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  • Santa Maria 2022 Election City Council.png

  • City Council Candidate Questionaire Responses

  • The Chamber applauds the four individuals who have stepped forward this year as candidates for the City Council.   We appreciate their willingness to be part of the solution in our community.  The Chamber is committed to working with all community leaders, including the elected members of the City Council, to solve these challenges and to create a community in which businesses can successfully operate and grow, leading to a level of economic vitality that will make Santa Maria the community of choice on the Central Coast to live and work.

    The Chamber has articulated a Policy Framework that provides elected officials and their staffs with a filter for making decisions that maximize the potential for our community to thrive.    The core of the framework is built on the affirmation that business success is essential to community success and vice versa.    

    Based on our Policy Framework, the Chamber identified 11 key topics that we believe should top the Council's agenda and asked the candidates to share ideas, or at least principles, that help voters understand how they would approach the various challenges.    We encourage voters to review and compare the responses submitted by the candidates (presented verbatim as submitted) and compare the candidates approaches to these issues. 

    As you evaluate the candidate statements, we encourage you to consider the Chamber's Policy Framework as a filter.

    Read the Chamber's Policy Framework here.


  • Questions & Responses

  • Q1: The City is currently planning for 40,000 new residents and 10,000-plus new jobs over the next 30 years. What would you advocate for in meeting those goals? What cautions do you have for those who are developing the plan?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    This isn’t a sprawling community…this is a gem. We need to protect the Central Coast and ensure it doesn’t become the next Los Angeles. We need to coordinate with business owners, city, county officials to ensure the best parts of our city are highlighted and those who maintain safety and order have the ability to ensure our city grows in a way that accommodates the projected population and underlines the rich history of our valley.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    To prepare for the increase in population and job growth, the City has to increase its housing stock, including affordable housing. Improving housing affordability directly benefits job opportunities, especially for low-income earners. Additionally, as the labor market continues to shift, so must the opportunity to increase skilled labor by encouraging apprenticeship programs that provide occupational training. Cities must create high-skilled jobs and opportunities for low-skilled employees to move up the labor market ladder to support sustainable economic growth. Without doing, so, cities run the risk of weak economies.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    I would support economic development to attract new companies to Santa Maria that can provide higher-paying careers. I would support policies that attract developers to the city to develop additional housing to house the new 40,000 residents.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    Urban planning for growth requires collective community commitment to “liveability”: People want to feel comfortable and secure. We should ensure preservation and enhancement of open space, for example, parks, and bike/walk corridors for outside activities, spaces for public art and leisure, and outdoor markets. Maximize bike path connectivity with parks. I support mixed use housing development that allows access to schools, grocery stores, retail, restaurants, other amenities, as well as the aforementioned open space to create healthier communities.

    I would support partnerships with developers that share our community values of preserving the Valley’s culture in agriculture, arts, and business endeavors that promote residents’ well being in all aspects of their lives. I would be cautious of development that creates sprawl into our agricultural land. Any plan for ingress into surrounding undeveloped land must be treated with the greatest attention to prevent our beautiful Valley being filled in by housing or industry that could be built in the existing borders. The City has a vast potential for wise redevelopment to preserve a firm rural-urban boundary through long term planning, working with local property owners’ needs.


  • Q2: Revitalizing Downtown has been a goal of City Councils (and the community) for many years. Recently, a Chamber-facilitated process led to the City partnering with a developer on a bold plan, which could result in significant new office, retail, and housing in our downtown core. As the details are finalized, what considerations are important to consider? What steps would you support to expedite getting construction started as soon as possible?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    We need to help current business owners and developers avoid frustrations through this revitalization process by;

    • being upfront with the set standards for new and existing property
    • giving them a clear understanding of what is expected
    • Providing detailed steps necessary for obtaining permits
    • Assuring guidelines to preserve the area’s history/aesthetics are enforced for everyone

    I will encourage my colleagues on the council to watch for shifting local economies, changes in our city administrators, and population variables—all of which can change the direction of a community plan initiative. Listening to our community and getting their feedback in the early process of the plan is imperative.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    Revitalization projects create vibrant cores by attracting residents to live and work downtown. To make this possible, the City must consider walkable and bikeable infrastructure, mix-use development, and entertainment. In Santa Maria, revitalizing our downtown is a long time coming. To expedite the process, I supported the partnership between Vernon Group and the City of Santa Maria by offering developer incentives to accelerate the development process.

