Bob Pohl, Republican candidate for the 35th District California State Assembly seat, held a meet-and-greet last night at 6518 Del Playa Drive, chatting with students about his plan for UCSB and Isla Vista.
Organized by Pohl’s area coordinators and campaign managers, senior political science majors Brian Ray and Amanda Kirkman, the meeting took place in a DP living room at 8 p.m. Twenty to 30 students came to the informal gathering to meet Pohl, who is running against Democratic candidate and member of the California Coastal Commission Pedro Nava in the Nov. 2 election.
Democrat Hannah Beth-Jackson currently holds the 35th district state assembly district seat, but she cannot run again due to term limits.
Pohl gave a brief speech to the room full of students, emphasizing the need to give I.V. better representation in local government, and the need to get more student input in programs like the I.V. Master Plan and parking permit plan. Pohl also said a larger fiscal plan needs to be put into place to reduce student fees and create a way to properly manage Isla Vista.
“We need to run the state well fiscally, so that we don’t have to raise tuition and can pay our bills and don’t have to tax the students,” Pohl said. “Isla Vista has been ignored by local and state politicians. This place is a political ghetto. Isla Vista has traditionally voted for a party that’s taken you for granted. Students have been taken for granted and you can see the results.”
The crowd consisted of a mix of Democrats, Republicans and undecided voters. Senior political science major and Democrat Jayson Braude said he came to see what Pohl had to offer.
“I’ve met both of the candidates and I feel that [Pohl] deeply cares about the needs of students in I.V. and isn’t using I.V. just for political purposes,” Braude said. “In the past people have just come to I.V. to get our vote and then forgotten about us. When students are voting, they shouldn’t think about the political party written next to the name of the candidate. Would you rather have a liberal that doesn’t care about I.V. or a moderate who deeply cares about the needs of the students?”
Ray said Pohl’s experience as an educator, having worked as a school principal earlier in his career, as well as his connections to the Gevirtz Leadership Institute at UCSB, allows him to relate well with students.
“As students, our feeling is that he’s going to make a difference in regards to parking and the I.V. Master Plan,” Ray said, “He’s here all the time and based on his experience as an educator, he brings in a newfound respect for students. I want people to know about the race because it really affects them on every level. He knows the new district attorney, Margaret O’Malley, and Brooks Firestone endorsed him. He knows the people that know I.V.”
Pohl said he believes cheap and plentiful education was is necessary for the state.
“The reason I ran is because I believe in giving people opportunities and a fair chance to participate in the American dream,” Pohl said. “The key to that is schools and making them affordable and accessible.”
Republican Paul Santiago, a junior political science major, said he appreciated Pohl coming to I.V. to speak directly to the students.
“He has a real vision for this district,” Santiago said, “We need someone who’s moderate and can get the job done and who cares about UCSB and I.V. That’s why he’s coming here. It’s really impressive to see a candidate who will come and talk. In my opinion, it shows that he cares about us.”
Pohl said he thought the district was being mismanaged, and as state assemblyman, he would put political pressure on local government to change things.
“I think there’s been a lot of money spent on the master plan with very little result. We need to accelerate it and get more student input,” Pohl said. “We need to look at other solutions, like parking structures or other alternatives. Part of service is willpower, and part is perceived power – being able to bully. I may not have the actual power to personally change things like the master plan, but I can use political capital to move things along. You can pick apart tiny things, but I think we need a whole new approach.”