Schneider, Williams, Barnwell Victorious

While the demographics of Santa Barbara may be polarizing into wealthy retirees and the low-wage people who serve them, the Santa Barbara City Council got a strong dose of Generation X with Tuesday night’s election of Helene Schneider, 32, and Das Williams, 29. Joining them on the council in January will be the more seasoned Brian Barnwell.

“You need a new generation every once in a while,” said Mayor Marty Blum, who endorsed Schneider and Barnwell, along with incumbent Babatunde Folayemi, who came in fourth place in the race for three seats, trailing third-place Barnwell by 857 votes in the semi-official results.

The top vote getter with 7,452, Schneider was considered the favorite with endorsements from political insiders, the police and firefighter unions, liberal groups and environmentalists. “This has really been a very positive campaign,” said Schneider, who praised the diversity of the new council and emphasized wanting to dialogue with residents as “the city is poised to set a vision for the next 10-15 years.”

Top fundraiser Williams came in second with 7,056 votes. “I am pleasantly, happily surprised,” said Williams, who had been criticized by some for his youth and idealistic vision. Unlike the other winners, Williams did not receive the police and firefighter unions’ support, previously thought to be a key to victory.

“We were impacted a bit on how we could carry our message,” said Pat MacElroy of the Santa Barbara City Firefighters for Better Government. Usually every person’s out in the precinct campaigning, so it was a lot more difficult to do last week. “We’ve had some significant staffing cutbacks, so we just don’t have as many people as we did the past couple of years. And also we have been covering for the fires, so we’ve had some people down south. … We feel like our message still got out there,” said MacElroy of the union’s PAC, which supported Schneider, Barnwell and Michael Magne, who came in sixth place in the race behind Scott Burns.

Mayor Blum said she hopes to recruit some of the election’s losers to serve on city boards and commissions. “I lost my first election,” she said. “I would hope that they would consider trying again.”

Folayemi vowed to continue to fight the good fight on behalf of the youth and under-represented in the community. “This is not the first time I’ve lost a battle,” he said at his not-quite-a-victory-party at Pascucci. “But I don’t ever lose wars.”

Unlike the other top candidates who came to Election Central to view the results, Barnwell entertained supporters all evening at the Paradise Cafe. “I knew that whatever the results would be, my being there wouldn’t influence them,” he said. “Plus, I didn’t want to leave the people who have supported me.” Even when his victory was clear, Barnwell was sociably introducing himself to patrons at the bar and encouraging them to call him at his office with their concerns.

Originally published in the South Coast Beacon on November 6, 2003.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on November 6, 2003.

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