By Janene Scully

Noozhawk North County Editor

Santa Ynez resident Bruce Porter kicked off his campaign on Sept. 18 for the Third District seat on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in a repeat of the 2016 race.

Surrounded by supporters at Solvang’s Sunny Fields Park, Porter, 65, announced his plans to seek the seat now held by Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who intends to seek another term.

“I really think our county could do so much better for its residents,” Porter said, adding he is heartbroken to see people standing in line for food and children lacking homes.

“The Board of Supervisors makes a lot of decisions that directly affect people’s lives and my fear is too many times they’re made based on ideology instead of thinking about people’s lives and the impact they’re going to have,” Porter added. 

The sprawling and politically diverse Third District includes the Santa Ynez Valley, Isla Vista, western Goleta, Gaviota Coast, Vandenberg Village, Mission Hills, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Casmalia, Tanglewood and Guadalupe. 

With the primary election just six months away, Porter said he timed his announcement to avoid being too early while also taking advantage of the upcoming arrival of UCSB students who live in Isla Vista, which accounts for roughly one-third of the votes in the Third District. 

We’ll be there to make sure we welcome them,” Porter said. “And we’ll be asking them about what their needs are as well. What are their ideas to improve Isla Vista?

“Really, our campaign is a series of small campaigns because we need to know what the people in Isla Vista think, and what they need and their ideas on how to make things better,” he said.

Vandenberg Village — they have very different needs, very different concerns, and we’re making sure we know what those are.”

Some issues he has his eyes on include costly fees for permits; the rough roads in the county’s unincorporated areas such as Santa Ynez, Vandenberg Village and Guadalupe; the need to boost water supply; and taking steps to prevent another devastating wildfire.

“Every one of you have great ideas on how to fix most of this but right now your voice is not being heard in front of the county Board of Supervisors,” Porter said.

He picked his kickoff site because it is a park built by community volunteers. 

“That’s what we need — people who will roll up their sleeves, make things happen and get things done,” Porter said. “That’s what we need our county to do.”

Aaron Petersen, a Solvang businessman, spoke in favor of Porter’s campaign.

“Bruce can unify this county like it hasn’t been unified many, many years since Brooks Firestone,who happens to be here today also supporting him,” Petersen said. “We need that in the valley. We need that in the county. It’s not just not a valley issue. It’s a Santa Barbara County issue.”

Porter is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before retiring at the rank of colonel. He later worked as a financial adviser.

He is a member of the board for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and previously sat on the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Board, including time as its president.

Porter and his wife of 34 years, Janette, have three children.

Porter and Hartmann also faced off in the 2016 primary election, and they earned the most votes in a field of five candidates. In the November runoff, Hartman wound up with 53.4 percent of the vote, compared to Porter’s 46.3 percent.

Other seats on the Board of Supervisors on the 2020 ballot include the Fourth District seat, currently held by Peter Adam, and the First District, currently held by Das Williams.

Adams has decided against seeking another term to represent Orcutt and Lompoc, and his chief of staff, Bob Nelson, launched his campaign for the seat earlier this year.

For the First District, Williams will be challenged by Santa Barbara Unified School District board memberLaura Cappsto represent the southern portions of the county along with the Cuyama Valley.

The primary election will occur March 3, 2020, with a runoff set for November 2020 if needed. Typically, runoff elections occur for races involving more than two candidates where no one earns more than 50 percent of the votes.

NoozhawkNorth County editor Janene Scully can be reached at