Evaluating Laura Capps, Sole Candidate for Santa Barbara County Supervisor

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Photo Courtesy of Santa Barbara County Democratic Party

Avery Gunderson

International/National Beat Reporter

This year’s June 7 California primary will mark the first time Isla Vista (I.V.) votes with the second district instead of the third to elect local government officials. As an unincorporated community, I.V.  now heavily depends upon the county supervisor for representation under the second district. 

Laura Capps is running for the position of county supervisor unopposed, during a primary that so far has garnered little attention from voters. 

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara’s County Surveyor Office

Capps is a progressive-oriented candidate. She received endorsements from the Santa Barbara Independent and the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, as well as the Laborers International Union of North America.

Although she was born and raised in Santa Barbara, Capps grew up immersed in Washington politics. She served as a White House speechwriter for President Clinton, a communications director for John Kerry and Senator Edward Kennedy, and a member of Al Gore’s climate change organization.

As a supervisor candidate, Capps is notably well-versed in the intersectionality of discussions on climate change, particularly in Santa Barbara. As a member of the Santa Barbara Unified School Distract board for over five years, she helped bring 14 solar energy installations to over 20 school campuses. Through her membership in the Community Environmental Council, she helped establish the Community Ambassador Program to aid frontline communities, breaking down participation and language barriers. 

The County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors is responsible for appointing staff, approving budgets, and passing legislation. Their meetings are open to the public and may be reviewed here

The board’s influence is not as far reaching as other entities, such as the governor’s office but, as a local entity, its actions have a uniquely direct impact on the people it serves. One example is when supervisors delayed voting on an amendment to the County Land Use and Development Code that would have required cannabis growers to obtain a $12,000 Conditional Use Permit in place of the current Land Use Permit. The county supervisors were criticized by the court Grand Jury for allowing the cannabis market to become inundated with sellers, heightening competition and plummeting prices, generating nearly 40 percent less revenue in county taxes on marijuana sales than last year. Outgoing supervisor for the second district Greg Hart was one of the only two board members who voted against the amendment. 

Hart held the position with great experience in supervising numerous committees, such as the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment and the Behavioral Wellness Commission. He also supervised numerous committees such as in the position of executive director of the county’s Association of Governments Traffic Solution, which helped him make grounds on green and accessible transportation. 

Hart has publicly endorsed Laura Capps as his (highly likely) successor for the County Supervisor position.

The issue that current nominees face is the significantly underwhelming voter turnout rate. The June 7 California primary election is a midterm gubernatorial election, which, according to Santa Barbara County elections czar Joe Holland, regularly receive poor turnout. 

Just over 2,000 ballots have been cast from the roughly 65,000 eligible 18-34 year old voters. UC Santa Barbara students mostly fall within this age group, and their participation in the democratic process is paramount to accurately represent I.V. under the second district. 

Those wishing to vote may do so through the Same Day Voter Registration process and must visit an early voting location. Voters may also drop off their ballots at a secure ballot drop box, a polling location, or the county election office by 8 p.m. on June 7.

For registered voters, ballots may be mailed in as long as they are postmarked before or on election day and received by the U.S. Postal Service by June 14. Polls will be open for in-person voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 7. To check the status of your ballot, visit “My Voter Status” online. Election results will be verified and posted by the secretary of state on June 15.