Bob Pohl has bounced back from his narrow loss of the 35th District State Assembly race last November to become the right-hand man to 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone.
As a special assistant to Firestone, Pohl will serve as an adviser to the 3rd District Supervisor on local policy issues. Pohl said his position is unaffiliated with the county and said Firestone is paying him out of his own pocket. Pohl said his primary functions will be to gather background information and do research for Firestone to incorporate in his decision-making.
“I do research on [Firestone’s] behalf, meet with colleagues on his behalf, and help him formulate policies,” he said. “My goals are Brooks’ goals – to create a safe environment in I.V., to make better housing, to deal with the parking problem. One of his goals is to work closely with UCSB to get the county and university on the same page in terms of policy. There’s a sense of urgency to make some progress.”
In addition to standing in for Firestone during various meetings and conferences, Pohl said he works on many issues for Firestone, researching and examining the problems that affect the area.
“Brooks asked me to be involved in several areas including housing, the budget, healthcare and pension plans, and the vector control district,” Pohl said. “I’m an extra set of eyes. … I’m working with him on a housing plan for the county – there are people that want to live here that can’t live here. I do analysis on budget issues, long term cost implication, emergency services in the county, a potpourri like that.”
Pohl, a Republican known to I.V. locals by the yellow bus he used to campaign in I.V during the 2004 race for the 35th District State Assembly seat, said Firestone approached him to become his Special Assistant after he lost to Democratic opponent Pedro Nava following a lengthy ballot count.
Although he voiced strong opinions during the state assembly race on everything from creating an overall fiscal plan for the district and state to lowering UC tuition, Pohl said he is not concentrating on his own plans, but rather on those of Firestone.
“This is a different role than you saw me in before,” he said. “I’m serving to help [Firestone]. I don’t want to mix what I think with what he thinks, but Brooks and I think a lot alike. I know that in regard to I.V. he wants to see a real improvement. He wants to give it the ‘TLC’ that it needs.”
After spending weeks canvassing UCSB and I.V. and talking to students during his campaign, Pohl said he is more in touch with the student population and said he thinks he can impart that knowledge on Firestone.
“I just share my experiences,” Pohl said. “One of the things I really benefited from was my time in I.V. I know about the lack of a finished master plan and about the parking problem. Brooks is trying to improve the social and physical problems in I.V.”
While Pohl said he is an extension of Firestone and even stands in for him during meetings several times a week, Firestone has the final word.
“There’s only one decision maker,” Pohl said. “I give him information, give him data and make recommendations on policy.”
Pohl said most of his life has been geared toward education. He served as a principal of several inner-city schools in San Francisco and Mississippi, as a member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education and for one year as the director of strategic planning for the UCSB Gevirtz School of Education.
As the job of Special Assistant requires a varying degree of work at different times, Pohl said his schedule is very erratic.
“It’s an as-needed job,” Pohl said. “Sometimes it can be a long, arduous day and sometimes a short day, but I’m fully committed to making Brooks the best supervisor that he can be.”