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Santa Barbara voters receive election ballots this week for Mayor and council seats

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara City Council election set for November 2, will begin this week with the vote by mail ballots arriving citywide.

Voters will decide on the mayor's position and while three city council seats are up in this election, one is uncontested.

Mayor Cathy Murillo has five challengers. They include Randy Rowse, Deborah Schwartz, Mark Whitehurst, James Joyce and Matt Kilrain (who calls himself Boat Rat Matt.)

In the 2017 mayoral election, about 51 percent of the voters cast ballots, or about 25,000.

In recent elections when just council seats were on the ballot and not the mayors race, the turnout was under 7000. Those races were not citywide.

In the District 4 seat Kristin Sneddon is challenged by Barrett Reed.

In the District 5 seat Eric Friedman is running unopposed.

In the District 6 seat Meagan Harman is challenged by Nina Johnson, Zachary Pike and Jason Carlton.

There have been several discussions and debates already for this election and more are set. Many are recorded and available for voters to watch on playback on their own schedule.

Voter Sharen O'Riorden said, "I got my sample ballot .... this morning in the P.O box."

For some voters, they are still doing their research, before marking their ballot, and they want to be up to speed..      

"I try to be. I think it is very important.   I did pick up the Montecito Journal a day or two ago. (which has a cover story.)   I will take a look and see what they have to say," said Riorden.

There's a heavy load of material in the media and in the mail boxes from the candidates and more is coming now that the ballots are out.

There are big issues with housing costs, homelessness,  homeless fires, concerns about the look of the promenade going forward, the economy overall and the rebound from local emergencies.

O'Riorden said, "not only through Covid but we were through a disaster that was crippling to one part of the district." She referenced the 2018 mudflow aftermath.

Some voters are turning their ballots around right away.
Tom Rhodes said, " yea we're ready." He hoped to be done in a few days. "Yea, this week."

Catherine Federman said she does wait either. "No I don't actually.  For the governor I immediately brought it over."

Richard Brown is voting in a few weeks. "I am going to think about it and probably wait until pretty close to election day.  There are some things about the candidates and I am not sure."   

The election is being handled by the Santa Barbara County Elections office.

 In addition to the County Elections Drop Box, there are drop boxes at the following locations:

Eastside Library

Santa Barbara County Administration Building

Santa Barbara City College West Campus

San Andres Hardware

MacKenzie Park

A new box is at Santa Barbara City Hall at 735 Anapaca Street.

Voters who have questions about their ballot or registration status can contact the County Elections Office at 805-568-2200 or 1-800-SBC-VOTE or at   Eligible citizens can register to vote online at through October 18, 2021.  Voters that have moved or had a name change should re-register. 

All registered voters will receive a ballot for mayor. Those living in Districts 4,5,6 will see their candidates listed for those races. Residents in other areas will not.

There are 55,479 registered voters in the city. In District 4 there are 12,006. In District 5 there are 10, 583 In District 6 there are 8862.

Voter Information Guides which were mailed on Friday, October 1, 2021. Ballots were mailed, Monday, October 4.  If a voter hasn’t received their ballot by the end of this week, they should contact 800-SBC-VOTE or 805-568-2200.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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