Council candidates answer youth questions at community forum


Nate Stephenson

The Santa Barbara Youth Council hosted District 1 and 2 city council candidates to ask questions posed by local highschool students on Monday, Oct. 29, 2019, in the Louise Lowry Davis Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. Eight candidates had one minute each to answer questions on topics like vaping, sustainability and mental health.

Serena Guentz, News Editor

Candidates vying for the District 1 and District 2 seats on the Santa Barbara City Council answered questions from the community’s youth at the Youth-Led Candidates’ Forum at the Louise Lowry Davis Center Monday.

The forum was hosted by the Santa Barbara Youth Council in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Teen Network, St. George Youth Center YMCA and Future Leaders of America.

Candidates discussed the issues and concerns of Santa Barbara’s youth with questions coming directly from local high school students. Discussions included topics such as mental health, climate change, vaping, gun safety and LGBTQ rights.

“We think it’s important for youth to have a voice in the community,” said Quinn Stefan, chair of the Santa Barbara Youth Council and a junior at Dos Pueblos High School.

The Santa Barbara Youth Council serves as an advisory board and consists of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. 

With these forums focusing on concerns of the youth, one question addressed the e-cigarette and vaping “epidemic.”

“Anything inhaled is unhealthy on the body and the adolescent brain,” said District 2 candidate Teri Jory. 

District 2 candidate Tavis Boise suggested banning the sale of all e-cigarettes in the city. Most of the candidates agreed with Boise except for District 2 candidate Luis Esparza.

“I don’t think another ban is the right approach,” Esparza said. “It’s not a healthy activity… but please not another ban.

“I was the council member who made the motion three years ago to ban smoking and vaping in the parks,” said District 1 council member Jason Dominguez, who is running for re-election. “But it goes beyond the physical health and the mental health issues. This is a cultural issue, we need to support finance reform.”

Jason Dominguez talks about solutions to vaping products being targeted towards children Monday, in the Louise Lowry Davis Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Nate Stephenson
Jason Dominguez talks about solutions to vaping products being targeted towards children Monday, in the Louise Lowry Davis Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Another topic of discussion brought up by a question from the Youth Council was LGBTQ+ rights.

“We need to start empowering the youths that are part of this population,” said District 1 candidate Alejandra Gutierrez. “I also believe that the city has to get involved in a no tolerance for discrimination… We also need to work with parents.”

Candidate Michael Jordan also said that the city, as well as each individual, has the responsibility to provide inclusivity.

“Today’s world is not my grandparent’s world, not my parent’s world, it’s not even my world. It’s your world,” Jordan said. “It changes daily and it changes at a speed that was not here in the past. We have to be able to accept that and work with that.”

Climate change was also brought up during the forum.

“We have to think about the Climate Action Plan that was developed in 2012, it hasn’t been followed through,” said District 1 candidate Cruzito Herrera Cruz.

Campbell discussed how he and his family walk everywhere, as well as being conscious of what products and companies they buy from.

“The best way to advocate for anything is to lead by example,” Campbell said.

A common theme among all of the candidates was their focus on education on these issues to the community and the importance of the youth’s voice.

“I really care about the future of this town and the future of our planet because climate change is here,” Boise said about why he is running. “I’m fighting for all the young people in this room and your kids and your grandkids because you really deserve a seat at the table.”

Stefan closed the forum by reminding everyone of the importance of the youth’s voice throughout the Santa Barbara community.

“Youth are a really big part of the community and we have a lot to say,” Stefan said.