Staff Report


In addition to national and statewide candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot, local voters will see three ballot measures and an unusually large number of candidates in Buellton, Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District.

In the high school district, 11 people are running for three school board seats.

In Solvang, incumbent Jim Richardson and City Councilman Ryan Toussaint are competing for mayor, while eight other people are seeking two council seats.

And in Buellton, where Mayor Holly Sierra is unopposed, seven people are competing for four City Council positions.

The Santa Ynez Valley Star will be profiling candidates in those races in our Oct. 2 issue.

Ballot measures include a tax on marijuana sales in Solvang, a parcel tax in the Buellton Union School District, and a bond measure in the Hancock College district.

Four forums have been scheduled over the next several weeks so voters can hear directly from the candidates. Sponsors of those forums include The Star, W.E. Watch, the Solvang Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Ynez Valley News.

The schedule of forums is:

  • Thursday, Sept. 27, 7-9:30 p.m.: Santa Ynez Community Service District and ID1 (the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, Improvement District No. 1) at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 3, 7-9 p.m.: Buellton City Council at Oak Valley Elementary School multipurpose room. In addition, information will be available about the Buellton Union School District’s parcel tax ballot measure.
  • Thursday, Oct. 4, 6-7 p.m. meet and greet, 7-8:30 p.m. forum for Solvang mayor and City Council at Bethania Lutheran Church Parish Hall.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m.: High school board candidates at the Little Theater on the high school campus.

The ballot measures are:

Solvang city cannabis tax (simple majority required to pass): Residents will be asked to vote on a measure that would allow the city to collect at least 5 percent and a maximum of 10 percent sales tax, with a maximum 1 percent increase per year, on cannabis sales. The city approved an ordinance in August allowing for one or more medicinal cannabis dispensaries within the city limits. Goleta and Lompoc have similar measures on the ballot.

Buellton Union School District Parcel Tax (2/3 approval required to pass): District voters will decide on a tax measure asking for $99 per parcel of land annually for eight years beginning July 1, 2019. The measure allows exemptions for homeowners who are 65 or older or who receive Supplemental Security Income for a disability. The tax would raise approximately $250,000 a year to improve STEM and arts programs, bring back a music program, maintain small class sizes, increase student access to technology, preserve reading intervention programs, and expand student health and wellness programs.

Hancock College District Bond Measure (55 percent required to pass): The $75 million bond measure will provide funding to upgrade the college. The bond measure will modernize and upgrade classrooms, facilities and technology and expand access to training programs that help students learn real-world skills. The length of the bond is 30 years.

Not on the ballot are positions where candidates were unopposed. People automatically elected include Buellton mayor Holly Sierra and school board members in Ballard (Stephen Jacobs and Chris Kazali), Buellton (Andrew Morgan), College School District (Molly Walker, Craig Little and Debbie Goldsmith), Los Olivos (Demory Fordyce), Solvang (Benjamin Olmedo, Meghan Garvey and John Winkler), and Vista Del Mar Union School District (Stephanie Mathis and Ryan Harrington).

Santa Barbara County is due to begin mailing vote-by-mail ballots on Oct. 9. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 22.

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