More than 250 people packed the First United Methodist Church up to the nosebleed seats on Monday night, as the five candidates for mayor of Santa Barbara declaimed and discoursed on urgent city issues, from affordable housing, bike lanes and City Hall pensions, to undocumented immigrants, vacation rentals and water conservation.
Josh Molina has a solid, blow-by-blow, deadline story posted over at Noozhawk and Newsmakers will post our complete “Winners and Losers” special on the League of Women Voters later Tuesday.
As a political matter, however, the buzziest moment of the event was clear.
Nearly at the end of the two-hour affair, rookie politician and seasoned senior business executive Angel Martinez delivered closing remarks that provided his strongest and clearest statement to date of the rationale for his candidacy, framing the election as a fundamental choice between an outsider running against four City Hall insiders – change versus the status quo.
It is impossible to know what portion of the Nov. 7 electorate will agree with Angel's scorching and stinging critique of current conditions in the city.
If a large portion of them believe, like him, that Santa Barbara is on the wrong track, Martinez now has provided a passionate and plain-spoken reason for embracing his candidacy; voters who feel the city is on the right track, however, most likely will favor of one of the three current and one ex-city council members who are running against him.
In its nearly defiant tone, his closing statement set down a prominent marker in the campaign, five weeks before the Nov. 7 election:
“If you are happy with everything that is happening in Santa Barbara, you feel that our future is golden; you feel that our $300 million dollars of unfunded pension liability and that $400 million of unfunded infrastructure is perfectly fine; if you like what State Street looks like; if you like the fact that young people can’t find a job here, they can’t buy a condo, a house here, they can’t afford to live here; if you are happy with all that, if you are happy that the median salary of a city employee is $117,000 a year, then please, don’t vote for me.
If you want change, if you want a future that is collaborative in nature, where vision is what drives, where we take the best of this community and put it to work for the future of this community, that’s the vote I want from you.”
Gadzooks. More to come later.
Image: Angel Martinez delivers his closing statement at League of Women Voters forum as rivals (l-r) Hal Conklin, Frank Hotchkiss, Cathy Murillo and Bendy White look on.