Eight candidates submitted applications for the vacant seat on the Isla Vista Community Services District Board of Directors as of the Feb. 2 deadline.
The Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) is appointing one candidate to its board after Ethan Bertrand stepped down as IVCSD director to serve on the Goleta Union School District Board in December 2022. The person appointed to the vacant seat would serve for the remainder of Bertrand’s four-year term — set to expire December 2024.
UC Santa Barbara students Kellen Beckett, Ela Schulz, Brian Naraghi and Ryan Bender represent half of the candidates. UCSB alumni and community members Christina Lydick, Henry Sarria, Laura Dewey and Scott Ball make up the remaining applicants.
Beckett, a third-year international relations and writing and literature double major, currently serves as a collegiate senator in Associated Students at UCSB.
He highlighted IVCSD’s work to reopen the I.V. Community Center, evaluate local law enforcement presence and improve street lighting as important goals to further develop if appointed.
“I believe in the Board’s goal to reopen the Isla Vista Community Center, as I truly think it can be a place for open, safe events that can bring residents together who feel as if they don’t have a place in this community,” he said in his application. “I also think it’s very important to manage community policing in a way where students are safe from serious threats without feeling persecuted, especially minority students who cannot feel safe around law enforcement.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important IVCSD’s priority is of creating and maintaining infrastructure that serves all Isla Vista residents, and I appreciate the work IVCSD has done thus far with events like the lighting walk,” he continued. “I would love to help my community through service on the Board and dedicate my time to ensuring these goals happen.”
Second-year history and political science double major Schulz cited her involvement in UCSB Model United Nations and pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, as well as her field internship with Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office, in her application.
As a board member, Schulz said she would represent the student and Greek life community by advocating for improvements to nighttime safety and solutions for affordable housing.
“I am particularly drawn to this position because I have had the opportunity to live in I.V. since the beginning of my freshman year, and it has quickly become a place that is close to my heart,” Schulz said in her application. “There is no other UC school that has such a small, connected community that is supported by both students and families alike. It is such a wonderful place, and I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to use my skills and knowledge to help improve I.V. for the community now and for many years to come.”
Naraghi plans on graduating from UCSB in June 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and attending law school “in the near future,” according to his letter of intent.
Third-year political science and economics double major Bender said his membership with UCSB Campus Democrats fostered his interest in local government.
“From my time field interning with the Campus Dems on Salud Carbajal’s congressional campaign and through living in Isla Vista in general I have developed a strong appreciation for our local community and local politics that I believe will make me well suited for this position,” Bender said in his application.
Lydick, an I.V. resident of 14 years, graduated from UCSB in 2013 with a degree in Earth science and an emphasis on geophysics. Since then, Lydick has worked with various local entities to support marginalized and in-need community members, including people experiencing houselessness or struggles related to mental health and substance use.
Lydick provided case management and housing navigation services as a Santa Barbara County (SBC) AmeriCorps member from 2016-19. During her employment with United Way of SBC, Lydick created and oversaw I.V. Beautiful — a beautification program that IVCSD now manages.
“In my work with our unhoused neighbors in Isla Vista, I started a community coffee hour to help connect unhoused and low-income residents with services and help bring together diverse members of our community to learn from each other in a safe and fortifying atmosphere,” Lydick wrote in her application. “I helped to create I.V. Beautiful to employ some of our neighbors who have experienced homelessness to serve and beautify our community.”
Longtime resident Sarria recently began pursuing local office after living in I.V. for 35 years. Sarria said that upon gaining U.S. citizenship in 2020, he finally had the opportunity to serve as a representative for the community.
“As a long-time resident of our community, I have seen changes take place and through those changes Isla Vista remains a dynamic, diverse, inclusive and welcoming community,” Sarria said in his application.
In the November 2022 general election, Sarria ran against newly elected IVCSD Director Olivia Craig for the available two-year seat. Craig, a second-year UCSB student majoring in environmental studies, won with 67% of the vote.
“From the Compost Collective to I.V. Beautiful, as well as many other milestones and accomplishments, IVCSD has implemented many things our community needs and my goal would be to sustain the work of the IVCSD moving forward,” he said in his application. “I would also work as a bridgebuilder and peacemaker to increase communication and ease tensions that may arise in our community.”
Dewey is a retired California lawyer and an I.V. resident of three years, currently living in the Friendship Manor senior housing community. Dewey attended both Santa Barbara City College and UCSB.
“I am very interested in contributing to the betterment of this lovely community and hope that you will consider me for this position,” Dewey said in her letter of intent. “I realize that I am considerably older than the other members of the Board and most of the residents of Isla Vista, but I am proud to be a member of this community and wish to be of service.”
UCSB alumnus and IVCSD board applicant Ball works as a legal solutions architect with previous experience as a real estate attorney, software engineer and outdoor educator for the Santa Barbara Adventure Company. In his application, Ball pitched ideas for improving IVCSD’s rental housing mediation program, community-police relations and the public’s use of the I.V. Community Center.
“The struggles of the IV renter are real right now, and IVCSD should do all that it can to render aid,” Ball said in his application. “My experience as a real estate lawyer gives me some ideas for how the existing mediation program could do more for renters.”
After graduating from UCSB in 2011, Ball moved back to the area of his alma mater over 10 years later, during which he unsuccessfully ran for IVRPD’s Board of Directors in a four-way race for two open seats.
IVCSD Board of Directors scheduled candidate interviews for Feb. 7 and 8 in the I.V. Community Room and over Zoom, and will reach a decision on Feb. 8.
The complete applications for all of the candidates can be found on the agendas for the Feb. 7 and 8 special board meetings on IVCSD’s website.