This coming June, UCSB students will have the opportunity to vote in a candidate to represent them and the 37th District in California’s State Assembly. The 37th District covers Goleta, the greater Santa Barbara area, Channel Islands, and Carpinteria. The office is currently held by Assemblymember Monique Limon. Limon is running for re-election against two challengers, Sofia Collin and David L. Norrdin.
In a three-part series, The Bottom Line will be publishing interviews with each candidate ahead of the June primary. This first segment is an interview with Sofia Collin, a registered Democrat. Collin has a background in philosophy and ethics at the undergraduate and graduate level at UC Berkeley and Claremont Graduate University which has given her the ability to better evaluate solutions to support California’s citizens.
This interview was conducted through email and phone and has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
Why are you running for the 37th District, and what makes you different from the other candidates running for the position?
I wish to become California’s 37th District Assembly Member because I feel that I have a unique approach to law-making and problem-solving, which would bring peace and prosperity to District 37 and the state of California. I believe in uniting our people, not taking sides. I wish to change the dynamics of politics by eliminating the negativity, competitiveness, and exorbitant campaign spending that clouds the democratic process. Ideas matter — not monetary or defamatory influences.
What are some of the main problems facing California today and what solutions should California be considering in tackling these issues?
If elected, I wish to help our homeless community members by creating a temporary employment agency entitled “Phoenix,” where homeless individuals would be able to find employment, health services, and eventually housing options. All liability would be the agency’s, not the business owner’s, while our community members are employed through Phoenix. Homeless individuals would be able to build a resume, and gain access to more complex and higher-paying work as a result.
The goal is to transition and integrate those struggling with homeless into society with grace and dignity. Everyone deserves a job who wants one.
There is a significant tension and profound distrust between our police officers and our citizens. This is not just a district-specific, or statewide problem, but a national one. To me, the tension is a result of three main factors. One, police enforce law by punishment — and punishment alone, but a relationship founded on punishment incites fear and resentment. Two, the act of punishing is psychologically detrimental to the police officer — leading to desensitization, fear, and sometimes to an overzealous approach to enforcement. Three, this growing tension marginalizes police, further worsening relations between police and citizens.
Merit ticketing would support California’s people by empowering law enforcement with the means to recognize citizens who positively contribute to society, which would improve relations between peace officers and citizens, as well as alleviate the officer from the encumbrance of engaging solely in negative situations.
The basic structure of merit ticketing is as follows: One, a nominal fee would be added to all tickets on the uniform penalty and bail schedule; the fees collected would be deposited into the merit ticketing fund. Two, police issue merit tickets (a maximum of 30 per month, which do not accrue) of monetary value ([each is worth] minimum wage in state of issue) to citizens who do good acts in their community witnessed by local law enforcement. Three, merit ticketing would be a tool, not an extra responsibility or burden — an optional action that police can make to interact with the public to promote prosperity in their communities. What is essential to the role of peacekeeper is that he/she promotes and celebrates peace.
In order to celebrate and cultivate peace, meritorious action, not just reprehensible action, should be acknowledged. Merit ticketing would unite citizens by promoting and acknowledging the deeds of the citizen that improve society as a whole, uniting by free agency and societal strengths, not their aberrations. Peace is more than the absence of reprehensible action — it is the celebration of mankind’s goodness, and the power of human compassion.
I would promote legislation that would make the consideration of the environment an irrevocable part of bill writing. That is, when a bill is being written, there must be a section of the text dedicated to addressing the bill’s effects on the environment. As a result, discussions of the environment would be a vital part of all legislative activities, ensuring greater awareness and conservation efforts.
Fiscal impact is always a consideration in writing legislation. Why are our natural resources — and ultimately what gives value to our currency — not considered? Our environment is the foundation of all human activity; as such, our governmental activities should cultivate pathways to preserve and nurture its resources, not just utilize them.
How do we make all higher education (including community college, CSUs, UCs, and private schools) more affordable?
I call it “From Change to Change”: I propose a special tax on the sale of all single-use plastic bottled products, which would go entirely to cover the cost of tuition for students in the UC and CSU system. The tax would play the double role in promoting the use of biodegradable alternatives and reducing plastic waste in our oceans and land, all while supporting education.
Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year alone. Take 50 billion bottles and multiply it by a one-cent tax on every bottle and you get $500 million. Now imagine all of the other specialty beverages served in single-use plastic bottles and what a one-cent tax could do for our education system.
California seems to be in the middle of a serious housing crisis. Recently, Vox reported April last month that “the state’s population has steadily grown, but hasn’t been building new places for people to live at anything close to the same rate. It now ranks 49th in housing units per capita.” CityLab finds that California is “home to more than one-fifth of the nation’s homeless people” with numbers continuing to grow. These patterns have also hurt students in higher education who are looking for housing but are finding it less and less affordable. What are some of your proposals to aid housing issues in California?
Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have restrictive building laws and lengthy permitting processes that could be reviewed. In addition, the statewide drought has played a critical role in California’s current housing shortage; there are restrictions on the construction of new buildings based on water allocation rights, and water supply. I believe if we can work on securing new reliable water resources in this state, then we might have an answer to the creation of new housing.
What are your opinions on Isla Vista governance and self-determination?
In my opinion, Isla Vista should stay unincorporated for now; Isla Vista should empower its students and citizens, not form more government agencies and oversight.
Why should students go out and vote in the upcoming election?
I encourage everyone to vote, as we are all pillars of justice. I encourage you to vote, even if it is not for me, because the diversity of our voices makes the profound harmony of democracy possible. Your generation is poised, deeply compassionate, and intelligent; I have a wholehearted faith in your ability to make the decisions and changes that will take us in the right direction as a state and community.