Goleta City Council member Roger Aceves announced Monday that he is running for mayor come November.
He is challenging Mayor Paula Perotte, who previously announced her bid for re-election.
Mr. Aceves has served as Goleta’s mayor twice before, in 2009 and 2013.
In a news release, the council member stated he has chosen to run for mayor again to get the city council refocused on pressing matters that need to be addressed quickly.
“I’ve decided to run because while I believe we’ve done some great things as a council, for too long our focus has been misguided and simple things like maintaining roadways and building a much-needed fire station aren’t getting done,” he said.
The council member stressed that a new fire station is of the utmost importance because Goleta is “a fire-prone area.”
Mr. Aceves also intends on reducing the city’s budget amid the recession brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told the News-Press that the city has thus far trimmed the budget by freezing 13 positions and ceasing hiring for the time being. He added that the city of Goleta has “from day one” put money into a restricted fund of at least $20 million, enough to hold the city over for 90 days.
“Thank God we have that money because now we’re able to balance our budget with money that we’ve set aside,” he said.
In addition to tightening the belt on government spending, Mr. Aceves wants to do away with the 1% sales tax favored by most of the council, on the grounds that a pandemic isn’t a good time for “asking our citizens to pay our bills.”
He told the News-Press, “I have adamantly opposed the 1% sales tax that the council majority is pushing now. It is not the right time. We are going into a recession, some say a depression.”
When Mr. Aceves started his first term as mayor, it was just after the 2008 recession.
Describing that time as “very uncomfortable,” he recalled spending a great deal of time with the council coming up with a recovery plan to get Goleta out of the economic conditions following the financial crisis.
Now that a similar situation has arisen, he said he wants to help Goleta through the current crisis by demonstrating the same leadership he showed then.
“I want to provide strong leadership to get us out of the economic conditions that COVID-19 has put us in, the same leadership I showed in 2009 as mayor,” he said.
Other issues that Mr. Aceves hopes to address as mayor include easing the process that local business owners and landowners must go through to make changes to their properties, as well as creating the position of a city diversity, equity and inclusion officer. In his opinion, this position is one that the city should have created “automatically” rather than one that’s only now getting recognized as a necessity.
“It shouldn’t have taken us almost 20 years to identify that we need to better address diversity and implicit bias within our staff and city practices,” he said.
According to Mr. Aceves, the duties of the diversity, equity and inclusion officer would include doing outreach to develop a city staff that is representative of the Goleta community.
Though a registered Democrat, Mr. Aceves is running for a nonpartisan office.
“The only endorsement I’m looking for is nonpartisan,” he said. “I’m looking for the endorsement of our citizens.”