Candidate Roger Aceves devotes life to public service
Editor’s note: This is part of a News-Press series on local candidates. The series will continue Tuesday with a look at the congressional race. Profiles of the state Senate candidates will be published on Wednesday.
Stepping into the home of Roger Aceves is akin to browsing a Goleta and Santa Barbara-based art collection.
Every wall is covered in paintings, from detailed watercolors of Goleta Beach and the Santa Barbara Mission to antique prizes from local auctions and Santa Barbara-themed keepsakes.
Mr. Aceves and his wife, Debby, have collected these local treasures over their 44 years of marriage and have been using them to decorate their home in Goleta since 1982.
While always supporting locally, the couple also makes sure to save their pennies as they do it.
“If we can’t afford to buy something for our home, we don’t buy it. My wife and I sit down and talk about it and we have a very good budget,” Mr. Aceves told the News-Press. “Government needs to be run the same way. If we cannot afford to do it, we shouldn’t do it.”
This is his main focus in his run for Goleta mayor, looking to replace sitting Mayor Paula Perotte.
Mr. Aceves has spent his entire career serving the region, which includes 32 years working in law enforcement, 14 years on Goleta City Council and 42 years for Santa Barbara Elks Lodge which he now chairs on the Board of Trustees and his time as a former governor’s appointee to the board of the 19th Agricultural District that runs Earl Warren Showgrounds. And in 2001, he was El Presidente for Old Spanish Days
The seasoned city official serves as Goleta’s representative to the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, the Regional Integrated Waste Management Reporting Authority and the Local Agency Formation Commission. He also sits on six different city committees.
Mr. Aceves was first elected to Goleta City Council in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018, and he served as mayor in 2009 and 2012. He is the only person of color ever elected to city council and is its longest-serving member.
Now, he’s ready to tackle mayoral duties once again, with four main priorities: supporting local businesses, fixing aging infrastructure, improving parks and open spaces and ending the Revenue Neutrality Agreement, which has required Goleta to pay more than $100 million in sales tax revenue to the county of Santa Barbara.
He also voted against the 1% sales tax proposed by the council.
“One, it is my belief that you do not increase taxes during a pandemic and an economic recession. Two, you don’t increase your taxes without a plan as to how it’s going to be spent,” Mr. Aceves said. “People require the government to reduce waste and find out where to cut expenses. Once we’ve done that and we see we need help, people will understand why we put a sales tax on it. But we haven’t justified it yet.”
He said he believes taxes generated in Goleta should stay in Goleta, so the city can take care of its most basic needs first.
These basic needs include finding innovative ways to assist small businesses, fixing crumbling streets and parks, revitalizing Old Town with more projects like a sidewalk project, encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting local farming and agriculture.
Mr. Aceves also wants to incentivize putting people of color on commissions and running for council.
“I wasn’t elected to opine on national issues. I was elected to take care of the issues for Goleta,” he continued. “I’m intolerant of our crumbling road ways. I’m intolerant of the conditions of our parks. And I’m very intolerant of the fact that we have given the county $122 million. … I need to refocus our council and refocus our community to make sure that our basic needs are taken care of.”
Because this is only the second direct election of the mayor in Goleta, Mr. Aceves does not agree with extending the mayoral term from two years to four.
“I think it’s very self-serving if I was to say, ‘No, give me four years,’” he said. “But more importantly, I think it’s unfair to the citizens for the council to come back and say, ‘We don’t agree with your decision,’ just two years into the program.”
As the city struggles with the economic stress of the pandemic, Mr. Aceves said he’s up for the challenge.
“I was mayor when we were going through the 2008 recession. We made some hard decisions, but we got the job done,” he said. “Fast forward to 2020, it’s that leadership that I’m going to bring back to the city that I was able to show back in 2009.”
All in all, he said it’s his leadership skills, transparency and honesty that qualify him for the position.
“I am what I am and I say what I say,” Mr. Aceves said. “I’ve always been put in positions of responsibility. I pride myself on being able to run efficient meetings and I’ve been recognized as a leader. I bring all these skill sets to the mayor position.”
To learn more about Mr. Aceve’s campaign, visit his website at rogeraceves.com..