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Candidates partake in local debate for 37th District State Assembly seat

10p PKG State Assembly Debate PKG.00_01_47_09.Still001
Blake DeVine/KEYT
A public debate took place this evening at the University Club in Santa Barbara between candidates for the 37th Assembly District.

SANTA BARBARA Calif - A public debate took place Wednesday evening at the University Club in Santa Barbara between candidates for the 37th State Assembly district seat.

The post is currently held by Monique Limon who is campaigning for the 19th District State Senate seat currently held by Hannah-Beth Jackson who has reached her term limit.

Although ballots have already been mailed to voters, this particular race is still wide open. 

Six of the seven candidates were at the debate to respond to a variety of questions.

This included Jonathan Abboud, Stephen Blum, Steve Bennett, Charles Cole, Jason Dominguez and Elsa Granados.

Santa Barbara mayor Cathy Murillo — the seventh candidate — was unable to attend the debate. 

Those in attendance hoped to get a better feel of the candidates through the debate. 

“I want them to have a strong position that tells us what they’re going to do,” Hope Ranch resident Barbara Gaughen-Muller said. “Not what they hope to do but what they can achieve.”

“Getting a sense for their personality, composure, how they are in a debate or high stress situation,” Santa Barbara resident Kate Cortenbach said.

Hot button issues included housing, homelessness, jobs and environmental concerns regarding climate change.

“I like to be specific about what we need to do,” State Assembly candidate Jonathan Abboud said.  “Some people may agree or disagree in what I’m talking about but at least they can hold me accountable to getting things done.”

The district covers parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara County (north up to Lompoc.)   It includes Santa Paula, Fillmore, Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Solvang and portions of the Los Padres National Forest within its boundaries.

Whomever is selected as the future Assembly member will play a critical role in Santa Barbara’s future.

“They’re our voice,” Cortenbach concluded. “It’s important that how we feel about things is being communicated to the entire state.”

If one candidate receives 50.1% or more of the vote in the March 3rd primary election, they’ll win outright. 

Otherwise the top two candidates will be placed in a runoff for the general election on November 3rd.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist at KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX My Fox 11