By Brooke Holland
Noozhawk Staff Writer
Registered voters will decide on a new representative for the state’s 19th Senate District in the primary election March 3.
The district covers all of Santa Barbara County and a portion of Ventura County. It’s currently represented by Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, who cannot run again due to term limits.
A field of three candidates appears on the primary election ballot: California Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara; Santa Maria resident Gary Michaels, a Republican and telecommunications consultant; and Santa Barbara resident Anastasia Stone, a maternal health professional with “no party preference.”
The top two vote-getters in the March 3 primary move onto the general election in November.
Limón is a second-term assemblywoman representing the 37th State Assembly District, which covers the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County’s South Coast and most of Ventura County.
She currently chairs the California Assembly Banking and Finance Committee and chairs the Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector. Limón’s colleagues elected her to serve as vice chairwoman of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.
“For me, the reason that I decided to run for this seat is because I believe I can be the most effective and put my experience to use in the state Senate,” Limón said.
“It’s a fairly large district, and given my experiences, it best positions me to be the most effective on behalf of the constituents in the 19th Senate District.”
Limón served six years as a Santa Barbara Unified School District school board member before being elected to the Assembly.
For more than 14 years, Limón served as an educator, including assistant director of UC Santa Barbara’s McNair Scholars Program.
The UC Berkeley and Columbia University graduate was the student program adviser for the California Student Opportunity and Access Program at Santa Barbara City College, director of diversity recruitment and retention with UCSB’s Graduate Division, and a member of other university groups and nonprofit organizations.
Limón was raised in Santa Barbara County and resides in Goleta.
She supports increasing educational opportunities, boosting the local economy through job creation, expanding quality health care, dedicating resources to disaster recovery, and environmental and coastline protections.
“Some of what has come out of this year is political courage,” she told Noozhawk. “I understand that there are big votes, and I take them with the interest of my district in mind.
“Even if they are difficult votes,” she continued. “Even if it means sticking my neck out, I try to work with groups and people in the district to come to a solution … I take my time in terms of thinking about how I do things and I make sure I have different voices included.”
Limón added, “I have a number of bills that have been signed by the governor, and all but one of them had bipartisan support.”
Michaels, a Santa Maria resident, serves on the Santa Maria-Bonita School District Measure T construction bond oversight committee and his homeowner association board.
“Because I have been in the private sector, I understand what is involved, what work is, and with work, people are providing a service and paid on the completion of the quality of it,” Michaels said, later adding, “I’m more than able to identify and empathize with circumstances because I’m in the similar situation.”
His positions include adopting policies for higher wages; affordable housing for first-time homebuyers; attracting energy and environmental technology startups; and incentive plans for technology companies to locate in cities like Santa Barbara.
“For the 15 years that I have been in this area, I have been watching the Democratic Party in Santa Barbara doing the bidding of the party, and fulfilling their decades-long personal agenda items,” said Michaels, a Republican. “I feel this is unfortunately at the expense of the voters in my community.
“There are hundreds of forgotten cities and communities like Santa Maria throughout the state,” he continued. “I wish to help these cities and communities obtain an improved quality of life, affordability, and safety and prosperity.”
Other priorities listed on Michaels’ campaign website include support for law enforcement personnel; helping homeless residents; assisting low-performing schools; and “making California’s forgotten cities and communities more attractive to job investment.”
“Some of my thinking is consistent with the Republican platform in this state and nationally,” Michaels said. “I would begin with the support for the American family and prioritize the families — the foundation of our democracy.”
Michaels has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from New England College and an academic certificate in accounting from UCLA, according to his website.
Stone said some of her top priorities as a state senator would be health care, education, resources for foster care and adoption, and maternal health, a field she has worked in for 10 years.
“When we focus on those things,” Stone said, “they prevent a lot of other problems from happening.”
The Santa Barbara resident teaches doula services and effective advocacy at Go Midwife, and previously worked as a midwife’s assistant. She has also worked as a preschool teacher and served on the board at St. Andrew’s Preschool of Santa Barbara.
“Because I’ve been on the ground level,” Stone said, “I see how things play out in real life, and it gives me a unique perspective coming into the legislature — it’s not just a law — how is it going to look when implemented in real life?”
Stone said she won’t take money for her campaign from special interest groups or large corporations.
Stone served as a chapter leader and regional coordinator for the International Caesarean Awareness Network, a nonprofit working to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable caesarean through education, supporting caesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after caesarean.
Stone is a former foster parent and she worked with Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties on creating cultural change in foster care and adoption. She worked on recruitment and family home retention, and resources for children in the foster care system.
“In foster care and adoption, and in maternal health, I’m working with big bureaucratic systems,” Stone said. “A lot of times, there is a divide between people and they are coming from different places and with different experiences — and my position in both maternal health and in foster care and adoption dealt with building bridges, and connecting people and helping heal the divide that can happen.”
Stone spent her collegiate career at Long Beach State in the fields of early childhood education and family studies, according to her campaign website.