Bruce Porter announced Wednesday that he’s running for the 3rd District seat on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors before a crowd of about 50 relatives and other supporters at Sunny Fields Park in Solvang.
This will mark the 65-year-old Santa Ynez businessman’s second bid to represent the 3rd District, and if elected, he pledged to reform policies that make it difficult to live and work in Santa Barbara County.
“Right now, your voice is not being heard in front of the County Board of Supervisors,” Porter told the crowd. “That’s why I’m running for 3rd District supervisor — to give you a voice in the ways of our county.
“With your voice, we can improve our schools and improve the communities where we live, work and play,” he continued. “We really need to restore that level of confidence that we have in our own county government.”
Porter said county leaders have made it overly difficult for small businesses to thrive and contribute to the local economy, forced schools to make cuts to classroom staff and programming and driven one of the county’s oldest school districts into bankruptcy.
Porter said he plans to explore new ways to generate revenue to replenish funding for agencies and services that were cut to balance the budget, and he said he will address the backlog of road and infrastructure projects in a fiscally sound way.
“I’ve spent the great majority of my life in service to my country and neighbors,” Porter said. “I am committed to continuing that service as your county supervisor, bringing practical solutions and public input to county decisions.”
A West Point graduate, Porter served 25 years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, leading troops into combat in Desert Storm and protecting the desert tortoise in the Mojave Desert, before retiring as a colonel at the end of 2001, according to information from his campaign staff.
Since relocating to the Santa Ynez Valley, he has served as president of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Board of Education and chairman of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
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He was also involved in the Santa Ynez Valley Aquatics Foundation effort to install a community Olympic pool at the high school and currently sits on the board of trustees for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Porter campaigned for the 3rd District seat in 2016 after former supervisor Doreen Farr chose not to seek re-election.
He emerged from a field of five in the June Primary with Buellton resident and then-Planning Commissioner Joan Hartmann for a runoff in the November General Election.
In that race, Porter took an early lead through the vote-by-mail ballots, but as the precincts reported in, Hartmann gradually pulled ahead to win with 53.5% of the ballots cast to Porter’s 46.3%.
Since then, however, some Valley residents have expressed dissatisfaction with some of Hartmann’s decisions, particularly on cannabis regulations and the agreement with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians for development of the Camp 4 property.
However, the 3rd District is the largest and most diverse in the county and extends far beyond Santa Ynez Valley, extending south to encompass Goleta and Isla Vista and reaching north to include Guadalupe.
Hartmann has not yet officially announced plans to seek re-election.
In the 2016 election, the more liberal areas of Isla Vista, Goleta and UC Santa Barbara formed a key battleground, ultimately delivering most of their votes to Hartmann.
This story has been updated to correct the percentages of votes in the 2016 election.