Former state assemblywoman and KCSB 91.9 FM commentator Hannah-Beth Jackson announced her decision to run in the California State Senate race for the 19th District yesterday afternoon.

Surrounded by supporters both personal and political, Jackson confirmed her candidacy at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara. A Democrat who served in the California Legislature from 1998 to 2004, Jackson was introduced and promoted by an array of local politicians, including Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, Mayor Pro-Tempore Helene Schneider and Santa Barbara Councilman Das Williams. Each politician gave brief speeches advocating Jackson’s merit, focusing on her experience and dedication to issues such as education, health care and the environment.

Throwing her support behind Jackson in the senatorial race, Blum said she was pleased to see a candidate running who is responsive to the community and has proven her ability to work well with other elected officials.

Williams, who has worked closely with Jackson for several years, said she is a trustworthy and dedicated political ally, citing the five years the former assemblywoman spent pushing legislation to ban certain types of coastal oil drilling.

In Schneider’s speech, she said she supports Jackson because of various political accomplishments, in particular, her dedication to supporting women’s rights.

“The issues she tackles are the hardest ones,” Schneider said. “She does it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Speaking on her own behalf, Jackson said she is dedicated to ending the oil-drilling activities off the California coast, supporting alternative energy solutions, achieving universal healthcare for all Californians and working to build consensus within the senate in order to pass important legislation.

Later, Jackson, who has taught a number of courses at UCSB in recent years and served for six years on the California State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, discussed her dedication to lowering the costs of attending the University of California.

Jackson said she would like to relieve some of the economic burdens currently placed on students, because she thinks too many of them graduate in debt.

“We need to stop bleeding from the pockets of our young people,” Jackson said.

Jackson, a Santa Barbara resident, joins Jim Dantona (D) and Tony Strickland (R) in the race for the California’s 19th District seat, currently occupied by Republican Senator Tom McClintock.

McClintock may run for re-election, depending on whether the Term Limits and Legislative Reform Act passes. If passed, the ballot measure would effectively bar the senator from another term.

Democratic Party Region 10 Director Bob Handy said Jackson is an obvious choice for candidacy. According to Handy, Jackson’s extensive experience in the political realm sets her apart from the other candidates.

The 19th district encompasses the Conejo Valley, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ojai and portions of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.