By Raiza Giorgi

The forms have officially been filed for the many positions available in city, school board and special district elections this November. 

There are several hotly contested positions in local races from the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Board as the two incumbents, Eileen Preston and Chris Burtness, have decided not to file. The issues facing the high school aside from distance learning is budgetary decisions as well as having a diverse representation on the board. 

The candidates for the high school board are Janine Robitaille-Filippin, a fitness instructor; Stephen Luke, a parent and local business owner; Jose Ibarra, a school administrator and educator; Peter Wright, an SYHS alumnus and college professor; Calisse Courtney, an SYHS alumna and an attorney; and Lucy Padilla, an SYHS alumna and escrow officer and parent. 

For other local elementary school boards, at Ballard School District there is incumbent Tracey Cassidy, who filed, and challenger Thomas Endy.

At Buellton Union School District, there are two positions open with Elysia Lewis and Andrew Morgan as incumbents and Allison Schwartz and Sandra Jordan as challengers. 

At College School District, there are two positions with incumbent Kathleen Jackson running and one position that will have to be appointed with incumbent Salvador Avila not filing. 

Los Olivos School District has five positions open with incumbents Leanna Drammer, Robert Walmsley, Ness Hamoui and Mark Herthel running; incumbent Keith Saarloos’ position will be appointed. 

Solvang School District has four positions open with incumbents Bradley Hollister running with no challenger and incumbent John Winckler running against two challengers, Andreas Pyper and Jennifer McClurg. 

Three valley residents have filed for Santa Barbara County Board of Education, including former Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson and local parent Michelle de Werd running in District 4 against incumbent Roberta Heter, and former 3rd District Supervisor candidate and SYHS Board Member Bruce Porter running in District 3 against incumbent Richard Fulton. 

Special Districts

For the several special districts in Los Alamos, there are three positions, with all three incumbents James Solis, Leonard Bileti and Antonius Barr running against retired Solvang City Manager Brad Vidro. 

For the newly created Los Olivos Community Services District, there are two positions open with incumbent Thomas Fayram running and incumbent Julie Kennedy’s position to be appointed. 

For Santa Ynez Ynez Community Services District, there are three positions open with two incumbents, Karen Jones and Frank Redfern, filing. The third vacancy will be appointed. 

For Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District Division 3, the incumbent Mark Altshuler is running uncontested and Division 1 will be appointed. For the SYRVD Improvement District No. 1, Division 3 incumbent Lori Parker and Division 4 incumbent Michael Burchardi are running uncontested. 

City Council

Both Buellton and Solvang city councils have positions open, including the elected mayoral seat. For local city races, there are two Solvang council seats up, with incumbents Daniel Johnson and Karen Waite not seeking re-election. 

The Solvang mayoral seat is open, as incumbent Ryan Toussaint did not file for re-election. So far, Waite and Charles Uhrig have thrown in their names for that position. Uhrig is a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office deputy who held the role of community resource deputy until the his position was axed for “cost saving measures” back in February. 

For the two available four-year council seats, so far U.S. Marine Corp veteran Chris Bowyer, former Solvang BAR and Planning Commissioner Mark Infanti, and Solvang Trolley owner Claudia Orona have put in their names. Current Planning Commissioner Justin Rodriguez is also listed pending county verification, according to Solvang City Manager Xenia Bradford. 

Voters will also consider a recall of Councilman Chris Djernaes, who still has two years left on his term. Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas has filed to fill that position if the recall is successful. 

The Buellton mayoral position is available, with incumbent Holly Sierra running against Councilman Ed Andrisek and Isaac Oltmans. Also up are the council seats held by incumbents John Sanchez and Art Mercado, who are running against Elysia Lewis and Joseph Carter. 

For more information on local election voting visit