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. 

School Boards

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, a SYHS alumni and college professor; Calisse Courtney, a SYHS alumni and an attorney and Lucy Padilla, a SYHS alumni 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 challengers are Allison Schwartz and Sandra Jordan. 

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 will 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; division 1 will be appointed, and for division 3 incumbent Lori Parker is running uncontested and division 4 incumbent Michael Burchardi is also 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 from Daniel Johnson and Karen Waite. 

The Solvang mayoral seat, currently held by Ryan Toussaint, is also up. Toussaint did not file so the deadline was extended until Wednesday. So far Charles Uhrig and current Councilwoman Karen Waite have thrown in their names. 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 other four-year terms, 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 be considering recalling 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 also available and incumbent Holly Sierra is running against Councilman Ed Andrisek and Isaac Oltmans as well as two council seats held by incumbents John Sanchez and Art Mercado who are running against Elysia Lewis and Joseph Carter.  The candidate filing period ends Wednesday for seats held by eligible incumbents who did not file. 

Santa Barbara County debuted a new online candidate filing application and portal to accommodate limited contact because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The special district and school district candidates can also apply to file online, and be issued their filing forms electronically from home, according to the Elections Office.

For more information on voting visit