With his aides vowing to fight for every Isla Vista vote, Brooks Firestone got down on his knees Wednesday night with campaign volunteers to help make signs promoting his campaign for 3rd District supervisor.
At his campaign headquarters across from CompUSA in the Camino Real Marketplace, around 20 student volunteers and paid campaign staff members created over 30 signs bearing Firestone’s name to be hung around the UCSB campus.
“We have 30 to 40 students here every Wednesday night, which shows you that I.V. is not in the bag,” said Tom Widroe, a Firestone campaign adviser. “We’re moving into I.V. It’s where our focus is right now.”
Like that of John Buttny, Firestone’s most visible opponent in Isla Vista, the Firestone campaign is going door-to-door in I.V. and using volunteer block coordinators to get out the vote. Several hundred lawn signs lay stacked in the corner of Firestone’s headquarters, ready to be planted throughout Goleta. Widroe said the number of people signed up to volunteer for Firestone is in the hundreds.
Despite his attention to Isla Vista, Firestone said he has not heard criticism that he is focusing on southern Santa Barbara County and Isla Vista too much.
“I don’t think of myself as a North County person who has come to Isla Vista,” Firestone said. “I see myself as who I am.”
Firestone said that in addition to his agricultural presence as a North County vintner, he has a strong attachment to the UCSB campus. He said he enjoyed representing the university’s interests during his tenure in the California State Assembly as the chair of the Higher Education Committee.
Earlier in the evening, Firestone attended a meeting of the Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC). Buttny, assistant to current 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, was also in attendance. Both spoke in support of the Isla Vista master planning process and said they looked forward to working with the PAC/GPAC if elected.
Ken Poole, Firestone’s campaign manager, said although Buttny has been working in Isla Vista for almost 20 years, the Buttny campaign is taking the Isla Vista resident vote for granted.
“If you look at I.V., it’s not exactly the dream community – and they’ve been in power 18 years,” Poole said. “It’s a question of who’s going to support I.V. instead of using I.V.”
The 23-year-old Poole, a recent UCSB graduate, worked alongside Buttny to defeat last year’s attempted recall of Marshall. He said he became a Firestone supporter because he felt previous 3rd District candidates like Bill Wallace and Marshall campaigned hard for I.V. votes, then left without making significant improvements.
Widroe said the Firestone campaign is currently enjoying support from several UCSB sororities and fraternities whose members have been turning out on a regular basis to help make signs and walk door-to-door in Isla Vista. Several members from Alpha Chi Omega, including former President Kelley Kaufman, were making signs last night.
Kaufman, a senior psychology major, said she never worked on a political campaign before, but thinks students should know about issues like fees for parking permits in I.V. and the drive to split the county in two – both issues that Firestone is against. She said Firestone, as a successful businessman, has what it takes to address the county’s economic problems.
“I’ve gotten to know him by helping out,” Kaufman said. “It’s like finding the right puzzle piece. He has the right personal life experience to bring the county back together.”