Local Politics

Without an election two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers retain their seats

Harmon and Gutierrez were not challenged

Two members of the Santa Barbara City Council, Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez have retained their seats without an election because they ran with no competition.  The council saves $106,000 by making the appointment. (John Palminteri /KEYT.com)

SANTA BARARA, Calif. - Two members of the Santa Barbara City Council will hold their seats without an election.

The council decided to appoint Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez, who both were up for a vote in November. The filing deadline has passed and no competition has come forward in their districts.

In two other districts, the races have a competition. City Clerk Sarah Gorman says this will save the city $106,000.

The deadline to turn in papers and that included signatures of support was August 9.

The city has an option in the charter to make an appointment similar to the procedure if they are filling a vacant seat.

This situation is unique, by having two seats open and without candidates other than those already seated. The district election process is in place in Santa Barbara, in part, to encourage more people to run for office.

"The process worked, the opportunity was there. Now would it have been better to have other members pull papers and make it a more democratic process, go out and get the signatures, raise money and do the process? Yes, that would have been better. It would have been better to have it on the ballot, but it didn't happen," said Councilmember Randy Rowse.

Looking at the process and the participation options, Councilmember Eric Friedman said "any other person could have done that and no one else chose to."

The appointment decision means, in at least two of the four seats open in the upcoming election, two positions will not see a change.

Harmon is in District 6 serving downtown. Her term will be two years, since she is filling out the position previously held by Gregg Hart who moved up to a county seat.

Gutierrez is in District 3 on the Westside.

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