; it’s an important step toward identity and maturity.”
Is the CSD a grassroots movement? Yes.
What’s your superpower? “My antiquity. The older we get, our strength comes from experience.”