From tangible change in Isla Vista to offering students internships in local government, David Smyser has a long list of goals he wants to help 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone achieve.
Smyser, who will serve as Firestone’s chief of staff, is in charge of managing and coordinating the staff members of the district office. However, he said his duties will extend beyond office management and will include dealing with county residents on an individual basis.
“Primarily, I handle constituent issues, so if somebody has a concern, problem, or particular issue with the county, I respond,” Smyser said. “We just respond to everything from animal control issues to potholes in front of somebody’s house, and we, in many cases, are just advocates for the constituent to the various county departments to ensure that their problem gets taken care of.”
Smyser said Firestone’s office is already working to line the streets of I.V. with new trees and parking spaces. He said it is also working to create new housing and zoning laws to improve business opportunities in I.V. and simultaneously provide more housing.
A 49-year-old father of three, Smyser is an avid surfer and horseback rider who has been heavily involved in local government for many years. He served as mayor of Solvang between December 2003 and December 2004, in addition to stints as the city’s planning commissioner and a Solvang city councilman.
“I have in my background a lot of experience with city government and with the infrastructure of cities and communities,” Smyser said. “I was mayor of Solvang and I understand how to develop a community, so I have experience in that. I think Solvang is a good example of what can be done [in the 3rd District].”
Smyser said his experience in public service also includes running a Solvang-based law and mediation practice, working with a humanitarian educational program in Ghana, and spending eight years doing disaster relief work in South America during the early 1980s.
Smyser’s wife of 27 years, Sandra, is currently the superintendent of schools for Carpinteria. The couple has a son in the Peace Corps in Swaziland, a daughter at West Point Military Academy and another son who is currently a junior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
UCSB students should already be able to see that Firestone’s administration is determined to deal more directly with I.V. than the previous 3rd District supervisor, Smyser said.
“We’ve already produced results in I.V., and I think if you mean being more constituent-friendly and more approachable, putting an office down in I.V., I think, was a huge step toward that goal,” Smyser said.
Increasing student involvement in government at the county level is one of his personal goals for the Firestone administration, Smyser said, and students will soon be able to apply for internships in the supervisor’s office.
“Our district will be providing internship opportunities for UCSB students, and we’ll act as a doorway to all other county departments so students can work in an area that interests them,” Smyser said.
Although he is confident in his administration’s ability to effect change, Smyser said he is also concerned that students will expect I.V. to improve instantly.
“Probably, in I.V., it has been so bad for so long that people expect things to change overnight,” Smyser said. “And while things will occur rapidly to improve living conditions in I.V., we can’t erase these problems immediately.”