Board of directors candidate Joel Ruiz suspended his campaign Sunday, saying it would be an “uphill battle” to continue in the race until the November election.
After a lengthy phone discussion with his campaign team, the second-year global studies major said he accepted that his workload and insufficient campaign funds would make it difficult to vie for office in the Isla Vista Community Services District (CSD).
His opponent, Ethan Bertrand, who serves on the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District (IVRPD) board of directors, will now be the only candidate actively campaigning for the CSD board seat.
The CSD is a proposed special district formed under California Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3), which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law last October. If Isla Vistans approve Measures E and F in November, the local government will have the ability to improve infrastructure and institute community policing amongst several other functions.
AB 3 outlines that the CSD board of directors is made up of seven members, five of whom are elected at large. These five elected members are to have differing term lengths: four directors serve for four years and one director serves for two years.
For only the inaugural election, however, two of the four-year members will serve for just two years.
Ruiz declared candidacy in August, days before the filing deadline, to run against Bertrand for the single, permanent, two-year seat. An active member of VOCEROS de UCSB and a football coach at San Marcos High School, Ruiz wanted to represent Latino residents in Isla Vista.
“I have and I will continue to be a voice for those segments of the community, especially for those who are underserved and underrepresented.” — Ethan Bertrand
In an interview with the Nexus on Monday, however, Ruiz said he joined the race unsure of his decision at the time.
“It kind of just came quick. When I filed, I was filing because I didn’t want to miss the filing deadline,” he said. “I didn’t want to have to regret not filing.”
Unable to attain multiple endorsements or funds, Ruiz said he considered suspending the campaign early in the race. He said he needed the convincing of his campaign manager, Alejandra Melgoza, who sought election as Associated Students President last spring, to finally make the decision Sunday.
“I’m not someone who quits easily,” he said. “It was really hard for me to accept it, to come to terms with the reality of it.”
Ruiz is not the first candidate to leave the CSD race. Clark Covolo decided a week before the August filing deadline that he would drop out, opting to run for the IVRPD board instead.
Unlike Covolo, however, Ruiz is unable to withdraw his name from the November ballot, despite his decision to halt active campaigning. The county’s deadline to add or remove names on the ballot was Aug. 12.
With Ruiz suspending his campaign, Bertrand said he will now focus more on other candidates and measures: Salud Carbajal for Congress, Joan Hartmann for Supervisor and Yes on Measures E & F. He will also be promoting his CSD “running mates” Natalie Jordan, Father Jon-Stephen Hedges and Spencer Brandt.
Bertrand said he commends Ruiz for his “interest in improving Isla Vista” and will continue to advocate for the Latino community as Ruiz did.
“I have and I will continue to be a voice for those segments of the community, especially for those who are underserved and underrepresented,” Bertrand said.
Although he does not yet want to throw his support behind any specific candidate, Ruiz said he is “happy” for Bertrand.
“I’m sure he’ll do fine,” Ruiz said. “Hopefully he serves the community and has its best interests at heart.”
Candidates for the temporary two-year positions still face active competition. Jordan, Hedges, Michael Kile and Andrew Gabriel Pragin oppose each other for the two seats, although Jordan and Hedges consider each other running mates.
Correction: Measure F, a utility users tax, is needed along with Measure E to provide services in Isla Vista.