Mayoral candidate Randy Rowse campaigns without political party
Former Santa Barbara City Councilmember Randy Rowse is starting his campaign for mayor, hoping to catch support from business owners and people unaffiliated with a political party.
He’s running without a left or right tilt, he says, because the job of mayor shouldn’t involve donkeys or elephants. Instead, he wants to focus on Santa Barbara.
The mayor should focus on “precisely the city issues, not outside issues, not ideologies, politics — but what’s going on in the city,” he told the News-Press.
A two-party system has only recently pervaded local government, he said. He thinks the office should be nonpartisan.
“There is no Republican or Democratic view of the city that makes a difference,” he said. “The only major difference is what goes on with the city itself.
“My politics and my ideologies are mine. I still have them, but I don’t take them into work with me when I go into City Council or City Hall.”
As for his platform, he has ideas — though he tries not to be stuck to them.
He’s told local media that he only sees the State Street promenade as a short-term solution. He doesn’t like closing down streets, citing city consultants for that opinion.
“That’s not necessarily how we’re going to end up,” he said. “It wouldn’t be the first argument of my career I’ve ever lost.”
He’s open to changing his mind, which could deter voters looking for rigid plans.
“Unpredictable is exactly what you should be in terms of not knowing how you’re going to look at any particular subject… If the subject is predetermined before you even go into the hearing, why have the hearing?” he said.
He intends to listen to stakeholders and hopes to leave his personal feelings out of it.
“You can’t derive the proper decision making if you’re always either angry or sad or emotional,” Mr. Rowse said. “You have to be able to say things in a very clear and calm manner.
“Most discussions today are not devoid of emotion. That’s not just in the city, that’s all over the country. It’s been distracting, and it certainly hasn’t been productive.”
Objectivity sounds simple but wrestles with human nature, he admits. But he thinks he can view each issue in “its own fresh light.”
A problem that has long been on residents’ minds is housing.
He acknowledges a struggle to get investors to develop affordable housing. So he’d like to incentivize affordable developments, possibly by making the application process less arduous.
“Public entities need to enable the private sectors to do these things,” he said. “Maybe we have got to help them out in terms of how the process goes. Maybe we need to incentivize them in ways that haven’t been thought of yet.”
As the former owner of Paradise Cafe, he understands the private sector. From his nine years in City Council, he has a local government background as well.
“I have a foot in each world. It’s a matter of perspective, it’s not a matter of being smarter than anybody else. It’s just a matter of having the experience and background,” he said.
City Council taught him two things: Santa Barbara has dedicated public servants, and issues can sound more complicated than their core problem.
“Complexities happen when we inject them into the system. So we bring in things that are outside ideologies or other kinds of political views. You’re injecting complexity into something that, frankly, our city deserves better,” he said.
He is frustrated with city officials who wander into national issues rather than local ones.
“To me, it’s about the city. What goes on first and foremost is what goes on with the city’s benefit and not to bring in an outside ideology or pre-formed philosophy that’s going to drive how you make policy,” he said.
Currently, he is organizing his campaign and fundraising. The process is only beginning, as he calls the race a “marathon, not a sprint.”