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Nina Johnson

Santa Barbara City Council District 6 Candidate Nina Johnson
Santa Barbara City Council District 6 Candidate Nina Johnson
Candidate Name
 Nina Johnson
Position Sought
 Santa Barbara City Council - District 6
 Vote Nina
Other Social Media
 Instagram: @NinaJohnsonSB
Twitter: @NinaJohnsonSB
Why are you running for office?:
 I’m running for City Council to bring hands-on experience and leadership to the City, while protecting Santa Barbara's character and quality of life. After many years as a top-ranking City official, I have knowledge of all services and operations and understand what is needed to make improvements in a thoughtful manner.

My goal is to change the culture of the City to build a more inclusive, collaborative culture of listening to all voices to serve the community's needs. I'm ready to bring fresh ideas and innovative approaches to the challenges we face.
What makes you qualified for the job?:
 I am uniquely qualified and trained to serve on the City Council and make decisions on policy matters with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from UCLA and Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Drake University. I have 25 years of experience directing strategic initiatives for the city of Santa Barbara. I’m a creative problem-solver who turns ideas into action. My passion is engaging the public, leading innovation, and collaborating with diverse groups to achieve a community vision.

I am a strong advocate for local businesses and entrepreneurs, active in forming public-private partnerships to enhance economic vitality and planning demonstration projects to gain acceptance for new ideas.

I played an instrumental role in closing State Street to vehicles and opening to pedestrians and cyclists at the start of the pandemic. Two years prior, I envisioned and planned an Experiment Weekend to test a pedestrian promenade, outdoor dining, and art on State Street, surveying attendees to gauge support for a permanent closure of State Street. I also closed the State Street underpass in 2019 to create a music and art event to demonstrate how the underutilized concrete space could serve as an occasional music pavilion and art experience.

Past achievements include driving sustainability programs and policies, coordinating state and federal legislative advocacy, implementing outdoor smoking laws, and building management systems for the organization. I directed a public outreach campaign on citywide infrastructure needs in 2014-2015, resulting in the successful passage of a 1-cent general sales tax to repair roads and essential facilities.

I’m active in numerous non-profit organizations. I am the recipient of multiple awards including: the National Association of Women Business Owners in Santa Barbara Public Policy Leader of the Year Award, Citizens Planning Association Distinguished Service Award, Santa Barbara Beautiful Golden Leaf Award, and Santa Barbara Independent Local Hero.

I am a current Board Member for the MIT Enterprise Forum (now Emerging Ventures and Technology Forum) improving connections between the science and technology entrepreneurs and the Santa Barbara community. I was a Board Member of Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter (Now PATH) from 2003-2007 and played an instrumental role to locate the site and get approvals to originally open as a homeless shelter and day center.

I’m known for a collaborative management style and truly enjoy engaging the public to develop creative solutions. I am frequently sought out as a resource to inform and advance community objectives.
What are your two main priorities if you win?:
 My first priority is restoring economic vibrancy Downtown through:
- innovative urban design of the pedestrian promenade,
- a wide range of housing options for affordable and moderate incomes,
- a safe, welcoming environment to shop and dine,
- streamlined permitting to encourage business startup and investment, and
- public art that inspires and connects us.

I led the demonstration of a promenade pre-pandemic to advance the community dialogue on whether to have vehicles on State Street, providing a framework to create the current promenade. I’ll collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure the next iteration of State Street will adapt vacant space to housing and other creative uses, while protecting our historic character and unique charm.

Another key priority is addressing homelessness with compassion and helping unhoused individuals transition off the street. This is a longstanding issue that requires more creative approaches, better coordination among social service providers, and accessing state/federal funding. We need mental health outreach workers and enforcement of a Sit/Lie ordinance to ensure the downtown and commercial corridors are safe and inviting for dining and shopping.
How will you interact with other governments?:
 The City Council works with neighboring cities and the County to address regional issues such as homelessness, youth safety, water and environmental protection. I look forward to working with government agencies in leveraging our combined resources to move forward with innovative solutions.
What are your plans to help overcome COVID-19?:
 I support continued education in the community to get vaccinated and lower our vulnerability to COVID-19, and protect one another. I also support the use of testing methods that are quick and accurate to help us prevent the spread of infection and reduce the impact on businesses and the community.
Which two issues are most important to you?:
 Affordable Housing: Create partnerships and incentives to foster a range of affordable housing options to address the high cost of housing.

Public Art: Initiate art and beautification elements in neighborhoods and business corridors to foster neighborhood pride and community building and support opportunities for our creative community.
Article Topic Follows: SB City Council

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