Editor’s note: This is part of a series on local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Tom Widroe is stressing public safety as he runs for Buellton City Council against Hudson Hornick.
“We have lived in Buellton almost 14 years and raised our kids here,” Mr. Widroe told the News-Press. “We have 14-year-old triplets and a 12-year-old. We really love the city. It has been a great place to make our home, and we feel like we have gotten to know the good people of Buellton.”
Mr. Widroe said a few people asked him if he would be willing to run for the District 1 seat on the council.
“I decided I would be willing to serve and help make decisions for Buellton,” he said.
“I look at rising crime in America, California, and big cities. Buellton is an oasis, a safe city, maybe the safest in Santa Barbara County, and I want to keep it that way,” Mr. Widroe said. “I want our relationship with the sheriff to be strong. I want to utilize whatever mechanisms are available to keep our city safe. I don’t want to tolerate any increased level of crime; I don’t think it’s acceptable.
“Violence and property crime is on the upswing in Santa Ynez Valley, and homelessness is on the upswing as well,” Mr. Widroe said. “Buellton has to draw the line and make sure these people get help. But help is not synonymous with illegal encampments. We want to keep Buellton a safe and welcoming place but not for illegal encampments and not for those who want to commit crimes.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Widroe how his career has prepared him for this position.
“I have been in public policy most of my career. I worked for a county supervisor, a state assemblywoman and a congressman. My current role is as a consultant with a focus on public affairs. When you work for a public official, you are responsible for community service. When constituents call and have an issue, it’s incumbent on you being on the front lines of helping people solve problems.
“It involves everything from potholes to federal issues,” Mr. Widroe noted. “These are real bread-and-butter issues that affect people in a very real way. I have a keen understanding of what constituents go through. It has been a big part of my life doing this kind of work.”
Mr. Widroe received his bachelor’s in history in 1986 from UCSB and his master’s in history with a public policy in 1989 from the same university. He wrote his thesis on the national wilderness preservation system and how it came to be.
“I think Buellton is a great city, but there is a lot of untapped potential,” Mr. Widroe said.
“When they moved into putting in the 101 (freeway), they left Avenue of Flags, which is awkwardly constructed due to it being vestiges of the old highway,” Mr. Widroe said. “It can be made into a more walkable space more like Paso Robles with an identifiable downtown. I think it’s time to move on some of that stuff. We have talked about it for a long time. People know about it.
“There isn’t really a center for Buellton, He continued. “I would like to dig into that plan and see what is realistic and if it could be something like Paso Robles.”
He added he would like to explore the idea of a recreation sports complex. “People have to travel far for sporting events for their kids, while some other communities have built nice amenities. I would like Buellton to be a community willing to embrace something like that.”
Mr. Widroe discussed his opponent.
“I met Hudson the other day at a forum. I don’t know if I am better,” Mr. Widroe said. “I like Hudson. I think he is sharp; he has a neat family. He works for the county, has a good sense of humor and thinks clearly. If he wins, I think the community will be well served.
“I think we have different emphasis on our campaigns,” Mr. Widroe said. “I think I have more experience by virtue of age and hopefully a little bit of wisdom. But I think my opponent is worthy and capable of serving Buellton well.”
“First and foremost, I am a family guy,” Mr. Widroe said. “ I love being with my family and my wife, Maureen. I appreciate Buellton and Santa Barbara County. We have spent most of our lives here. I spend my free time with my family exploring the central coast and going to activities.
“I am committed to my family and community.”