    As revitalization is underway, the City must also consider the threat of gentrification of small businesses. Small businesses owned by Latino, immigrants, or other minorities face additional systemic and cultural barriers as they try to maintain and grow their business in a changing environment. Along Main and Broadway, we have a large number of Latino-owned businesses. Therefore the City must identify strategies to prevent the displacement of minority-owned businesses as it continues its efforts toward revitalization.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    It is important to consider attracting local businesses to move to the downtown area to revitalize it. It’s important to look at the unintended consequences of selling public land to one developer without negotiating favorable terms for the city.

    I would support an automatic timeline for the different phases of the project to hold all the local leaders and city employees accountable to moving the project forward.

    The current local city council has made a decision and therefore it is important to move the project forward and develop the heart of the city where city residents can gather and feel part of the community.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    The site of the proposed plan sits on the former “heart of downtown” of my childhood. I fondly remember the Broadway stores, theater, and nearby post office. The Santa Maria Town Center’s original promise was to provide a shopping hub for the residents. As is the case in many other communities around the country, we learned that people enjoy shopping in outside venues where they can browse, gather for conversation, and enjoy food and beverages. The indoor design of the Town Center is pleasant, but lacks the outdoor access. Town Center West’s layout can be configured to promote walkable, relaxing spaces in which to enjoy the surrounding businesses in an outdoor environment. The space could be configured to include an outdoor theater as an homage to the past.

    I need to understand more completely the construction rules, regulations, and process in order to address the question of expediting construction. I anticipate the City may be able to expedite development through environmental review with community amenities.

     


  • Q3: Homelessness continues to be a significant concern for residents and businesses. What approaches would you advocate the City consider in its response to this challenge?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    Homelessness is a growing issue not only for the City of Santa Maria, but also for all municipalities throughout Santa Barbara County. This is one reason I’ve made homelessness and public safety my top priorities. It’s inhumane for people to sleep on the streets. It’s also not fair for small businesses that don’t have the ability to fully operate due to encampments, as well as families who don’t feel safe walking down the street. Our coordination with County government must improve so those who are in search of services have access to them, and our law enforcement must have the tools necessary to ensure businesses can operate and families are safe.

     

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    To solve the homeless crisis, a highly concentrated and coordinated effort must occur between the public and private sectors. A perfect example was the partnership between Halsell Builders and the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County on the Cox Bungalows project that set aside low-income, special needs housing for those at risk of homelessness.

    As housing costs continue to rise, the homeless population is expected to grow. Increasing housing subsidies for residents who will face eviction is necessary to prevent homelessness. Further, we must create systems around the premise that housing is a fundamental right which is why I support the efforts of motel conversions for permanent housing for homeless individuals and funding for warp around services.

     

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    Create systems to identify the chronically homeless and match them with appropriate social services to address the core issue as to why that specific person is homeless. We need to address the mental health issues, substance abuse, or joblessness that the homeless are experiencing to get to the root cause and not only treat the consequences of those issues.

     

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    Cities and towns around the world are facing the same challenges of homelessness. The people who are homeless and unhoused are diverse and numerous, including young and old, families and individuals, employed and unemployed, residents and transients, and those with a multitude of health conditions, many with mental health and addiction problems.

    Our community has many dedicated people working through social work, mental health and addiction services, and health care. We need to continue to build coordinated relationships and partnerships, especially with County Mental Health, Public Health Dept, and County Social Services to actualize timely services in the most efficient manner. In addition, we soon hope to have an Outpatient Psychiatric Unit through Marian Regional Medical Center. By addressing trauma, mental health, and addiction, we will be able to help individuals access the care they need to encourage and allow them to live healthier, safer lives.

