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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Last Chance to See (Most of) the Candidates for Assembly

A trio of community-minded activists, concerned that the local race for state Assembly has been overshadowed by the Board of Supervisors contests, has organized a late-breaking debate to hear from the legislative contenders on Wednesday evening.

At last count, five of the seven candidates – Jonathan Abboud, Steve Bennett, Stephen Blum, Charles Cole and Jason Dominguez – have confirmed for the event, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the University Club. Mayor Cathy Murillo and women’s health advocate Elsa Granados have conflicting commitments, organizers said.

“There have been few Assembly candidate debates in Santa Barbara —— all attention seems to be going to the (Board of Supervisors 1st District) contest,” said Betsy Cramer, one of those putting together the forum.

“With many residents still undecided and the decisions of our Assembly member in Sacramento playing such critical roles in Santa Barbara’s future, a few residents decided we needed to see these candidates debate in Santa Barbara," she added.

Cramer, a member of the Citizens Planning Association and the city's Harbor Commission, scrambled, along with architect Fred Sweeney and Sue Mellor, a Mesa representative to the Allied Neighborhood Association, to nail down the logistics for the affair in just a few days.

There have been two previous Assembly forums, one in Carpinteria and one in Ventura, both organized by the League of Women Voters.

Members of the Allied Neighborhoods Association, Citizens Planning Association, Bella Riviera, The Eastside Collation, Eucalyptus Hill Association, Mission Canyon Association, Pearl Chase Society, Oak Park Neighborhood Association, Riviera Association, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Santa Barbara Conservancy, Santa Barbara Eastside Society, Summerland Citizens Association and other groups have been invited to Wednesday's event, which is open to the public.

State of play. The 37th Assembly District includes Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Buellton and Solvang in SB County, and Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai, Fillmore and Santa Paula in Ventura County.

The seat is currently held by Assembly member Monique Limon, who is running for election to the state Senate in the 19th Senate District to replace the termed-out Hannah-Beth Jackson.

There are 276,329 registered voters in the district, according to California's Secretary of State -- 137,998 in Santa Barbara County and 138,331 in Ventura County. Of the total, 46 percent are registered Democrats, 23 percent Republicans, 24 percent No Party Preference independents and the balance from smaller parties.

The top two finishers in the March 3 election, regardless of party, will move on to a November 3 runoff. Cole is the sole Republican in the contest; the other six candidates are Democrats.

Wednesday's debate is to include opening statements and responses to questions solicited in advance by the organizers.

A portion of the event also will devoted to audience questions.

Mr. Cranky Pants will moderate.

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