The candidates for 3rd District Supervisor will be debating the issues tonight at Andersen’s Pea Soup restaurant in Buellton.

The public forum, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., is sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Bar Association and will include questions provided to the candidates in advance as well as spontaneous questions submitted by the audience. Sandra Knight, president of the SYVBA and moderator of the debate, said one of the main concerns of the forum is to address conflicting interests in different areas of the district. Knight said the candidates are concerned with “building a bridge between Santa Ynez Valley and Isla Vista.”

Currently, there are four candidates running for the position of 3rd District supervisor: John Buttny, assistant to current 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall; Brooks Firestone, a teacher and farmer in Santa Ynez Valley; Slick Gardner, a rancher in Buellton; and Steven Pappas, a Los Olivos businessman.

Because I.V. is not a city or a township, the 3rd District supervisor is the most direct political representative I.V. residents have. The position of supervisor is nonpartisan, meaning it is free from party affiliation.

Firestone said he felt the candidates were still “getting to know each other” at the forum held Jan. 8 at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Solvang, but the “gloves might come off” at tonight’s debate.

“I think it will be more intense than the last one,” Firestone said.

Knight said she was unaware of any tensions among the candidates, but that any matters the candidates might want to “set the record straight” on could be addressed if the candidates wished.

“One of the tensions for me is Brooks [Firestone] out in I.V. buying beer for students,” Buttny said. “Brooks has said nothing of substance in this election. I’d be interested to see if that changes.”

Pappas said that a major problem with the structure of the forum is that the candidates receive many of the questions in advance, allowing them to give “rehearsed” answers.

“I don’t see quality in that kind of forum,” Pappas said. “It’s too controlled.”

Gardner said he does not have any particular expectations for the forum.

“Everybody’s chasing the same thing,” Gardner said. “I think it will be interesting to see what the questions are.”