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Notebook: Covid Forces KEYT's Salud-Andy Debate Virtual, School Race $, Cathy Soft Launch, Supes Pay


Andy's last stand: The one and only scheduled debate between Republican challenger Andy Caldwell and Democrat Rep. Salud Carbajal in the 24th Congressional District has been forced into virtual mode because the incumbent congressman is quarantining after testing positive for Covid-19.


KEYT News Director Jim Lemon said the debate is scheduled for this Saturday (Oct. 17), with Andy in Santa Barbara and Salud participating from Washington and will air live on the NOW channel (Cox Cable 13 or over-the-air 3.2). The event, which originally was to be produced at KEYT's TV Hill studio, will also be re-broadcast later.


Caldwell confirmed to us via email that he's in, and Carbajal will take part, "provided the Congressman continues to feel well," his spokesman told us.


(Newsmakers, beaming in from the Wildland-Urban Interface, will be on the journalist debate panel, so please email us your suggested questions: newsmakerswithjr@gmail.com)).


It's been a frustrating year for Andy, whose plans for an aggressive and spirited campaign were torpedoed by the pandemic and the shutdown. He's been trying to pin down Salud to debate him since January: the two originally were set to meet on KEYT last February, but when the station had to reschedule because of programming complications, sources tell us, Team Salud told them he was unavailable on any of the proposed make-up dates.


Cue steam spewing from Andy's ears.


All parties finally agreed on the Oct. 17 date, just two weeks before Election Day, but on Oct. 6 came word of Salud's positive Covid test (he blamed exposure from Republican Senator Mike Lee, who lives in the same building in D.C.), which forced another scramble.


Caldwell finally will get his chance to confront Carbajal, but t's likely the virtual debate won't have the same urgency as an up-close-and-personal, live TV cage match, as anyone who's tried to make a quick riposte, retort or rejoinder on Zoom in the last six months can attest.


Salud, whose campaign committee started the current cycle with nearly $750,000 cash on hand, has raised another $1.7 million, which is how much he now has in the bank, according to FEC filings. Andy has raised nearly $800,000, has spent $564,000 and has $231 K cash on hand, records show.



Soft opening. Although the political world currently is obsessed with the 2020 election, SB Mayor Cathy Murillo already has taken a step towards running for re-election in 2021, changing the name of her campaign Facebook page to "Cathy Murillo for Mayor 2021."


It features a photo of Her Honor standing in front of a "Vote" sign but the content on top so far is still about her failed campaign for the Assembly earlier this year, from when the page was titled "Cathy Murillo for State Assembly 2020," which it was until Oct. 5.


Despite the paucity of leadership she's shown in the pandemic and economic collapse, Mayor Cathy at this point must be considered the front-runner in next year's race, owing to the most fundamental rule in politics: You can't beat somebody with nobody.


Former Mayor Hal Conklin was widely believed to be preparing for another run, but his recent health problems have put that possibility on hold, and no one else has yet come forward. Let us pray.



Funny money. More campaign finance filings in the SB school board race were posted on the county elections website last week: while Laura Capps, with $34,000 raised, remained in first place in the money chase, fellow (sister? ) incumbents Jackie Reid, with $23K raised, (boosted by $10,100 from her mom); and Wendy Sims-Moten, $19K in contributions (including cash from Dem officeholders Monique Limon, Gregg Hart, Eric Friedman and Kate Parker, among others, and $500 each from Sara Miller McCune and ex-supe Susan Rose); along with challenger Virginia Alvarez, at $14K ($2,500 each from investor Robert Fell and management consultant John Michael Lind) also clearly have been putting in their call time.


The biggest head scratcher in the reports is Impact Education, the recently emerged campaign committee that's paid for mailers and yard signs promoting Elrawd MacLearn and Brian Campbell as a two-man slate.


The Impact Education committee filing on the county elections website does not list any contributions or expenditures, including a $5,300 donation that MacLearn reported on his own report.


Two of the names listed as executives of the committee are Sacramento consultants, who provide accounting and campaign finance services as their business. The third, and only local, name is Dan Ferrick, co-founder and CEO of Kiva Cowork, formerly known as Impact Hub. We couldn't reach him Sunday but will update when we do.