    For families that are homeless due to financial insecurity, access to jobs that pay a living wage along with affordable housing will provide housing stability and more.


  • Q4: Tourism is an important part of our local economy. What ideas or investments would you be willing to explore to make the City/region more attractive as a destination?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    The Central Coast is the best place to live, work and raise a family. Our climate and scenery are world-class. These things will always drive tourism, but the third spoke in that wheel is amenities. We’re lacking the amenities needed to fully realize the potential of the central coast when it comes to tourism. We have a first-rate flight museum that’s coming to Santa Maria and there are plans for Ag tourism that would highlight one of our most important industries. In short, we need to emphasize the unique qualities of our region that make this place special. We have a rich history and we need to embrace it.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The City’s continued investment in marketing the Santa Maria Valley by promoting the Central Coast wine industry is necessary to attract tourism and support our local economy. Additionally, I would like to explore public art as a means to increase tourism. Santa Maria can attract new tourism by increasing public art and providing centralized venues where the arts community can meet, create, exhibit, and perform. Wine and art make for a perfect match!

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    The City of Santa Maria is in the center of the state. The location is so valuable and we need to expand on that so that others are interested in visiting our city and boosting our local economy. Most people in large cities have not heard of Santa Maria so we need to market our local attractions and bring entertainers to perform locally so that we can market them visiting Santa Maria. Once people learn of Santa Maria and our local attractions they will return because of our beautiful weather.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    Economists agree that arts and music are two of the largest drivers in a city’s wealth. Entertainment supports local businesses with the need for hospitality and infrastructure to support the services. We have had the privilege of housing the Pacific Conservatory Theater, PCPA, for over 50 years. This venture not only provides high quality live theater, but its training programs serve our students in their careers in acting, lighting, sound, and stage production. Their reputation ensures robust employment for their graduates. The City can spotlight PCPA as it grows capacity for attracting tourism with the creation of an outdoor music venue, a center for arts and culture, and more public art.

    With the recent California mandate calling for all electric car sales by 2035, we are positioned on Highway 101 as a prime charging center. We already have established corridors to bring visitors into the City Center as well as maintaining a highway presence for those who prefer a quicker stay. I suggest we combine our traditional agricultural roots with the contemporary technology: “Farm Centers” that have local produce, food trucks as well as brick and mortar restaurants/cafes, boutique shops, and activities for the kids such as playground, petting zoo/feed the goats, and picnic area. These centers would have solar installation “microgrids” to provide the energy for the charging stations.

    Our agricultural emphasis should also include promoting Santa Maria as a Gateway to our local Valley wineries.

    I ride my bike around the City, both for leisure and to get to work. Biking gives me exercise, brightens my mood, connects me with others who are out and about, does not pollute the environment, and is fun! We have wide, flat roads: the ideal place to promote tourist biking. We could create corridors for cyclists to access our hills to the east and the beach to the west and all the flats in between. These corridors would greatly enhance our residents’ lives as well to provide safe spaces for kids and adults to move through the city.


  • Q5: Given recent increases in property and physical crimes, how would you improve public safety in our community?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    That’s simple. Provide our men and women in uniform with the tools necessary to keep our streets safe. There are some on the City Council that have a history of voting against measures to combat crime and protect residents. I’m a member of Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, and I’ve been endorsed by the Santa Maria Police Officer’s Association. They know that I’m the only candidate in this race, who understands the challenges they face, and am committed to a stronger and safer Santa Maria.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The best way to tackle public safety is through crime prevention. To increase community safety, the City must invest in resources that prevent people from becoming entangled in the criminal justice system, such as mental health services, substance abuse treatment, housing assistance, and quality education. By addressing the root causes of crime and investing in people through the strengthening of social safety nets, youth programming, recreation, and employment opportunities the City of Santa Maria can move towards healthy and safe communities.

