All the Letters to the Editor submitted to the Santa Ynez Valley Star after our latest issue deadline. 


Dear Editor,

So who exactly is Bruce Porter, and what does he really stand for?

Porter claims to be a proud independent – but campaign filings show that he received more than $20,000 from the Santa Barbara Republican Party.

His campaign websites – he has two, apparently so he can present different faces to different people — pretend to champion green energy and environmental stewardship, and promise to end commercial oil shipping.  But the local Republican Party relies heavily on contributions from oil and gas developers.  It’s not a stretch connect oil and gas interests on the one end and Bruce Porter on the other.

Porter’s trademark seems to be a loose relationship to the truth.  He first denied a connection with an Isla Vista Rock the Vote group, which was disavowed by the national RTV organization and then exposed for engaging in voter suppression . . . until his involvement was proven. Then he bragged about reducing the number of student voters. 

Porter created a “non-profit” organization, supposedly to help students transition to college life, using a third website. But despite claiming its mission as ‘work[ing] to help UCSB and SBCC students transition into college,” the website is nothing more than a travel guide of local tourist attractions. These are hardly the “resources” that new undergrads need as they transition to college life!

Porter’s campaign websites effectively plagiarize the positions that Joan Hartmann, our current County Supervisor, has been working on so successfully.  

Does he have anything real to offer?

Michael Nicola

Los Alamos, CA

In a recent Commentary Richard Nagler stated that Third District Supervisor, Joan Hartmann, had cost the Santa Ynez Valley school district millions of dollars in funding through two decisions she had made – one was an oblique reference to “the Santa Ynez Unit” and the other to the agreement made between the County and the Chumash Tribe regarding Camp 4.

Both assertions are patently false and so easily disproved as to suggest that Mr. Nagler was not  interested in educating voters, only in misleading them.

First, we must assume that his reference to “the Santa Ynez Unit” was regarding the denial of an emergency permit to Exxon Mobil to truck oil seventy times a day up and down the Gaviota Coast.  The truth is Supervisor Hartmann did not participate in making that decision as it occurred in 2015 before she was even elected to the Board of Supervisors. 

Second, Supervisor Hartmann was never legally in a position to negotiate with the Tribe for funding for the Santa Ynez school district.  She could only negotiate on behalf of the County.  The school district has their own duly elected Board to negotiate for the betterment of their district of which Mr. Bruce Porter has been a member.  If Mr. Nagler thought that the school district should get more money from the Tribe, why didn’t he ask Mr. Porter to do it?  Indeed, why didn’t Mr. Porter think to do it himself?  Was it because he was quite satisfied by the funds the Tribe had already gifted to the school?  Or was he too intimidated by the Tribe to ask for more funds for the students he purportedly represents?  We may never know the truth.  However, whether complicit or cowardly, the responsibility for negotiating with the Tribe on behalf of the school district fell squarely on Mr. Porter’s shoulders and not on Supervisor Hartmann’s.  In contrast, throughout her term in office Supervisor Hartmann has consistently been honest, transparent, courageous and successful in asking for more resources for all her constituents.  On March 3rd, vote to Re Elect Joan Hartmann. 

Doreen Farr,

Ojai, CA

Dear Editor,
Why I am voting for Joan Hartmann for reelection as Third District County Supervisor:
Joan helped fund the co-response team, which trains County Sheriffs as they respond to mental health calls, to de-escalate and result in better outcomes. She also helped to secure $6 million in funding for the Public Defender’s diversion programs which provide treatment to dual diagnosis patients to get them treatment instead of putting them in jail and then back out on the street, homeless and mentally ill.
Joan has worked to protect our community from wildfires by helping to secure $2.2 million in funding for the Fire Department for fuel reduction and a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. She serves on the Fire Safe Council, supporting the firefighters who put their lives on the line.
Joan is deeply committed to our natural environment and to increasing access for all to trails and public parks, working to expand both so that they are available to more Third District residents.  She worked with diverse stakeholders on the Gaviota Coast, calling a special meeting to hammer out differences and finalize the Gaviota Coastal Plan.
The Third District is huge and diverse. Joan is committed to serving all of it, and has done so with distinction. 
Peggy Brierton
Buellton, CA

Dear Editor,

I have been an environmental attorney for 30 years and in that time, few people have shown as much leadership in environmental protection as Joan Hartmann. I first worked with Joan when she helped fight oil development offshore Santa Barbara County.

