“Exemplary” is one of those high-minded words that should be bandied about with some care. With 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, however, such restraint should be tossed to the winds. Her first three years in office have been just that: exemplary.
Representing the most contradictory and challenging of all five county districts, Hartmann has consistently impressed. At first blush, her soft-spoken style seems to diminish her influence on the dais. But anyone paying attention quickly grasps the power of her intelligence. Her work ethic suggests the stamina of a long-distance runner, which Hartmann, not coincidentally, happens to be. Anyone representing the 3rd District—which encompasses parts of Goleta, all of Isla Vista, the majestic Gaviota Coast, and the rolling hills of Santa Ynez Valley—wields the key swing vote that defines which way the board will tilt on such issues as climate change, oil development, housing, and cannabis. On those, Hartmann has been reliably progressive, but by no means knee-jerk.
On climate change, Hartmann does far more than “virtue signal” by voting for feel-good resolutions embracing the Green New Deal, as her right-wing critics sniffishly contend. Hartmann and her capable staff continue to push for Community Choice, an important—if impenetrably named—initiative that will allow county energy consumers to buy their juice from renewable sources. But for her intervention, this initiative might have died on the vine. Hartmann also played a key role keeping the Strauss Wind Energy Project alive through tough deliberations. It finally passed just last week. When it comes to new onshore oil and gas development proposals, you can count on Hartmann to bird-dog greenhouse gas emissions aggressively, pushing applicants toward solar installations as a more economically sensible choice. That choice has become more possible since Hartmann joined other supervisors in proposing zoning changes that, if adopted, will significantly expand where renewable energy projects can be built.
On cannabis, the hot-button issue du jour, Hartmann voted with the board majority in making the current mess, but she’s leading the charge to put the genie back in the bottle. To that end, Hartmann’s appointed planning commissioner, John Parke, has been tough and effective on the commission. Hartmann has tackled alternative transportation issues creatively by pushing such ideas as bike tourism.
As an elected official, Hartmann routinely goes beyond good intentions and what “experts” say is possible. She has an outstanding grasp of how the Rubik’s Cube of government bureaucracies fit together and how they don’t. Hartmann is not twitching with personal ambition; she’s not plotting her course up the political food chain. She’s all about right here, right now.
Of the other three candidates running, it’s worth noting that Jessica Alvarez Parfrey—an Isla Vista environmentalist—has dropped out of the race and endorsed Hartmann. As much as we admire Karen Jones, the only card-carrying Republican, for her candor and directness, we disagree with her on too many fundamental issues. Finally, there’s Bruce Porter. His positions on most issues are suspiciously vague, yet on one point he is clear; Bruce Porter has blatantly sought to discourage Isla Vista residents from voting in Isla Vista. In fact, he bragged about reducing the number of registered voters. If that isn’t voter suppression, what is?
Joan Hartmann has been an exemplary supervisor. You can’t do much better than that.
Source: Santa Barbara Independent