Republican candidate Charles Cole is one of two people moving forward in Santa Barbara’s 37th District State Assembly election. Following an election with six different Democratic candidates, Mr. Cole emerged in the lead by obtaining less than 28% of the vote.
Mr. Cole, who encourages voters to “vote their values,” believes that the Central Coast should return to the racist, classist, sexist, homophobic values that existed at the inception of our country.
Rather than encouraging a more participatory democratic government, Mr. Cole believes in a “limited government,” removing the programs and legislation that protect our community parks, small business owners, produce fields, healthcare workers and human rights. He fails to realize, however, that our country’s total COVID-19 death count already serves as an example of what a hands-off and careless government results in.
In this time of racial, economic, and social unrest, our country and district need leaders who are representative of their communities. Mr. Cole, however, believes our schools “prioritize feelings over reasoning” and left Santa Barbara City College because he felt the school indoctrinated students to believe in liberal policies and science like climate change. Mr. Cole blames our climate change-driven fires, natural disasters and power outages on environmental activists as opposed to our lack of strong, innovative infrastructure and big corporate interests, who like Mr. Cole, continuously prioritize profit over people.
We need leaders who are passionate about the safety, livelihood, health, success, wealth and happiness of all. Mr. Cole, however, is representative of an unprepared, ignorant and arrogant leader interested in limiting the safety of wellbeing of our communities.
Mr. Cole is concerned with protecting jobs, rather than the people who hold them. Mr. Cole fails to realize, however, that without people, there are no jobs, there is no economy.
Mr. Cole believes in profits over people and doesn’t realize that the protection of occupational rights would innately and simultaneously boost efficiency, creativity, profitability and humanity too. He believes in strengthening divisions and creating further unrest and borders in our multicultural, hardworking, district and country.
In fact, Mr. Cole opposes cultural proficiency and implicit bias training in our school districts, touting that these trainings actually create “race hatred.” Further, Mr. Cole believes that sanctuary cities are a “waste,” “nonsense” and an example of a “useless social indoctrination programs.” In a truly tone deaf manner and time of such heightened violence and unrest, Mr. Cole is not concerned with promoting gun safety or unity in our communities.
While so many of us await a Senate decision on a second stimulus check, student loan forgiveness, small business support and resources to sustain our livelihood, Mr. Cole believes in stopping government programs that provide crucial resources like food and rent support.
He refuses to acknowledge and advocate for worker rights and promises to repeal an Assembly bill that would provide workers with rights such as: minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance. Mr. Cole’s ideas and values are inhumane, unjust and inequitable, and we will not allow him to win this election.
Mr. Cole believes in further privatizing industries like healthcare rather than demanding innovative and inclusive legislation from our leaders.
Previously as a healthcare consultant, I know, however, that the privatization of healthcare is not the solution to our community’s struggles. We need leaders who understand that healthcare for all will spur everlasting societal growth that our country is irrefutably desperate for. Healthcare, after all, is a driver and contributor to our housing and opioid crises, of environmental injustice and mass incarceration, and the decrease of our students attending college.
Our focus should not be on the privatization and monetization. It should be on ensuring the success of our youth, our families, our workers, our elderly, our creatives, our students.
The Central Coast, known for its beautiful beaches, authentic Mexican food, acres of produce fields, is home to close to 466,000 residents — 466,000 residents of countless racial and ethnic backgrounds and speakers of a myriad of languages. Mr. Cole claims to be a “leader for a new generation,” but he is a leader of the past who will never represent our district.
We need a leader who understands our district’s priorities, cultures, and humanities — one who understands what could be possible with strategic, inclusive and thoughtful leadership; one who is not Charles Cole.
Santa Barbara needs a leader who advocates for:
— Occupational rights in the boardroom, fields, kitchens and classrooms.
— Environmental justice and the right to clean air, water and food free from toxins spewed by big corporate industries.
— Housing and tenant rights and understands the challenges today’s workers face just to live in our district.
— Respect and protection of all individuals, but especially our black, immigrant, trans, elderly, disabled and undocumented community members.
— Pathways to residency and citizenship and respect of immigrants and refugees.
— Workers who depend on their employment not just for income, but insurance and benefits too.
— Pay equity and acknowledges how black and Latino/Latina residents continue to be paid less than their white counterparts
While Mr. Cole emerged as the frontrunner following the March election, we have time to change the results in November.
I urge our community to register to vote (https://registertovote.ca.gov); review the classist, xenophobic and ignorant policies that Mr. Cole believes https://www.coleforassembly.com/issues; and discuss what matters to you and why with your community; connect (virtually) about what matters and what is at stake if someone like Charles Cole wins the election.
2020 is the year of virtual classrooms and graduations, the year of “don’t forget your phone, keys and mask.” It is the year the presidential administration questioned science, epidemiology and the value of American lives, and we proclaimed, “not my president.”
This year, we saw how a legacy of centuries of white supremacy plays out in our everyday lives. This year, millions of Americans lost their jobs, and consequently, their health insurance too.
2020 was the year our favorite businesses closed, and farm workers were forced to continue to work under already toxic conditions in the midst of a global pandemic and climate-change driven fires. 2020 is not the year that we elect Charles Cole to lead us.
The Central Coast needs a leader for the future — one who understands how the challenges of our country’s past continue to transcend our district but believes that united, we can prepare for a just, equitable world.
The Central Coast does not need Charles Cole.
Karinna M. Carrillo is a master of public health candidate at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and was born and raised in Santa Barbara.
Karinna M. Carrillo
The author is a Santa Barbara native.