     

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    By supporting our local law enforcement and filling the 24 open vacancies. We need to give officers good reasons to move to Santa Maria and work for the city, such as higher wages, perks and benefits.

     

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    As a physician, I always address problem-solving by gathering subjective and objective data to formulate a differential diagnosis. With further study, consultation, and reflection, I then settle on a diagnosis and create a care plan employing shared-decision making with the patient. I would approach crime with a similar lens.

    Human behavior always has an explanation. Efforts to reduce community crime should take a holistic approach to focus effort on the places with greatest needs. First of all, the areas for concentration are identified. The residents and businesses in these neighborhoods would be interviewed, consulted, and activated to participate in the process of identifying root causes and concerns. An action plan could then be forged that built solutions for the people. This requires coordination between both law enforcement and community development to improve the housing conditions, to support the area’s economic and workforce development, to enhance social connections in the neighborhoods, and to improve civic infrastructure with lighting, parks, greenery, and tidy maintenance.

    This approach has shown real success in many communities. The costs associated with these efforts would be partially offset by the cost-savings from reduced loss of property, vandalism, health-care savings from violent behaviors, and the increase business in areas of the city that were previously avoided by those outside the neighborhoods.

    Many of our children and youth live in these high crime neighborhoods. I know through my tenure on the school board that this creates adverse childhood trauma that will affect our children throughout their lives. Our local schools are trying their utmost to support these students and their families. But they need strong partnership with the City to improve the safety and security for our youth and their families.


  • Q6: Santa Maria is an increasingly diverse community. How can the City increase access to opportunities and capital to support business owners from all parts of our community?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    My family has lived in Santa Maria and the Valley for six generations. From Union Sugar and the strawberry fields to owners of small business and students at local colleges, I understand the diverse nature of our city and the complexities associated with that. We have two wonderful opportunities in our backyard between Vandenberg Space Force Base and Allan Hancock College. We can continue our work with both of them, while strengthening our relationships with the Chamber, REACH, the Trades, and other like-minded organizations to promote more technical jobs and real-world experience.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The City can increase access to opportunities by requiring development projects to reserve a portion of their floor space for small locally owned businesses, either as a condition of permitting or through developer agreements. To increase capital, the City can create economic development incentive programs that favor and foster small local businesses, especially for minority-owned businesses.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    The city should provide bilingual services in all its materials and advertisement so that everyone can have access to opportunities and capital. Due to the central location of the state, the city may apply for state and federal grants to increase access to opportunities and capital for local business owners.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    The most recent US Census in 2020 reports that over 75% of our residents identify as Hispanic, nearly 40% are foreign-born, and over 65% speak a language other than English at home. As a trustee on the Santa Maria Joint Union High School Board for nearly 16 years, I have worked consistently to build relationships with parents and guardians to forge partnerships in the education of students. As an OBGYN Hospitalist at Marian Regional Medical Center and a gynecologist at the Santa Barbara County Women’s Health Center in Santa Maria, I have been committed to providing all patients with high quality, compassionate expert health care through trusting relationships. The key to building these relationships hinges on meaningful communication.

    I would support efforts by the Council to create a Task Force on Equity to better understand the needs of the people who make up a majority of the residents but have not had access to civic engagement. The community’s residents all have rich cultural backgrounds that provide the context to engage business. By providing resources for all business owners to understand processes and procedures for establishing and maintaining business through support with language translation services, cultural understanding, and education of business strategies, our city will grow its economy throughout the Valley.


  • Q7: Ensuring the community attracts and retains a highly qualified workforce is critical to our long-term economic success. What strategies can the City support to ensure the community embraces diversity in order to grow economic and cultural vitality?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    Previous to my last answer. Now is the time. We have a number of opportunities through the base, manufacturing and a rich history of Ag in the Valley to attract large companies. We can create long-term, high-paying jobs through incentives. These employers will invest in the community and help to memorialize the history of our region.

