As the Santa Barbara City Council’s Nov. 8 elections draw near, numerous community political groups are gearing up with candidate forums, public discussions and candidate celebrations.

Three current council members’ terms of office expire this year, including Dale Francisco, Randy Rowse and Michael Self. Mayor Helen Schneider and city council members Grant House, Frank Hotchkiss and Harwood White’s terms of office will expire in 2013.

The main issues facing candidates this year include the city budget and the long-standing issues of public safety, homelessness and environmental issues.

Candidates Iya Falcone, Deborah Schwartz and Cathy Murillo will run for the Democrats’ side in the face of a conservative-heavy council, with four out of the six seats currently occupied by Republicans. Falcone served as Santa Barbara city councilwoman from 2001 to 2009 and Schwartz served as Santa Barbara Planning Commissioner. Murillo has served as News and Public Affairs Director at KCSB in addition to working at several local newspapers.

Independent candidate Sharon Byrne has served on the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Advisory Council and was former Deputy Director of California Common Cause.

Republican candidates Francisco, Rowse and Self are all running for re-election this November. Francisco has served since 2007 and Rowse since 2010, while Self was first elected in 2009. Former Santa Barbara mayor and Democrat Sheila Lodge announced her support for the three republican candidates in her controversial public statement at City Hall last Tuesday.

The League of Women Voters hosted a forum with 10 city council candidates at the Santa Barbara Central Library’s Faulkner Gallery this past Saturday to discuss issues ranging from the city budget to public safety and the local ban on plastic bags.

Upcoming forums include the Upper East Association Forum at the Old Mission Renewal Center’s Friar’s Lounge tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. The forum will allow Upper East residents to individually meet the candidates and will conclude with a short formal presentation by the candidates on pressing community matters.

The Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association Candidate Forum will host a Santa Barbara City Council luncheon and forum tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort. In addition, the Arts Collaborative Forum will hold a discussion with candidates on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ways to preserve and celebrate the art culture of Santa Barbara at the Marjorie Luke Theater at Santa Barbara Junior High School.

The Santa Barbara Conservancy and Santa Barbara View will co-host a forum with city council candidates on Oct. 5 at the Santa Barbara Library’s Faulkner Gallery to discuss issues including Santa Barbara’s historical resources. The organizations will invite community and candidate input on methods to protect the area from development that threatens its local history, architecture and wildlife.

The Environmental Defense Center, Transition House, La Casa De La Raza, Casa Esperanza, Pacific Pride Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club will co-sponsor the Local Issues Candidate Forum on Monday, Oct. 10 at 6: 30 p.m. at La Casa Raza to discuss a variety of concerns with local organization and community members.

The Youth Council and Future Leaders of America Youth’s Candidate will host a forum on Oct. 17 where candidates will share their ideas and views on issues concerning Santa Barbara youth at the Louise Lowry Davis Center.

Those 18 years and over can register to vote until Oct. 24 by calling (805) 568-2200 or filling out a voter registration form at