I worked closely with Joan when she was on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Defense Center. Her background as an environmental attorney, who worked on wetlands preservation, as well as wildlife and habitat protection, were reflected in her keen understanding of the issues. Her collaborative approach to problem solving meant that she looked for best possible solutions to environmental challenges.

Joan was the driving force behind Measure A in Buellton, the initiative that ensures that the community decides whether or not development should push urban development into agricultural and open space. She has helped other communities to craft similar ordinances.

Joan helped the Gaviota community adopt a plan that protects agriculture, scenic views, and natural and cultural resources — something that took years! She pushed hard to expand parks and trails to ensure more community opportunities to get out into nature.

 Joan is a passionate advocate of clean energy and the green jobs that come with it. She led the County’s effort to join a community choice energy program that will let us buy energy from renewable sources.

 We are incredibly fortunate to have Joan on the Board of Supervisors. I urge all those who care about the environment to vote for her on March 3.


Linda Krop

Goleta, CA

Dear Editor – Santa Ynez Valley Star

I live on a horse ranch on Fredensborg Canyon Road.  Supervisor Joan Hartmann was instrumental in preventing a cannabis farm in our community from expanding to a large growing operation.

The grower was already growing medicinal marijuana for personal use.  He was proposing to build just under 15,000 square feet in greenhouses for marijuana cultivation, on a five acre parcel completely surrounded by homes and small ranches, in a neighborhood community outside the Solvang City limits.  It was not a suitable place for a large growing operation, as even the Solvang City Council stated and voted.  But, because it wasn’t immediately next to the Solvang urban boundary, it wasn’t automatically banned, and it might well have been approved.

We reached out to Joan Hartmann, who dove in to help.  She and her staff worked for six months with the community to revamp the ordinance to prevent that grow, and others like it.  She met with a room full of angry people, but stayed with us, working together through the Planning Commission and back to the Board of Supervisors.  Joan took a leadership role throughout; she was one woman in a room full of men, but speaking with a ‘‘soft loud voice’.  That’s Joan; she speaks from the heart, but follows through with knowledge, commitment, and expertise.

We had a gathering not long ago to celebrate the revamped ordinance and our neighborhood being saved … and we honored Joan Hartmann’s work for our community.


E. U. Dreyfuss

Solvang, CA

Dear Editor,

I’ve known Joan Hartmann for many years and the one thing that has always impressed me is how deeply committed she is to working with all sides on an issue. Whether she was volunteering as a citizen to help lead Buellton citizens to take hold of the decisions regarding the boundaries of their community, or promoting finding common ground as a member of the Planning Commission on contentious land-use issues, especially in the Santa Ynez Valley, Joan seeks to build coalitions of inclusiveness. She does not engage in finger pointing.

 Hers’ is a practical approach, not one of a demagogue, and the results speak for themselves. For example, her leadership as a member of the Board of Supervisors has resulted in remarkable forward-thinking with the development of the Strategic Energy Plan, a renewable energy initiative that will provide the citizens of Santa Barbara County with competitively-priced carbon-free electricity for generations to come and one of the first to do so in our state.

 You can talk to Joan and she listens. And she cares about what you say. It is as simple as that. What more can you wish for from an elected official? I am supporting Joan for re-election. I hope you do, too.

Mark Oliver

Solvang, CA

I wholeheartedly support Bruce Porter in the upcoming election for 3rd District Supervisor in Santa Barbara County.  I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, and after many years of living and working outside of the area, my husband and I chose to return to the county and make our home in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.  We have become active members of our wonderful community by volunteering for various nonprofit organizations.  I have worked in both the private and public sector, and was also a small business owner and employer, giving me a broad perspective on how our County Supervisors can best serve our 3rd District citizens.  

A group of Rancho Santa Ynez Estates residents here in Solvang, including myself, recently hosted Bruce Porter to meet and speak with us, as well as those in the adjoining Alisal Glen neighborhood along Fjord Drive.  We are a community that the county has been steamrolling over in their personal vision of what’s “best” for their agendas, and they have ignored our many voices about our concerns with how their proposals will negatively affect and forever change the nature of the quiet and safe neighborhood that has existed here for 50 years.