When we asked Elrawd who was behind the $5K he accepted from the group, he told us he is, um, "not sure" and referred us to the committee's website, Alas, there are no names of sponsors on the site, although it does show the group also is backing Cage Englander, Bruce Porter and Lou Segal in the county board of education race; Ron Liechti, Celeste Barber and Veronica Gallardo in the SBCC contest; and Greg Hammel in the Goleta Union School Board campaign.


Brian told us he was unaware there even was a mailer on his behalf paid for by Impact Education until Delaney Smith of the Indy showed it to him last week. When we emailed him to ask about it, and why he has not filed any campaign finance reports, he sent this response:

"With Covid my supporters, the families & community have been hit hard financially & emotionally. I am not asking for donations. As of today I have a campaign bank Acct with a zero balance. I took out my first online ad last week. I will report after speaking to the (Fair Political Practices Commission) Monday. Delaney made me aware of a mailer that I have not seen. I’m glad to see the people taking the charge on this campaign. True grass roots."


All righty then.


Grassroots campaigner. Challenger Monie de Wit also has not yet filed, but emailed us to say there have been some screw-ups with her bank, and she will submit her paperwork soon. Writes Monie:


"Also I am doing a grassroots campaign.. have been canvasing at Farmer's Markets for five weeks and other locations, like grocery stores at high traffic times. I am getting positive feedback, but naturally without the various endorsements I am a bit of an underdog.

I believe I still have the possibility of getting a good voter turnout.  I have worked as a photographer in our community since 1988 and also as a housecleaner for many years before that.  I believe I have roots here that may be hard for journalists to be aware of."


Definitely would not be the first time that happened.


Sign o' the times. Four years ago, the Montecito Journal was one of a small handful of newspapers in the U.S. that endorsed Donald Trump for President (our very special morning daily was another -- what're the chances?).


This time around, however, the Journal has just endorsed Democrat Joe Biden against Trump's re-election.


In 2016, of course, the paper still was a family-owned operation, owned by the Jim and Tim Buckley; last year, however, they sold to a group of local investors, led by writer and education activist Gwyn Lurie. While Tim Buckley remains in charge of business operations, Gwyn now is the editor-in-chief, who wrote the Biden endorsement.


Noting that the endorsement four years ago forecast Trump donning the "mantle of responsibility and probity" in the White House, Lurie wrote that the latter adjective was crucial in making the call this time for the Democratic challenger.


"Probity, being the quality of having strong moral principles such as honesty and decency, continues to be a good, important, and appropriate standard by which to measure the fitness and efficacy of a president or presidential candidate."


She concludes:


"Wouldn’t it feel nice if, once again, we had a president to whom, in difficult moments, we could look for comfort? Here the road leads us back to that quality this publication sought back in 2016, lost along the way, but we can once again find, if we make the right choice."


Right choice, indeed.



Supes vote selves raise. It's no surprise that Supervisor Das Williams, the Board's chief gaslighter, and his pot industry puppet pal, Supervisor Steve Lavignino, would be first at the trough to pocket a raise on the public dime, while ordinary citizens throughout the county are still enduring the painful economic and health fallout from the pandemic.


We were deeply disappointed, however, to see Supervisor Joan Hartmann provide the decisive third vote for the three percent raise, to about $103,000 a year. “I just want to say that this job is a very demanding one with a lot of responsibilities that are very diverse,” she said in explaining her vote.


Say it ain't so, Joan.


Supervisors Peter Adam and Gregg Hart voted against the raise and Gregg, who said later he's going to not accept it, clearly understands what a bad, bad look it is for a local politician to be taking a raise at a time when their constituents are suffering.


“At this moment in time with the COVID pandemic and the issues others are facing, I’m not comfortable with that personally,” he said.


Amen, brother.


Images: Caldwell and Carbajal (SB Independent); Cathy's campaign Facebook page; Campaign sign paid for by Impact Education; Monie de Wit; Gwyn Lurie; Joan Hartmann.







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