The Isla Vista Community Services District appointed Kristie Nguyen, a UC Santa Barbara second-year sociology major, to fill the previously vacant seat on the board of directors through a unanimously supported motion during its meeting on Tuesday.
Nguyen is the first woman of color to serve on the I.V. Community Services District (I.V. CSD).
After an hour and a half of candidate interviews, public comment and board discussion, the board of directors selected Nguyen to the position due to her experience with university and community organizations and her diverse perspective.
“Being able to have a board that looks like the community and especially women and women of color is really something that strikes me as [having] paramount importance,” I.V. CSD President Spencer Brandt said at the meeting Tuesday evening.
Nguyen was chosen over Jeremy Levine, a UCSB fourth-year economics and statistical double major, the only other applicant out of the initial four who applied. Two of the initial applicants, Jeremy Roark and Lindsay Sherman, dropped out of the running by the start of the CSD’s meeting on Tuesday.
Nguyen received strong support from board president Spencer Brandt and board directors Ethan Bertrand and Robert Geis. All three cited Nguyen’s racial and gender diversity, compared to the previously all-male board, as factors in their decision, along with her experience campaigning for Measure R and her publicity experience in Alpha Delta Pi and Campus Democrats.
“It’s incumbent on all of us to be building the next generation of leaders, and diverse generation of leaders,” Bertrand said.
“I believe that Kristie brings different involvement in the community that we don’t really have at the table right now, especially with her involvement with leadership in the Greek community and sorority community,” Bertrand said.
Although voting in support of the motion to appoint Nguyen, directors Jay Freeman and Jon Hedges pointed to Levine as their initial pick for the position.
Levine’s widespread work and “valuable” familiarity with other I.V. groups, including I.V. Recreation and Park District and the Environmental Affairs Board, made him better suited for the position, Freeman said.
“Everyone I talked to has dealt with Jeremy Levine and no one I talked to had ever dealt with Kristie,” Freeman said.
Freeman came to the meeting on Tuesday intending to support Sherman for the position, but after Sherman dropped, Freeman turned his support to Levine.
“I really wanted to come here and be excited to put a woman on our board,” Freeman said. “I’m backing with Jeremy right now.”
Hedges cited Levine’s record of “reaching across the aisle [and] having a sense of who’s across the aisle” in regard to different political and social groups in I.V. as his reason for supporting Levine.
“We have to continually reach for that which unites us somehow, that coalesces us somehow, that unifies us somehow in a way that transcends our party,” Hedges said.
During her term, Nguyen said she wants to focus on issues I.V. residents are currently facing, including women’s rights, sexual assault, public safety, lighting deficiencies and lack of parking.
Nguyen said her variety of perspectives and involvement in the community and campus is an advantage that will be applicable to her service on the board.
“Students definitely want to see a familiar face and to know that there is someone just like them that can run for a leadership role,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen hopes the experience she gains during her term will help her work on policymaking in the future.
“I feel so honored, really, to be on a board of so many people that are so experienced with local government and policymaking, and that’s what I want to do in the future. I’m just so excited,” Nguyen said.
Updated [5:18 p.m.]: Levine is a member of the Environmental Affairs Board, not the Environmental Awareness Board, as stated in a previous version of this article.
Max Abrams contributed reporting.