Randy Rowse says he doesn’t feel pressure to serve any group or party over another
Randy Rowse stepped into his election-night party at El Paseo with a smile. Standing among his family, friends were some of the area’s prominent conservatives.
But Santa Barbara’s mayor-elect doesn’t feel pressure to represent any one group or party affiliation. He appreciates his supporters — from which he received over $300,000 in campaign contributions — but now he says he has to serve the city.
“I’m not working for the people who voted for me more than the people who didn’t vote for me. I owe everyone everything, period,” he told the News-Press.
“There’s no group, no ideology. I have no party, as you already know,” he said, referring to previous interviews where he discussed running unaffiliated. “It’s really a very, very simple process. It really is; it’s egalitarian as all get out.”
Despite his lack of party affiliation, he said he is not an “unknown factor” coming into the Santa Barbara City Council. Mr. Rowse was seated in the chambers just two years ago and has worked with four of six council members.
He said he has met with each council member and department leader. And he would like to start his tenure with a return to in-person council meetings, along with the public participating via Zoom.
Mr. Rowse would also like to reset the council’s procedures and decorum.
“My thinking is to regenerate a collaborative team on Council. It seems like it isn’t really focused on the city itself, it seems like there’s a lot of ancillary factors involved,” he said.
He doesn’t like when the city council writes ordinances in support of nationwide policies such as Medicare for all.
“I don’t know how you feel about Medicare for all, and you don’t know how I feel. But what I do know is it’s not a Santa Barbara thing,” he said.
Mr. Rowse described a “princess act” in the past where he “stamps (his) little feet” when symbolic ordinances are written.
“If someone’s putting an ordinance together just to send a message, that’s what makes people so cynical about government,” he said.
But he also prefers to avoid ordinances when practicable. He said he would rather talk to landlords of vacant properties on State Street than enforce a vacancy ordinance.
“I believe in a collaborative community approach instead of a top-down, ordinance-heavy approach,” Mr. Rowse said.
State Street is where he hopes to start making a change. He envisions a cleaning and lighting effort that doesn’t encroach on long-term visioning.
“I think we’re just around the corner from coming back,” he said, referring to State Street’s new businesses.
Mr. Rowse owned Paradise Cafe, now La Paloma Cafe (also its original name), when he served on the city council. Now the only job he will hold when he takes office is mayor.