Editor’s note: This is part of a series on local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Inspired by his community, David Silva is running for the District 4 seat on the Buellton City Council against former council member Art Mercado.
“I actually decided to run in 2020 when we were dealing with COVID and my partner Jason was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That time revealed some of the things Buellton is lacking, such as services for physical and mental health,” Mr. Silva told the News-Press. “It was so inspiring to have people we barely knew help us when they could by checking in on us or bringing us meals.
“If that is what my neighbors are going to do, I feel an obligation to pay it forward to the rest of Buellton. I wanted to make sure that level of community support was available to all members of Buellton, including social, transportation and community services.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Silva how his career has prepared him for this position. “I work for UCSB in fundraising and philanthropy with nonprofits,” he said. “I have learned how to navigate complex systems and the state funding structure, as well as how to model change in systems that are resistant to it. I have become good at figuring out how to digest local issues and bureaucratic nightmares so the local community can understand it.”
Mr. Silva grew up in Orcutt and graduated from UCSB in 2010 with a bachelor’s in communications and religious studies with coursework in economics.
“It was a great set up for critical thinking,” he said. “Thanks to my education, I can look at most situations holistically and look at the human capital that comes from it. It has given me an analytical mind.”
Mr. Silva spoke to his goals if elected.
“Buellton tends to get written off as a bedroom community,” he said. “Because a lot of Buellton is commuters who work elsewhere, there is a conception that residents aren’t engaged in local politics and community.
“I feel an obligation to meet people where they are and make it more accessible for the local community,” Mr. Silva said. “I would like to make Buellton politics more accessible to the average person.
“Instead of a fear of growing, I want to reframe it to how we want Buellton to evolve over the next 10 to 20 years,” he explained. “I also want to increase diversity in the business structure, while keeping the small town feel. I want to welcome people who want to make Buellton their forever home and invest in infrastructure that can support those goals.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Silva why he felt he is better for this position than his opponent.
“I think Art is a great guy, and we both are trying to do what is best for Buellton. I want to honor that,” Mr. Silva said. “There comes a space with every city. We always need to honor where we come from, but we need to have a strong vision.
“I am a fan of growing with the changing demographic that Buellton has become and seeing that those needs are met. I would be able to engage and represent those people who haven’t been historically represented in Buellton leadership over the last few years,” he said. “Buellton has had great leadership. But for any city to thrive, new ideas and new viewpoints lead to a better conversation.”
“I would like voters to know that my reason for running is because I truly love this community,” Mr. Silva said. “To be able to find a place you can call home and be accepted the way I have is not something I could have considered five or 10 years ago.
“I want to make sure Buellton continues to be caring and accepting of all residents and has the small town feel that we moved here for.”