Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dem picnic kicks off election season


Under bright blue skies boasting balmy weather in sharp contrast to the hurricane in the Southeast that led to the curtailing of the opening of the Republican National Convention in Minnesota, Santa Barbara County Democrats held their annual Labor Day picnic barbecue to launch the fall campaigns.

Gathering in Oak Park, a crowd estimated at 250 heard their elected representatives and candidates lambaste President Bush, Republican presidential nominee John McCain and his newly selected running mate, Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, as well as local Republicans running for office.
“Everyone’s excited about the presidential race, but our job is to get people excited and let them know about how important some of the down-ticket races are, both for the county and for implementing (Democratic presidential nominee) Barack Obama’s vision for the country,” said Daraka Larimore-Hall, the chairman of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party. “We have a lot of work to do. We can’t take any race for granted.”
After munching on a picnic dinner featuring barbecued chicken, two kinds of bean salad, garlic bread, veggie burgers and hot dogs and a variety of desserts, those in attendance hunkered down to listen to about an hour’s worth of speeches from local Democratic politicians. Among those speaking were County Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Janet Wolf and former Supervisor Susan Rose, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, City Councilmember Das Williams, current State Assemblymember Pedro Nava and former member Hannah-Beth Jackson who is now running for the State Senate, Congresswoman Lois Capps, and supervisor candidate Doreen Farr.
Nearly all of the speakers took time to rally the troops to support, work and vote for the presidential ticket of Obama and Senator Joseph Biden. Williams said he was proud to be a member of a party that didn’t have to “go to Alaska to find a woman” to run with, and he pointed out that Gov. Palin, McCain’s choice for Vice-President, was formerly mayor of a community in Alaska that is smaller than Ojai.
But most of the speakers also focused on local issues, particularly the controversial decision just last Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors to send a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger announcing the county’s willingness to embrace offshore drilling.
Farr galvanized the crowd with her remarks that the vote would have been different had she already been on board with the Supervisors.
“If we ever had an example of the power of just one vote, this was it,” said Farr, who captured a leading 35 percent of the vote last June to earn a runoff against Steve Pappas in November. “We must tell the state Santa Barbara County does not want more drilling for oil.”
It was a sentiment echoed by the day’s final speaker, Nava, who told the crowd that the last piece of business conducted by the Assembly in Sacramento last week was to pass his resolution opposing drilling off the California coast.
“It was to tell President Bush to stick it where the sun don’t shine,” he said. “In other words, we don’t support drilling off our coast.”
Williams reminded the audience that it takes more than rallying cries to effect change.
“We can have lots of nice speeches,” he said. “But to make it happen we need to bother you, and have you bother other people, because that’s how you get people to actually vote.”

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