By NICK MASUDA
DIRECTOR OF NEWS
In one of the most contentious races in recent memory, both challenger Laura Capps and incumbent Das Williams were both overjoyed to finally see the race in the hands of the voters.
Much to Mr. Williams’ surprise, the early mail-in votes actually went in his favor, allowing him to take a comfortable 4.85% lead with more than 71% of the precincts reporting.
Mr. Williams had 7,579 votes, while Ms. Capps had 6,868 as of midnight.
“I tend to lose in the early mail-in ballots,” Mr. Williams said. “So we are cautiously optimistic, we weren’t expecting to do well early.”
A race that featured two Democrats, Ms. Capps reflected on the process of getting to Election Day.
“I’m challenging an incumbent, so that’s always going to be an uphill battle,” Ms. Capps said. “It’s been beautiful for me, I’ve never been a candidate before. It’s hard to go up against an establishment. It’s baked in to not allow others to enter.”
The two candidates have traded barbs over ethics and cannabis, with Ms. Capps calling into question Mr. Williams’ dealings with marijuana growers.
Mr. Williams said that despite the animosity, he was pleased that voters remembered his track record.
“If I do win, it has a lot more to do with how long of a memory that people have in Santa Barbara County,” Mr. Williams said. “They remembered my long years of service; they remember the results that we delivered on public safety and the environment.”
Mr. Williams also called for a return to civility at the local level.
“I don’t like how much the Washington, D.C., acrimony seeped into this race; it was preposterous with the crazy charges and hit pieces,” Mr. Williams said. “In my view, it’s not what we should be allowing in our political discourse in our community.
“We are a community where politics were for many years civil, and we should strive to make sure that they are civil once again.”
Ms. Capps took exception to what she looked at what she called early endorsements, where it didn’t present a fully transparent list of candidates to voters.
“It’s all about how the information is transmitted,” Ms. Capps. “A voter would assume that all candidates in a race would have been interviewed, which is often not the case. It’s about a transparent process for the voters. This is local government, it’s all about the people and those people should know how decisions are made.”