      

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The City can support economic growth by uplifting the cultural vitality and diversity that exists by sponsoring community events, like Downtown Fridays, Pride Festivals, and Fiesta Patrias. Another way that the City can embrace diversity and inclusion is through language access. Making the City meetings more accessible by eliminating language barriers and providing interpretation will increase engagement and allow all community members to engage in their local government authentically.

     

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    The city should focus on and provide services that are inclusive. The city should provide diversity training to all its employees. The city should focus on hiring young people who can provide activities, entertainment, and events that are full of pop culture. This will help the young people in the city become engaged in the local economy and politics. The city may want to follow the lead of other cities in the United States that have large Hispanic populations, have a developed downtown and the local economy is thriving such as such Ventura, Los Angles, Dallas, El Paso etc. We need to have a cultured downtown so that homegrown talent can stay in Santa Maria and we can attract and retain local talent.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    I would primarily focus on our school systems. Our local school districts have had tremendous growth of enrollment simultaneously with a recognition that children can effectively learn only after their physical and emotional needs are met. The majority of students have these needs met at home, but for others, the schools serve as the proxy. This complex endeavor requires that all school staff support comprehensive student services, without compromising high expectations for academic achievement.

    With the tremendous support of our local business community, SMJUHSD has built the state-of-the-art Mark Richardson Career Technical Education Center and Ag Farm located by the Elks Rodeo Grounds. The belief statement for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is “where greatness grows”. We strive to provide every student with the ability to enter young adulthood with the opportunity to engage in higher education or enter the workforce with a skill set that provides financial security and personal fulfillment.

    Hancock College is a strong community college. I believe we should seriously investigate the possibility of building Cal State Santa Maria here in this Valley or partnering with a close community in our local region to house a new Cal State University. University is extremely expensive for most families. If our local youth had the ability to obtain bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees while living at home, we would be able to increase and retain professionals who actually live and work in our city.

    Too many of our local professionals live outside of the Valley, most in San Luis County. Close proximity to universities elevates the business opportunities to attract technology, science, and other robust growth industries. Higher education likewise builds cultural communities for entertainment, arts and lecture series, and professional speakers. The infrastructure to support the University provides dependable employment for locals.

    I am very excited about AT Stills University establishing a school site here. I had the opportunity to give a lecture to the Physician Assistant students and tour the school facilities. I also serve as a clinical instructor for their third year medical students who rotate through Marian’s specialty services.

    Marian Regional Medical Center has two accredited medical residency programs: Family Medicine and OBGYN. I serve as a clinical instructor for both programs. Our Valley has benefited greatly from these programs as we have many physicians who decide to make their careers here thus increasing our capacity to meet healthcare needs. Furthermore, the addition of the academic program in our clinical work improves best practices and evidence-based care for our patients. You have probably noticed the highway billboards regarding Marian’s status as Healthgrade’s top 250 Best Hospitals in the country.

    The City of Santa Maria has major challenges based on the demographics of I believe approximately 30% of residents at low and very low income levels and its location in the center of a highly productive agricultural valley. However, with strong leadership and meaningful community input, it can increase its desirability as a livable community attracting clean industry with high paying jobs while also meeting the needs of the existing residents. Its location midway between Santa Barbara and SLO and in the heart of prestigious wine country are features that will be increasingly valued by new residents as the City proceeds with its objective of “promoting a balanced and functional mix of land uses consistent with community values.”

    The City has a well -earned reputation of working well with private developers and can continue to do so but can do a better job of conditioning projects to provide community amenities which will benefit existing and future residents alike.


