February 4, 2023
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Editorial: Incumbents hold their spots in regional races


With the June 3 primary results in, a few of the races we’ve been watching have been decided, a ballot measure has been rejected and November certainly looks more interesting than it did a week ago.

Last week’s results in Santa Barbara County represented a victory for incumbent 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf and Sheriff Bill Brown, who handily held their contested seats. One conclusion might be that both of them handled the Isla Vista tragedy (which actually happened in the 3rd District) with professionalism and tact, making it harder for voters to want to make a change.

Measure M, a contested bill that would have forced Santa Barbara County to spend millions each year on maintenance and infrastructure, was narrowly turned back.

In Ventura County, incumbent Congresswoman Julia Brownley, a Thousand Oaks Democrat, came away with the most votes. But outgoing Assemblymember Jeff Gorell made a strong showing in a race that will go down to the wire.
In the election to succeed Gorell, Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Jacqui Irwin polled a strong 46 percent, but the Republican vote was split between Tea Party favorite Rob McCoy and insurance executive Mario de la Piedra, one of two exciting new candidates with business experience. The outcome won’t be clear for a week or so.

In San Luis Obispo County, District 4 Supervisor Caren Ray, appointed when Paul Teixeira died suddenly, was narrowly bested by Lynn Compton. Since neither got more than 50 percent, they will face off in November.

Finally, in the 23rd Congressional District, Congresswoman Lois Capps will face either Chris Mitchum or Justin Fareed in November. Fareed, like De la Piedra, comes out of a business background and puts a new face on the Republican Party in the region.

One thing that will make the November election one to watch was the news on June 2 that Ventura County’s pension reform ballot measure collected enough signatures to be ballot ready. If it is cleared by the county supervisors, it will be a closely watched barometer for statewide pension reform.

Meanwhile, if either de la Piedra or Fareed can break through to the general election, getting some fresh faces before the voters in November will make the GOP much more competitive in the longer run. The Brownley-Gorell match remains close.

Six months out, the lesson from June 3 is that voters are not cranky enough to turn out incumbents or take chances on unknowns. Which is why the Ventura County pension measure remains one to watch.