One Thing in Santa Barbara: Politics

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From food and nightlife to the environment and philanthropy, what were the most important stories and trends of the year in Santa Barbara? Five of our sharpest local observers weigh in on the one thing that shaped 2015.

According to California political writer Jerry Roberts, the top story in local politics this year was the announcement of Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps‘ retirement. Currently in her ninth term, Capps succeeded her husband, Walter Capps, after he died of a heart attack in 1997. She serves California’s 24th congressional district, which includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a portion of Ventura County.

“This is the end of a family dynasty, and someone who has been a dominant figure in Santa Barbara Democrat circles for a long time,” said Roberts. “She’s been very good at constituent services.”

in 2014, Capps helped form the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, to help address, support and represent the economic interests and opportunities facing America’s flower farmers (many of whom live within her district).

“Her leaving is also significant as a marker of a generational shift among Democratic politicians in California,” said Roberts. Capps, age 77, is retiring alongside Governor Jerry Brown, age 77, Senator Barbara Boxer, age 74, Congressman George Miller, age 70, and Congressman Sam Farr, age 74.

Capps’ retirement has also set off a fascinating campaign to succeed her. On the Democratic side, Mayor Helene Schneider and Supervisor Salud Carbajal are front runners, with Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian the strongest candidate on the Republican side. Voters will choose the top two candidates on June 7, 2016 with a general election on November 8, 2016.

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Five candidates are pining for Capps’ seat. From left: Democrats Salud Carbajal, Helene Schneider and William Ostrander, and Republicans Katcho Achadjian and Justin Fareed.

For a look at the whole series, head to kcrw.com/onething.