SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With an election in Santa Barbara just around the corner, we asked Santa Barbara's mayoral candidates to answer a few questions important to our community -- from affordable housing to local economy, and revitalizing the downtown area.
Here are Mr. Frank Hotchkiss' responses.
1) What is going well with Santa Barbara’s current City Council? What policies/programs do you support under outgoing Mayor Helene Schneider?
Despite political differences, the council works congenially together. The mayor runs a good meeting and keeps things moving. I do not agree with council’s recent decisions regarding energy sources and distant political controversies such as the vote to support Keystone Pipeline protestors.
2) What is not going well under the current city council and mayor? What do you want to change?
First I would reverse the recent vote to invest taxpayer money according to political preferences. Fiscal decisions should be based on maximizing taxpayer returns.
3) What should the City do in the areas of jobs/economic development to ensure people can live here and be able to afford the cost of living?
Because of its unique setting and amenities, Santa Barbara will always be an exclusive – and expensive – place to live. As mayor, I would market the city to potential retailers and tourists as I have done successfully in the past with visiting cruise ships.
4) What do you think needs to be done downtown for economic development?
I plan to work with private sector brokers and agencies to attract 3-4 anchor retailers on the order of Nike, around which our local retailers can gather to benefit from increased foot traffic and popularity. This is a task that should have been undertaken by our Chamber of Commerce, but never was. Acknowledging that shortcoming, the next mayor may have to assume the role of chief marketer for our city, a role I will gladly undertake.
5) Should tourism remain a key pillar to Santa Barbara’s economic health? Why or why not?
Absolutely, and for obvious reasons. We benefit greatly from tourist visits, and we are a wonderful tourist destination. Everywhere in the U. S., and perhaps the world, when you tell people you are from Santa Barbara, they nod appreciatively. We have a brand unequaled by any other small city in America.
6) What do you think needs to be done downtown to address social issues such as aggressive panhandling?
Increased police presence will be helpful, as well as positive activities such as the Farmers’ Market, Pianos on State Street and other events.
7) What should the City do differently to attract/develop housing that is affordable for middle-class residents?
The city has done enough to support housing. It cannot – and should not – spend time and taxpayer money to overcome the obvious – that it will always cost more to live here because of the wonderful setting and amenities the city offers.
8) The City’s current water supply comes from the newly re-opened desalination plant and from a 100+-year-old delivery system from Lake Cachuma. What should Santa Barbara do to ensure a safe and sufficient water supply in the future?
Hold the present course, continue water conservation, and appreciate our existing water team which is doing an exceptional job at controlling our water requirements.
9) A 1% sales tax is on the ballot to improve infrastructure in the City. Do you support it? If so, what should the money be spent on? If opposed, how should the City deal with aging infrastructure?
I am the sole candidate who does not support Measure C, the increased sales tax that would bring $22,000,000 annually to city coffers. It’s too much money to put in politicians’ hands without control of how it would be spent – and by law there is no such control. It also has no end date, or sunset, meaning it is a tax from here to eternity.
10) Does Santa Barbara need to construct a new main police station? Why or why not?
Eventually, the police station should be replaced, but it doesn't have to happen tomorrow. And with rapidly changing enforcement technology, in one sense the longer we delay the better the new station will be as it benefits from the newest technology.
11) The City of Santa Barbara has a council-manager structure. The mayor is one vote out of seven to approve any new policies. How do you plan to provide leadership and direction with only one vote?
Through listening to my colleagues and then persuading them to a view that hopefully all can agree on.
Watch the entire KEYT NewsChannel 3 Santa Barbara Mayoral Forum below.