Santa Barbara Supervisor to Present at California State Assembly


After months of turmoil and speculation among handicappers and political prognosticators, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart has finally announced he will run for the State Assembly in June and not for another tenure as county supervisor. He has yet to officially confirm this information.

Hart – a longtime Democrat, more pragmatic than ideological – would have been a shoo-in if he ran for the county supervisor again. But given the new district boundaries for the state assembly seat – which for the first time encompasses all of Santa Barbara County with just a nail chip jutting out into San Luis Obispo County – his victory appears to be inevitable. To date, two candidates have already announced for the new assembly seat – Jonathan Abboud, who represents Isla Vista on the City College board of directors, and Gabe Escobedo, a planning commissioner for the city of Santa Barbara.

Hart began his political career as a member of the political staff of Jack O’Connell, former member of the State Assembly, former State Senator and former head of education throughout the State. Hart served numerous terms on Santa Barbara City Council, was appointed to the California Coast Commission, politically distanced himself from his political base and vice versa, and returned and held a senior technocratic position with the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, where he played a key role behind the scenes in pushing for the widening of the freeway.

In recent years, Hart has seen a political awakening, running again for city council – almost unopposed – and providing an increasingly scarce sense of ballast among an increasingly fragmented city council. While he never became an ideologue, Hart, the former centrist, took a much more gradual inclination. Since his candidacy for the post of County Supervisor of the 2nd District, he has championed criminal justice reform and a more holistic approach to homeless people.

Equipped with millions of one-time federal emergency dollars, Hart put his considerable skills and ready smile to use. Throughout the first year of the COVID pandemic, he served as chairman of the board and used his position to host weekly media events in which public health officials answered questions and made the update on the state of the state with respect to the county’s response to COVID. . As such, Hart played the role of leader without doing the show on him. He was relentlessly optimistic in his performance and unwavering in his emphasis on education as opposed to law enforcement.

Hart has long had aspirations and ambitions for a statewide office. More than once in the past she has been told that it is not her turn to run. This time around, he was the putative favorite long before the district boundaries were drawn. Briefly, it turned out that he might not have a choice; for a moment, the boundaries of his governing constituency had been redrawn so that he would have had to move in with his mother if he wanted to run again. This card, however, did not prevail, and even with the new supervision cards, Hart would have had a good idea. If anything, District 2 has become even more secure as it now includes voters from Isla Vista and UCSB.

Hart’s decision – not yet officially announced – has sparked a tidal wave of informed speculation about the likely candidates for his supervisor job. Topping the list are Santa Barbara Unified School Board members Laura Capps and Wendy Sims-Moten. Luz Reyes-Martín, member of the Goleta school council and pillar of the Democratic Party, is also mentioned.

The irony of Hart’s decision is not lost on any of his colleagues, who began at the start of the first New Year’s Supervisors Meeting by bragging about how wonderful it was to have a board where all supervisors – regardless of party or ideological inclination – appreciated such collegial relationships. As several supervisors have since asked, maybe that messed up. Hart, in every way, functioned like the yeast that made bread rise, quietly, affably, intelligently, and insistently pushing his agenda. While Hart will serve year round, he will no doubt be distracted by the demands of the political campaign and position himself for his next incarnation in Sacramento.

In the meantime, that thud that you might soon hear is that of other shoes starting to fall off.


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