Doreen Farr says she’s a Democratic environmentalist and a seasoned business owner.
The former Santa Barbara County Planning Commission chairwoman is the frontrunner for the hotly contested 3rd District seat on the board of supervisors.
“I’m able to run a small business and make a payroll,” Farr, 56, said in a Business Times interview.
She has co-owned and sold an area newspaper, magazines and radio stations.
Farr finished with most of the votes in the 3rd District primary election, but not enough to outright win the seat held by Brooks Firestone, who chose not to seek re-election.
Firestone has been a key vote on the board, which was most recently proved in August when he revised his position on South Coast oil drilling. He and the two other Republican supervisors asked the governor to back offshore oil drilling and exploration.
Even though the 3-2 board vote for drilling was largely symbolic, Farr would not say whether she would vote to overturn it.
“The board would have to talk about it and see if there is a change of heart,” she said. “The reason for the vote was the [county’s deficit-ridden] budget. The vote wasn’t going to solve the problem.”
As for the county’s multi-million-dollar deficit, Farr said, “We may need to cut where we can do it.” She also said the county has to stop paying for the problems caused by companies such as Greka Energy and its subsidiaries, which have been plagued by oil spills that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up and monitor.
Farr pointed to her nearly three decades of experience in managing a company budget and making it profitable as key qualifications for her seat on the board. She also said she knows her constituents.
“I have much more knowledge of the 3rd District since I have lived in both sides of it,” Farr said, referring to the sprawling area, which includes what is now incorporated Goleta, Isla Vista, Vandenberg Village, much of the Santa Ynez Valley and the Gaviota coastal area. It is the county’s largest supervisorial district in acreage.
Farr noted that she was in business in Goleta before it became a city. After selling most of her businesses, she moved to the Santa Ynez Valley where she was involved in several community groups and the planning commission.
Farr said she might spend a total of about $500,000 in her campaign for the supervisor’s seat. She said she spent about $300,000 in the June 3 primary win when she scored almost 36 percent of the vote, compared with her closest rival, businessman and entrepreneur Steve Pappas, who garnered about 26 percent.
Firestone endorsed his top aide, Dave Smyser, to succeed him, but he finished third in the primary with 21 percent of the vote.
Although she has never been a candidate for elective office, Farr said her experience is “a natural extension” of her public service.
“I know what it’s like to have county government be your only government,” Farr said.
She has been president of the Patterson Area Neighborhoods Association and the Santa Ynez Valley Alliance. She has been a member of the Goleta Union School District Advisory Committee, the County Committee for School District Organization and Citizens Planning Association.
Farr was a co-owner of the Goleta Valley Voice Newspaper and a partner at KSPE and KBKO radio stations, Touring and Tasting magazine and wine club, and Victoria Street Theater. She has been a Westmont College financial-aid counselor and a City of Goleta, planning consultant.
She has received the endorsements of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Janet Wolf, 2nd District county supervisor Salud Carbajal, board of supervisors chairman, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, council members Iya Falcone, Grant House, Helene Schneider and Das Williams, along with Goleta Mayor Pro Tem Roger Aceves.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorneys Association also has endorsed Farr.
Farr has three sons. She has a bachelor’s and master’s in history from San Jose State University and has taken teaching credential courses from Chapman University.