Bruce, however, reached out to us, took the time to hear our concerns, answer questions, have a genuine discussion, and share his vision for the 3rd District. We desperately need a change of county leadership, and Bruce has proven himself to be a deeply committed candidate who understands the challenges we face, as well as opportunities for the future, and has the determination and the experience to produce results.

Our Santa Ynez Valley community is home to people from all walks of life. We have chosen this place as home, and most people I know want to work to make and keep our community the best that it can be. I know that Bruce wants the same, and he will fight for us all.

Denise Rose

Solvang, CA

Dear Editor,

If you are looking for a reason to vote for Joan Hartmann as 3d District Supervisor, you need look no further than the County’s progress on clean energy since Joan joined the Board of Supervisors in 2017.

With Joan as a leading proponent, the County joined Monterey Bay Community Power, which will enable us to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity throughout the County.

Joan has been a strong advocate for the Strauss Wind Energy Project, which will double renewable electricity generation in the County, providing energy for 30% of the County’s households. Wind is a high performing clean energy producer. It generates more power per nameplate capacity than solar: while a solar plant produces about 25% of the time, wind produces 33%.

Joan has also pushed the County to develop a Strategic Energy Plan that will include energy resiliency and the streamlining and acceleration of renewable energy development. Thus, the Board approved the largest solar+storage+EV charging microgrid in the region at the Betteravia Government Center. It also adopted a responsible vehicle policy, setting the goal of an electric-vehicle-only purchasing policy for County light duty sedans, leading to around 50 new EVs in the fleet as well as charging stations for fleet and employee usage.

Our County must “go green” if we are to combat climate change and stimulate an economy based on the jobs of the future.  Joan Hartmann has been leading us down this road, and we need her to continue to do so.

Dave Davis,

Santa Barbara, CA

Dear Editor,

As the person who chaired Goleta’s Agriculture Protection Initiative effort, I know that Joan Hartmann understands and supports key values Goleta residents hold dear.  Even before Joan Hartmann became Supervisor, she was instrumental in helping us protect Goleta’s largest remaining agriculture parcels.

Joan spearheaded Buellton’s successful Urban Growth Boundary initiative.  This helped Buellton prevent urban sprawl and preserve its semi-rural character.

Thanks to Joan generously sharing her expertise with us, we were able to put Measure G2012 on the ballot to preserve Goleta’s agricultural heritage.  Our measure was passed by 71% of Goleta voters of all political persuasions.  As a result, no rezone of Goleta’s largest agriculture parcels can now occur without prior voter approval.

Since becoming Supervisor, Joan Hartmann has continued to be a great supporter of Goleta.  Just a few examples include her support for ending oil drilling off our coast, closing down oil processing at Haskell’s Beach and effectively stopping explosive oil products from being shipped by truck or rail through our city.  She has consistently worked to protect our access to Goleta Beach, and to preserve the Gaviota Coast, the foothills and other such County areas surrounding Goleta.

I urge everyone who cares about Goleta to vote for Joan Hartmann for Third District Supervisor in the March 3rd election. We need her experience and proven commitment to Goleta issues on the Board of Supervisors.

Bob Wignot

Chair of The Goodland Coalition Goleta, Ca


Follow the money. We can all access official campaign contribution information by going online. It’s at When I did, this morning, it became clear that Joan Hartmann, our county supervisor, has received contributions from lots of average folks. Bruce Porter, however, is getting his contributions from a very small group, a handful, of wealthy donors who have been aligned with Big Oil. 

What does this suggest? Joan Hartmann would continue to support the clean, renewable energy economy and jobs that we benefit from now. She’s done this for years. This is our best future and she understands it well. Further, her re-election would not affect existing employment in the oil fields. 

A Porter victory, however, would result in hundreds of new and dangerous oil wells. The effect of this would be few new jobs and greater threats to the county budget as we citizens would be paying to clean up oil spills and to repave roads after tens of thousands of additional annual trips by heavy oil trucks.

We have plenty of oil already. More than enough, in fact. So much that we even export it. We don’t need more forest fires and contaminated drinking water. What we need is an advocate for the good jobs in the safe energy fields. I’m voting for Joan Hartmann and ask you to consider doing the same.

Seth Steiner
Los Alamos, Ca