There have been a few letters suggesting I have played a pivotal role in the Goleta Project Area Committee flag incident and the recall efforts of 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall. My wife and I went to the much-discussed GPAC meeting at the request of a long-time friend, Joe Olla. If asked, I would go and support him again. As an elected official for 11 years, I pride myself in taking direct responsibility for my actions and the actions of my department. I believe your readers deserve a response.

Nobody could have predicted or choreographed the things that took place that night. They were the result of poor staff decisions and a spontaneous reaction by a county supervisor. Attempts to rewrite the events of the evening by her supporters haven’t helped. I never believed that the GPAC event was really an issue of patriotism with the supervisor and her staff, rather it was an issue of poor judgement, temper and truth.

The recall proponents wanted to proceed with their effort several months ago after redistricting. I, and others, publicly opposed that effort. But when Supervisor Marshall accused me of orchestrating the flag incident, which ultimately resulted in Joe’s firing, I changed my mind. The community unnecessarily lost a common-sense voice on the GPAC and years of volunteer effort by a respected Santa Ynez Valley citizen.

After the incident, I was asked by some people, who are not high profile and who I respect, if I would be willing to run should enough people sign a recall petition and should an election be held. I said yes – if an election were held. There is no hidden agenda, and should there be an election, I plan on running and addressing all issues regarding the 3rd District. I suspect others will as well.

I hope people give serious consideration to both sides of the recall. While there are no legally required criteria other than dissatisfaction with the elected official, it is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. That’s why it requires so many signatures. There are any number of rumors on both sides regarding threats, misuse of the petitions, the amount of time before the next regular election, costs and motives of those involved. Please take the time to ask questions, check the law and make an informed decision based on the facts.

Everyone has the right to send letters to the press. However, with regards to me, no one so far has had the courtesy to call and ask about the issues prior to publicly expressing their interpretation of my actions and motives. I have always been personally accessible to the citizens of our county. Should you have any questions of me regarding this or any other issue, please e-mail me at, call my office at 681-4290 or call my home at 688-8893.

Jim Thomas is the Santa Barbara County sheriff.