Running on a platform that includes creating an office in Isla Vista and preserving the Gaviota Coast, former Solvang Mayor Dave Smyser seeks to become the next 3rd District supervisor for Santa Barbara County.
Smyser, who is endorsed by outgoing supervisor Brooks Firestone, is the most recent addition to the list of contenders that includes former 2nd District Planning Commissioner Doreen Farr, I.V. Medical Clinic founder Dr. David Bearman and current Los Olivos School District board member Steven Pappas. If elected, Smyser would work alongside four other district supervisors and consider policy decisions that affect the county.
In an interview, Smyser, Firestone’s former chief of staff and planning commissioner, said ensuring a good future for his children was a large part of his decision to run for supervisor.
“I want my kids to find the same quality of life that I enjoyed here, but to find opportunities as well,” Smyser said.
Smyser began his political career as the planning commissioner for the city of Solvang, but was eventually elected to the city council and later served as mayor of the city. During his tenure as mayor, Smyser also served on the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District and the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission.
With regards to I.V., Smyser said he had seen considerable progress over the last three years as the result of more community involvement. For example, Smyser cited the work conducted by UCSB graduates and interns who were hired to assist with the I.V. Master Plan. The proposal, finalized last year, will attempt to beautify the area by improving sidewalks, bike routes, parks and storefronts, while also creating multistory buildings.
Smyser said he is also proud of the fact that the local government began working more closely with UCSB to bring student concerns to the forefront. As such, Smyser said he plans to establish an office in I.V. and hopefully bring students into his campaign.
“I’d be happy to have any student who wants to get involved in the election process work on the campaign and get involved,” Smyser said.
Firestone said he supports Smyser for the job and feels that the former mayor has sufficient experience in the county.
“I feel he is better qualified than I am,” Firestone said. “I think the county would be lucky to have him as supervisor.”
In addition to his experience with I.V., Smyser said he fought to keep urban boundaries and stop urban sprawl. Like Firestone, Smyser said he is devoted to preserving the Gaviota Coast and said that the 3rd District needs leaders who are committed to preserving this sensitive area.
“The Gaviota Coast is one of the gems of South County,” Smyser said. “I am committed to seeing no development on the Gaviota Coast.”
Smyser also said that land development will become an important issue in the upcoming election. His position on land development involves the county working with local communities to draft a plan that reflects the interests of the communities. He said the county should provide the planning and infrastructure professionals, but should ultimately rely on the community itself for a decision.
“It should be the local community in a public process that determines what the community will look like,” Smyser said.