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Editorial: Diving into politics an act of courage

By   /   Friday, December 16th, 2011  /   Comments Off on Editorial: Diving into politics an act of courage

We were surprised when Peter Adam, a Santa Maria resident and fifth-generation owner of a substantial agribusiness in the region, tossed his hat in the ring for the 4th District supervisor race.

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It’s not everyday that a Santa Barbara County business owner decides to take the plunge into politics.

Indeed, sometimes anti-business sentiment in the county is so strong we wonder if the county has accepted the premise that making profits is actually an authorized activity.

Which is why we were surprised when Peter Adam, a Santa Maria resident and fifth-generation owner of a substantial agribusiness in the region, tossed his hat in the ring for the 4th District supervisor race.  Adam has been a director of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau and its Cattlemen’s Association.

He said in his announcement statement that he wants “comprehensive reform” of the way the county does business, including retooling pensions, rebuilding aging infrastructure and getting a North County jail on a fast track.

These are welcome suggestions from a vegetable farmer who has spent much of his career signing the front of his employees’ paychecks rather than the back of a government paycheck.

As is our habit, we won’t be endorsing a candidate in this race. And it is unfortunate that Adam will be running against Joni Gray, one of the most pro-business incumbents on the board of supervisors.

But any time a business owner sticks up his or her hand and volunteers to take the slings and arrows that come with life in the public arena, we’re inclined to at least recognize their courage.

This is a difficult time for county governments in general, and among the three counties in our region Santa Barbara County faces the biggest structural challenges — it must get its future costs under control, it must find ways to grow revenue through economic development, it must protect its beautiful environment, and it must find a way to speed its processes so that property owners can get much faster answers when they bring projects to the planning department.

The fact that Peter Adam is willing to stand up and be counted is a sign that the business community at large wants to play a bigger role in the restructuring of county government. And that is worthy of recognition.

Chamber champions

One place where businesspeople have made their mark is through volunteer efforts to chair our local chambers of commerce.

At the Goleta chamber, Steve Fedde is wrapping up a successful term that included a number of accomplishments. Chief among them was getting a new headquarters for Deckers Outdoor Corp. at Cabrillo Business Park, which Fedde and partner Russ Goodman have shepherded through the planning process.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Limoneira Co. marketing guru John Chamberlain is taking the chair of the Santa Paula Chamber beginning in January. He’s the latest in a series of folks associated with the state’s largest citrus producer to play a lead role in Santa Paula, where the company is headquartered.

Wait till next year

Finally, we extend congratulations to Santa Barbara City College on its recent selection as one of the 10 best community colleges in the nation.

Although SBCC lost out to the Valencia Community College in Florida for the top honor, it ably represented our region in a competition hosted by the Aspen Institute.

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