Run, James, Run: The "Coffee with a Black Guy" Guy Gets Importuned Over '21 Mayoral Run
(Full disclosure: Newsmakers is so overwrought and bedeviled by anxiety from obsessing over next Tuesday's presidential election that we decided to distract ourselves by thinking about the next big event on the political calendar. So sue us).
Rumor of the week. James Joyce III has heard all the current buzz about him running for mayor of Santa Barbara, but right now he's got a rather painful practical problem hobbling the notion.
"I can't think about running when I can't walk," Joyce, the District Director for state Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, said in a cell phone interview on Thursday.
The charismatic founder of the innovative Coffee with a Black Guy anti-racism movement, Joyce at the moment is laid up, recovering from major surgery on his left leg, necessitated after he tore a quadriceps muscle while on a socially-distanced run with friends.
Now facing a four-to-eight month rehab, and immediately focused on the Nov. 3 election, Joyce reluctantly acknowledged to Newsmakers that he is "unofficially, kind of thinking about it," when asked directly if he plans to be a candidate for mayor in 2021.
Joyce's first public comments about a potential run come as he is being beseeched and besieged by fans, power brokers and voters, urging him to run as a challenger to Mayor Cathy Murillo, who is seeking a second term.
"People have been calling," Joyce said, "I'll be considering it over the next couple months."
Joyce has received widespread praise, both for his effectiveness and credibility as a key aide to the termed-out Jackson during her successful legislative run, and for his judicious skill in leading difficult community conversations about race and racism through his entrepreneurial leadership of Coffee with a Black Guy.
"James is an incredibly thoughtful, smart and fair-minded person who seems to really have his hand on the pulse of what matters to a lot of people," said Gwyn Lurie, editor-in-chief of the Montecito Journal and a close friend of Joyce
As a political matter, James potentially looks like a formidable contender, at least on paper:
He is knowledgeable about the levers of power in state and local government, with a proven ability to convene stakeholders and build coalitions. For Jackson, he's worked on complex legislation while performing day-to-day constituent service and stepping up to address real-life needs and demands of residents during natural disasters and the pandemic.
His talent for initiating, facilitating and steering conversations, conflicts and discussion to positive conclusions during the series of CWABG events he has led revealed an open and honest capacity for truth-telling, listening and hearing disparate voices and interests in a diverse town.
That said, there's many a slip between the cup and the lip.
For starters, the 40-year old Joyce has never run for public office and he is the first to admit that, having long preferred to be the behind-the-scenes guy, stepping into the high-profile role of a candidate would represent a big change.
There's also the matter of the incumbent, who's already begun campaigning for a second term, determined to defend her record and disprove negative media narratives about her - as well as other possible contenders emerging.
"I'm confident that whatever James decides to do in this next chapter of his career will involve bringing people together and contributing to bringing about positive change," Lurie said. "Santa Barbara's lucky to have him in any capacity."
Bottom line: Only 369 days until the 2021 election. Don't forget to vote!
A must-see. Sarah Cooper has become a national hero to the Resistance for her hilarious TikTok ventriloquism of Donald Trump's serial moronic utterances, while scoring a new Netflix special in the process.
A centerpiece of the show is a re-enactment of Trump's infamous "grab 'em by the p----" Access Hollywood tape, performed with the fabulous Helen Mirren playing the part of the dolt Billy Bush.
Newsmakers says check it out, via YouTube below or by clicking through on this link.