Since the recent debate regarding military recruiters on campus, one thing has become obvious — political activism is misguided.
In this country, change is possible. On our campus, change is possible. This change requires voters to vote and it requires you to engage in local politics. Political activism is not active when ideas are merely stated. There are too many statements at UCSB.
The source for change is local government. In reality, it can be hard to push ideas through government. Politicians often either lose enthusiasm after their election or act unilaterally to push personal agendas. In reality, the political process can be slow and frustrating. That is, except in Santa Barbara County. Here, government is doing its job while people of this county are not.
Brooks Firestone, our 3rd District supervisor, is not a politician. He is a leader who sees the need for change after 18 years of almost no tangible improvements in Santa Barbara County and Isla Vista. For 18 years, Isla Vista was drifting and literally falling into the ocean while students carried the idea they were saving it. Now in the event of change and new forms of environmentalism presented by Firestone — forms not confined to agitating litigation — people are sobering up.
After 11 years of plans for the bluff purchase, Firestone is completing the purchase in four months. After 18 years of talk about a parking structure, Firestone is currently finding an offsite lot for long-term parking; a plan that he says is “attainable, but certainly not perfect.” Cars will have a place to park while Firestone constructs a parking structure. Remember that these problems are problems because Isla Vista never had a master plan. Now there is action with solutions to pressing issues and a long-term plan.
Even politicians such as John Buttny, the executive assistant to former supervisor Gail Marshall and a “progressive” liberal, apparently got taxed in the political process. This is completely understandable, as his bread and butter, depended on appeasement. Ask yourself who the real progressive is. With a multimillion dollar business behind Firestone, he is not concerned about getting ahead in his government position to get a paycheck. He breaks the chains of party lines, caring more about the people and the trees that are affected by ordinances than the political process itself. Firestone cares about this county’s progress more than his own.
Firestone is “depressed by the far right and far left. Beware of single issues, beware of extremes; they are counter-productive. I don’t care anymore about the Nancy Pelosis and Tom DeLays. In my case, the partisan players of Santa Barbara are refusing to look at the oak trees. They only look at the ordinances.”
If you don’t believe it, ask the man himself.
There are two parties for a reason. There is a Congress and supervisors for a reason. Call them. Go to their offices. Give them ideas and proposals for what you want.
In fact, you will not even have to make the trip to State Street to tell Firestone what you think and what you want done in Isla Vista. Today at 7:30 p.m. in Phelps 1260, Firestone is coming to you. If you ever wanted a parking space, lighted streets, more oak trees, an affordable housing project that worked, or bike paths to the north, Firestone is working on it. Today is your time to exercise real political activism with the man elected as your representative. Use it.
Sally Marois is a sophomore pre-law and political science major.