With the election less than six weeks away, John Buttny held a rally Saturday afternoon marking the official start of his campaign for 3rd District supervisor.
Surrounded by supporters and local politicians at his Storke Road campaign headquarters, Buttny outlined his commitment to environmental conservation. With the help of Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, he solicited donations to pay for TV spots and radio commercials.
Jackson urged those in attendance to pledge money for Buttny’s campaign. Over two dozen people raised their hands to donate at least $50 toward print and media advertising. Jackson herself and Goleta Mayor Cynthia Brock each donated $100 during the auction-like fundraising session.
“There is nothing but the future of this county at stake. Make no bones about it,” Jackson said. “I am going to ask every one of you to dig into your pockets because John Buttny will work for every one of you.”
Buttny also received a $15,000 donation at the meeting from Service Employees International Union Local 620.
Bill Wallace, Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District supervisor prior to the two-term Gail Marshall, told the crowd they are lucky to have a candidate that promotes environmental stewardship in the tradition of Marshall and himself.
“As always, the issues in the 3rd District revolve around growth and the environment,” Wallace said. “This campaign will be nothing different.”
During his speech, Buttny criticized another 3rd District supervisor candidate, Brooks Firestone, for allegedly clearing oak trees to build the vineyard that bears his name in northern Santa Barbara County.
“I don’t have a vineyard where we cleared 500 oak trees,” Buttny said. “That’s been completely hidden, and we’re going to blast him with that.”
Earlier, Buttny said it was “disconcerting” that a candidate would purchase beer for students, as Firestone did last week during an outing to The Study Hall in Isla Vista with his celebrity son, Andrew Firestone.
“To have a potential candidate buying everybody beer is a little strange,” Buttny said, “especially since we have an alcohol problem in Isla Vista.”
Harley Augustino, who works for Pueblo, an economic justice organization that fights for tenants’ rights in Isla Vista, is coordinating Buttny’s campaign outreach in I.V.
“Buttny’s campaign is focusing on the issues as opposed to being a celebrity,” Augustino said. “UCSB cares about the community. John Buttny has a long history of activism in Isla Vista.”
Augustino, a 25-year-old UCSB graduate who lived in Isla Vista for eight years, said the campaign is looking for 40 volunteers to serve as block leaders in I.V. to canvass voters. He said the Buttny campaign is expecting to be outspent by the Firestone campaign three to one, necessitating the services of volunteers.
“We are trying to build leadership in the community to help win the election and establish leadership that will last once the election is over,” he said.
Isla Vista residents can expect to be contacted by Buttny’s volunteers often in the next few weeks.
“Some people are harder to reach then others,” Augustino said. “If you’re home all the time, you might see someone come by five or six times.”
Buttny said similar vote-getting tactics will be used in North County, but volunteers will rely primarily on making phone calls rather than walking door-to-door because the area is more spread-out than South County.
Esther Aguilera, co-chair of Pueblo and a 1992 UCSB graduate, was manning Buttny’s separate Isla Vista campaign headquarters Saturday afternoon at 910 Embarcadero del Norte. The office is located in the reception area of the new I.V. Yoga Studio, which is still under construction but opening next week.
Aguilera said over 400 volunteers have signed up to help make calls and walk door-to-door in Isla Vista promoting Buttny.
“If they say they are not for Buttny, we try to change their mind,” Aguilera said. “If we can’t, we leave them alone and move on to the rest.”
Steffen Feser, the owner of the I.V. Yoga Studio, said allowing Buttny to use his space made good business sense while the studio was preparing to open.
“They were looking for a space, and we were broke,” Feser said.