Santa Barbara business owners will host a debate featuring candidates for 19th District Senator — Republican Mike Stoker and Democrats Hannah-Beth Jackson and Jason Hodge — at 5 p.m. at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort.

The free event will be moderated by esteemed journalist and former San Francisco Chronicle editor Jerry Roberts, with candidates slated to discuss local energy use, taxes, environmental preservation and various other political playing fields that impact small businesses. The debate will be the trio’s first public discussion regarding the current fiscal climate in the primary election process.

Jackson, who vehemently opposes offshore drilling and has chaired a number of environmental committees, discourages outsourcing beyond Californian borders and strives to fight against corporate tax evasion.

Hodge hopes to approve $43 billion in pending construction projects, make California residents more business-friendly and reorganize wasteful, tax-funded state and local agencies. Hodge, a firefighter, is endorsed by California Chief Fiscal Officer John Chiang.

Stoker supports a proposed spending cap on state budgets with more resources delegated to local government, ideally eliminating the need for tax increases, and advocates strongly for the private sector. Stoker also pledged his support for an initiative that would require 70 percent of all money budgeted for public education to be spent within the classroom.

The event is sponsored by the Milpas Community Association, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Organization, the Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association, the Greater Santa Barbara Lodging and Restaurant Association, the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and guests are encouraged to RSVP at