SB mayoral candidate gathers supporters at Wingman Rodeo
Mayoral candidate James Joyce III wants the City of Santa Barbara to “break bread,” a goal he thinks is attainable despite wide disparities in wealth among its residents.
Sunday, the mayoral hopeful broke chicken strips in a low-key campaign event at Wingman Rodeo at 730 N Milpas Street.
“One of the challenges with COVID-19 is meeting people where they’re at,” he told the News-Press. “I come here and meet people all the time, and I thought it was a good opportunity to support a neighborhood business.”
His campaign strategy is old-school door-knocking and conversations. He rides a bicycle around town with his supporters, weekdays and weekends, chatting with neighbors about the election.
His mid-year campaign disclosure statement totaled just $31,000 to fellow candidate Randy Rowse’s $131,000.
Campaign Manager Wade Cowper said Mr. Joyce is spending his time with the people rather than major funding sources.
“My focus has always been and will continue to be on engaging with people who don’t normally get involved,” Mr. Joyce said during a question period after his speech. “That means actively outreaching the people for boards and commission opportunities, actively seeking out people’s input where you know their expertise on specific issues.”
Mr. Joyce has a background assisting elected officials, like State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. He has reported on politicians as a journalist in multiple states prior to his move to Santa Barbara.
“A lot of people complain about politics, and they talk about politics with a big P at the federal level, what’s going on with the president,” he said. “But for me, all politics have always been local.”
He discussed his ideas for local policy, all stemming around the vision of community he has witnessed in his volunteerism with the Common Table Foundation as well as his business Coffee with a Black Guy.
“The issues are varied and vast,” he said. “Housing, homelessness, our business, environmental issues, all of these things are things that are top of mind as I’ve been walking around Santa Barbara, knocking on people’s doors.”
He has ideas, and he knows the city council does too. But he is ready to see more plans accomplished.
“We’ve had folks come in here, experts in these areas, doing various workshops and having various conversations. We need to go ahead and actually do it, not conversations, actions,” he said.
He wants to address the issue of affordable housing by increasing inventory. He likes adaptive reuse, such as converting shopping centers into apartments.
“When I talk about the high cost of housing, I don’t speak about that academically. I speak about that personally,” he said, noting an 80% increase in rent over eight years in his current apartment. “That’s unsustainable.”
He believes it’s an attainable goal to house Santa Barbara’s current homeless population — but that the City can’t do it alone.
“We’re not going to solve that issue by ourselves. The thing that I bring specifically to be able to help solve that problem is the approach of regionality and being able to go out and get state and federal funds to help us solve our problem,” he said.
He thinks homelessness should be addressed as a region instead of as municipalities. But he also wants to ensure each homeless person is consulted and given an individualized path.
The future of business in Santa Barbara is uncertain, but the City should have more conversations with business owners, he said.
“We’ve had multiple State Street charrettes … back in 2013 and 2014. We were envisioning a pedestrian walkway on State Street, but it took a global pandemic to get us there,” he said. “There are other ideas that we have been talking about.
“We need to be innovative and bold and go ahead and do it because we are in a very pivotal time in our community and in our country.”
He formed Coffee with a Black Guy during a tumultuous time in the country, as images and videos of police brutality stirred. His idea was to sit down and offer his perspective.
He believes his viewpoint would also be beneficial for the mayor.
“Understanding what it’s like to be invisible, to be able to hear but not be heard. And so these are skills and a perspective that I bring to the office that I think are valuable,” he said.
He plans to hold virtual gatherings and more opportunities at local favorites like Wingman Rodeo. He posts on social media and online at joyceformayor.com.