Correction: The following article originally quoted Dr. Dave Bearman as stating that he supports Brooks Firestone’s growth plan. In fact, he does not. The Nexus regrets this error.
Debating topics ranging from tenants’ rights to coastal development, the five candidates vying for the position of 3rd District supervisor met in front of a largely student audience in Isla Vista last night.
The event, hosted by Campus Democrats, allowed each candidate to respond to questions and explain his or her platform before residents vote in the June election to replace current supervisor, Brooks Firestone. The candidate who wins the position will govern over an area that includes I.V. and Solvang.
The candidates include former 2nd District Planning Commissioner Doreen Farr, I.V. Medical Clinic founder Dr. David Bearman, Los Olivos School District Board member Steven Pappas, former Solvang Mayor Dave Smyser and former Buellton Mayor Victoria Pointer.
As for Firestone, in a statement issued last fall, he declined to run for re-election in order to spend more time with his family. In January, he endorsed Smyser, who said at the debate last night that he was glad to have Firestone’s approval.
“I am proud to have endorsements of three sitting supervisors, every mayor in the county and two Goleta councilpersons,” Smyser said. “As [Firestone’s] chief of staff, I believe nonpartisanship is what this county needs. … Firestone summarized I.V. as a blighted community with unsafe sobriety stations, inadequate sidewalks [and] poor lighting. Over three years, the supervisor, myself and county staff worked with [the General Plan Advisory Committee] and the coalition of students at the university by implementing [a] master plan.”
Dr. Bearman said he would like to improve I.V. sidewalks, lighting and the noise ordinance, as well as making I.V. Foot Patrol more open and responsive to the community.
In an interview, Bearman said he supported the implementation of sobering stations and Measure P, which places marijuana infractions low on the totem of crimes most concerning police.
“I want to spend $5.7 million a year to deal with recidivism and early intervention and prevention and sobering stations instead of taking people to jail,” Bearman said. “I know a lot about I.V. … and I’m hoping I will appeal to the judgments of the electorate.”
Meanwhile, in reference to the 2006 Cedarwood Apartment evictions that forced many low-income families to relocate, Farr said in an interview that she plans to improve housing conditions in I.V.
“I happened to be in the board of supervisors hearing room when the 53 families were being evicted from the Cedarwood Apartments on very short notice,” Farr said. “The community was very upset about it. … I think the 3rd District office could have been more proactive about getting them relocated more quickly and with less stress. I feel strongly about tenants’ rights.”
With regards to both the property rights of landlords and the housing rights of the tenants, Pappas said he wants to ensure that both parties are treated fairly.
“We need to keep it simple and keep it real,” Pappas said. “You need to have something that’s very clean and very clear for the people living in their homes. If you get a notice that is telling you to leave, you need time to figure out your life. I would recommend six months to one year of mandatory noticing … but I would caution against rent control programs, [because] landlords will allow a building to deteriorate beyond the point of being inhabitable.”
In addition to developing secure, affordable housing, the issue of development along the Gaviota Coast was central to the debate. The issue concerns development of a stretch of coastline known as Naples, which is home to 195 species of birds, 60 species of fish and 1,400 different species of plants and animals.
Pointer said the area must be protected but granted that the property rights of landholders looking to sell should be maintained, as well. If elected supervisor, Pointer said that as a moderate, she would work hard to find a common ground for the various residents in the district. In regards to tenants’ rights, she mentioned that the county could create an ordinance, which forces landlords to issue eviction notices further in advance.
“You will not find any similarities between me and Brooks Firestone,” Pointer said. “We have very different styles and approaches to the issues. … I am the best candidate, because I can offer you a moderate voice.”
The night concluded with several questions from the audience. Attendees were welcomed to free Silvergreen’s, food and any information the candidates provided at their booths.