  • Q8: The City’s current budget includes significant infrastructure investments, including in our local roads and public transit. How would you ensure that infrastructure (roads, transit, technology, water, waste treatment, etc.) supports continued economic growth?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    Kids ride bikes in the streets, residents drive and use the sidewalks for recreation, and business owners depend on our roads to transport their goods and services to their employees. Quality roads and infrastructure are imperative for a vibrant community. How you accomplish this goal is through commitment. Our city must dedicate itself to road maintenance, infrastructure, and a plan for long-term water supply. We have the resources and the know-how, and the taxpayers deserve it.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    Infrastructure investment substantially impacts local economic growth, as it increases property value, attracts foot traffic, and can create better work environments. To ensure continued economic growth, I will push to increase the interconnectivity of the City through bike lanes and reliable public transit. Further, as the City continues to grow, so will the need for improved infrastructure with our broadband, wastewater treatment, and landfill. I will work to ensure that these infrastructure improvements do not hinder economic prosperity for Santa Marians but rather improve their quality of life.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    We need to invest a big part of the city budget in improving our infrastructure, keeping local roads safe (fixing potholes), investing in transit technology, and continuing to support economic development. Economic development brings money to develop or waste treatment and water systems.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    The SMJUHSD board and governance team has had an impressive facility plan over my tenure with the addition of new classroom buildings, administrative offices, District Performing Arts Center, and CTE/AgFarm along with modernization of many other facilities. We have installed solar panels with our energy plan and have saved tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs due to the locally manufactured energy and our energy efficiency program. In this same light (pun intended), I support a robust City Energy Plan to build solar into existing and new structures, parking lot shades, and research into the possibility of creating our own microgrid to provide for local energy needs.

    Internet access has joined power and water as essential basic needs to conduct business at home, at school, and at workplace. I would support the prior efforts at providing high speed internet access throughout the city.

    Our city roads have become increasingly more congested with the population growth. I would advocate for creating safe biking corridors for transport to school, to work, and to shopping. We could partner with the cycling industry to host electric bikes for rent as well as programs to bring affordable electric bike products to our residents. Research has shown that safety for pedestrians and cyclists improves when their numbers are large and their presence is consistent in mixed traffic settings with autos. The safest routes are obviously separate from the car traffic. We could use recycled paint to mark street routes where cyclists share the road.

    Our city should promote water conservation with public messaging regarding low flow plumbing/appliances and leak remediation, public property hardscaping where appropriate, use of reclaimed/recycled greywater for irrigation. Waste management requires a comprehensive approach both at avoidance of the production of waste and the ecologically conscious disposal. I told my children when they were little kids, “You cannot throw anything away. There is no away. The planet is a closed ecological system.” I support a bold plan at helping our Valley to approach a Zero Waste Goal. This requires using products that are biodegradable or reusable. Residents need easy access to aluminum recycling for reclaiming the redemption fee. We need to educate our children and youth as well as many adults about the importance of avoiding food waste, a significant waste of resources. There are several universities around the country that have created their own plastic recycling programs; perhaps our city can too.


  • Q9: Access to affordable quality housing continues to be a challenge in Santa Maria and our region. What strategies would you support the City pursuing to address this need?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    Many of the affordable housing mandates come down from the state level and it’s the council’s job to implement state orders and ensure new housing developments address local needs, while adhering to the city plan.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    To combat the housing affordability crisis, I propose extending our rent voucher program for renters and establishing a housing trust fund. A housing trust fund would provide ongoing dedicated public funding sources to support the preservation and production of affordable housing and increase opportunities for families and individuals to access affordable housing through grants, loans, lines of credit, or rental assistance.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    I would support projects that have an affordable housing aspect to them.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    I am still learning about the various approaches to this and the obstacles that communities face. I would think that mixed use high density housing, located near schools and amenities like grocery stores as well as public open space parks, would provide families with affordable housing. There can be parking problems with high density housing, so providing access to public transit and bike routes would encourage people to use alternate forms of transportation. Redevelopment of low density housing into medium density would also grow capacity.


  • Q10: Access to childcare services is a serious challenge for working families. What strategies would you support the City exploring to support the expansion of affordable, quality childcare services?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    As the father of two girls, husband to a special needs teacher, and Chair of the Elks Antlers program, I understand the challenges and needs associated with childcare. I look forward to using my experience and working with existing organizations, programs, and community leaders to address these needs and develop solutions that not only work for parents, but also most importantly our children – the future of our community.

