Newsmakers with JR
Ask the Mayor: Randy Talks Crime, Gangs, State St., Housing - and Re-elect
In a special "Ask the Mayor" edition of Newsmakers TV, Randy Rowse on Friday said there is no "trend" of gang violence in Santa Barbara and defended the city's response to the murder of a tourist in an alleged gang shoot-out at the Wharf.
"We got the guys," the mayor said.
Responding to criticism that he and the SB Police Department were not transparent enough in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Rob Gutierrez, an innocent bystander from Camarillo visiting the city with his wife, who was caught in an alleged shootout between rival gangs.
Praising the investigation that led to the arrest as, "careful, precise and sensitive to the victim's family." Rowse shrugged off the suggestion that he should have taken a high-profile public stance in the case. "You've got to follow the lead of your law enforcement officials."
Addressing online and social media broadsides aimed at Police Chief Kelly Gordon for stating, in an interview with Newsmakers, that "we do not have a gang problem" in Santa Barbara, the mayor said critics were quarreling over semantics:
“I don’t see it as a trend,” he said of a series of recent incidents linked to alleged gang members. Casting back to his decade at City Hall, he said there is "an ebb and flow” to gang activity, and praised the city and the SBPD for doing “a good job of being vigilant and staying on top of it.”
Fielding questions from Josh Molina and the genial host on a range of key issues facing the city, the mayor also expressed annoyance at the lack of support for his preference of "an interim plan" for State Street, as long-range planning proceeds; offered a hint of a possible breakthrough in the stalled process of revamping Paseo Nuevo; and chided Supervisor Das Williams for conniving, on behalf of a private developer, to block the city from obtaining a $1.2 million grant to design and adopt a comprehensive plan for housing at La Cumbre Plaza.
Plus: an update on homelessness, an early assessment of the new city Administrator and the future of De La Guerra Plaza.
Oh, also: he intends to run for re-election: "That's my plan," said the mayor, elected in 2021. "I like this job."
All this and more, right here, right now on Newsmakers TV. Check out our conversation with Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.