Steve Pappas, a defeated 2008 Third District Supervisor candidate, announced on Dec. 28 that he would once again be challenging incumbent Doreen Farr for her seat in the upcoming 2012 election.
After losing to Farr in 2008 by a slim margin, Pappas challenged the legitimacy of Farr’s election in Santa Barbara Superior Court, claiming improper voter registration proceedings in 18 Isla Vista and UCSB precincts. Though the Superior Court dismissed the case, Pappas continued to pursue a string of appeals until last month when the California Secretary of State’s Office announced that it found insufficient evidence to recommend filing criminal charges.
In August, the Santa Barbara County Superior Court ordered Pappas to pay Farr $700,000 in compensation for legal fees incurred by his series of unsuccessful suits and appeals, which continued for much of the past three years.
“He’s lost every step of the way,” Farr said. “We’ve had at least five different entities look at this and all come to the same conclusion, that there was no fraud.”
Pappas, a registered nonpartisan, also owns two Santa Ynez-based companies and previously served as president of the Los Olivos School Board. According to Pappas, his time as an involved community member has prepared him well to serve as District Supervisor.
“Transparency in the way the Third District and the county is run is something that every voter should be concerned with,” Pappas said in his press release. “After more than a dozen years of careful research and involvement in the community, I clearly understand the issues that this district and county faces and that changes that need to take place to have effective policy and decision-making in an open and lawful environment.”
Santa Barbara County’s Third District is the largest of the five supervisorial districts and contains a diverse constituency including UCSB and Isla Vista. In the 2008 election, the Isla Vista and UCSB precincts voted strongly in support of Farr.
According to Farr, Pappas’ investigation and court cases were solely concerned with the voting in those precincts.
“He claimed that there was massive fraud, just in those precincts,” Farr said. “He didn’t examine any of the other precincts in the county or in the Third District. It really has been probably the most scrutinized election in our county’s history as far as I can tell.”
Pappas said his renewed bid for the Third District Supervisor’s seat is in part an attempt to correct some of the problems he feels plague local governmental agencies.
“The purpose of our government is to represent the people and to do so honestly, ethically and with sound principles,” Pappas said in a press release. “The more involved I continue to be with community and political issues, the more I see a growing need to change how our government works or, in fact, does not work.”
Farr said she has made several efforts to increase her accessibility to her constituents over her past three years in office, including speaking to student groups, meeting with UCSB’s Legislative Council and holding “sidewalk office hours” on Pardall Road to address student concerns.
“I do feel that my time on the board the last three years, the values I have [and] the issues that I have pursued are a reflection of the people in my district, including the student community,” Farr said. “When it comes to government accountability and transparency and being accessible, I think that that is really important.”
According to Farr, Pappas’ inquiries into the legitimacy of the UCSB and Isla Vista ballots indicated his view of the voting blocs in question.
“No matter what Mr. Pappas may have said in the first campaign, I think that when he tried to invalidate the value, the worth of all of the ballots at UCSB and Isla Vista, he was making a statement there that the students really need to understand,” Farr said.