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges of our working-class families. Even before the pandemic, families struggled to enroll in adequate and affordable childcare. During my next four years, I will propose a Youth Fund, a Fund set aside to support families in securing childcare and early childhood education our families in Santa Maria. I will work across the aisle to dedicate 5% of our General Fund City budget to the Youth Fund.

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    I would support applying for grants to have training for people who are interested in providing childcare services so that we can increase the number of affordable and qualified daycare providers in the city. Having an increased number of daycare providers will drive up competition and possibly lower cost.

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    The City could provide early childhood education classes by partnering with local elementary schools that are embarking on their own mandate to provide transitional kindergarten at all school sites. The state plan is to expand to public preschool. I believe that preschool can effectively be housed in childcare centers and private homes that have had formal adequate training and instruction.

    With the Census data, we can identify the areas of the city with the greatest need for childcare. In those neighborhoods, we can streamline permitting for small residential childcare centers that would provide safe, affordable, enriching care and education that are easily accessed by parents before and after work.

    For older children, the Parks and Rec could grow their afterschool programs throughout the city by partnering with school sites to provide staffing for these programs. Local businesses could also help to subsidize childcare for their employees, a benefit that would have a great potential to increase productivity, maintain employment, and reduce absenteeism.

    Research shows that when childcare is consistently provided in communities, women’s capacity as business owners and as employees increases dramatically. Consequently, the entire family benefits with greater economic stability, improved education completion for the children, and improved health for the family due to better nutrition and access to healthcare.

     


  • Q11: Excessive regulation, delays due to inconsistent or unpredictable procedures, arbitrary requirements, increased exposure to litigation, and special assessments, taxes or fees represent considerable added costs and deter investment. How can the City ensure its ordinances, regulations, and processes are efficient, effective, and not overly burdensome for employers?

  • District 3 - Steven Funkhouser District 3 - Steven Funkhouser

    As a business owner I’m familiar with results of misguided regulations in the state of California. In fact some of the regulations and laws that have declassified crimes and facilitated the release of criminals within our community have had a direct impact on my family’s business. These are unintended consequences, but they have real impacts on our daily life.

    What we can do to challenge some of these policies that hinder our families’ ability to invest in their business while providing a service to our community and fulfilling their lifelong dream is work within the parameter of state policy and develop a system that encourages entrepreneurship..

    District 3 - Gloria Soto District 3 - Gloria Soto

    The best way to ensure that the City’s ordinances, regulations, and processes benefit residents and business owners is by engaging them in the conversation and listening.

     

    District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez District 4 - Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez

    The city can develop streamlined procedures to avoid delays which cost time and money. The city can create ordinances and regulations that are consistent and efficient. Efficiency and transparency are very important when developing new ordinances because if the applicants know what the city expects and how long the process will take, it allows them to save time and money that they can reinvest in our community.

     

    District 4 - Carol Karamitsos District 4 - Carol Karamitsos

    I was a small business owner in Santa Maria for many years when I was in private practice OBGYN. I understand the challenges facing small business owners who do not have the scale and the profit margins that larger corporations enjoy.

    I have also been a trustee on the SMJUHSD board for the past 16 years. In the trustee capacity, I have come to understand the importance of dynamic leadership – the need to have a helicopter view of the workings of the organization, the need to respect and address the needs and wishes of the stakeholders, the character to work in concert with the governance team to create policy and set direction that advances the shared goals of the community, and the importance of being smart with decision-making. If the Council as a whole acts together to be a wise and responsive governance team, then the city as a whole benefits, including employers. Employers put food on people’s tables, roofs over their heads, and money in their pockets.

    Our economy is built on a capitalistic philosophy. Our government is built on democratic principles. The two are sometimes seemingly in opposition. I promise to help build bridges to be able to reach consensus to advance the welfare of the City of Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Valley. The City Council must support good community development by supporting the Community Development Department and its management and by keeping the General Plan up to date. A thoughtful, comprehensive Program EIR is the best way to streamline development, provide developer certainty, eliminate excessive and arbitrary regulation.