Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles about local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Debi Stoker is calling for an end to the vaccine mandate at Santa Barbara City College as she runs for the school’s Board of Trustees.
Mrs. Stoker and Charlotte Gullap-Moore, who teaches nursing at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo, are the candidates for the Area 1 seat left open by the retirement of board member and professor Peter Haslund. The district includes Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.
The vaccine mandate is the campaign’s main issue at this point, Mrs. Stoker told the News-Press Tuesday during an interview outside the City College administration building. Specifically, she is calling on the Board of Trustees to hold an emergency special meeting and repeal Resolution 1, which requires the vaccinations of students, faculty and staff.
She said 4,284 students aren’t being allowed to attend in-campus classes at City College at a time when Ventura College and Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria have rescinded their COVID-19 mandates. The dropping of the mandates were announced on the colleges’ websites (venturacollege.edu and www.hancockcollege.edu).
According to the SBCC website (www.sbcc.edu/covid-19), all students, faculty and staff are still required to either be vaccinated or show a weekly negative COVID-19 PCR test and wear a KN95 or N95 mask. The college said the requirement also applies to people visiting the campus.
“I respect everybody’s choice. I’m not trying to play the supervisor of everybody’s decision,” said Mrs. Stoker, a Carpinteria resident who’s married to Republican Assembly candidate and former EPA regional administrator Mike Stoker.
“I am saying remove the mandates, take down the barriers, let the students back in,” said Mrs. Stoker, who is vaccinated against COVID-19 but believes that should be left up to the individual. “If you want to wear a mask and want the shots and the boosters, it’s free will.”
Mrs. Stoker noted that President Joe Biden declared the COVID-19 pandemic over in an interview Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“And he has better resources than I do,” Mrs. Stoker said. “If we’re supposed to take our lead from the president, it’s over.”
Mrs. Stoker noted people can fly on an airplane without wearing a mask.
She’s receiving support from Justin Shores, founder of StandUp Santa Barbara, an organization that has held rallies opposing COVID-19 mandates.
Mr. Shores, who stood next to Mrs. Stoker during the News-Press interview, said City College’s own surveys show that 20% of students polled would not return to SBCC if the vaccine mandate remains.
Mr. Shores noted students are going to bars without masks and can travel without a mask.
“So why is this the only place where there is this control?” said Mr. Shores, who isn’t vaccinated and believes that the choice should be left to the individual.
He noted Mrs. Stoker would provide a much-needed voice for students, who he believes are not being represented by the majority of the board.