Since he’s running for Santa Barbara mayor against four current or former politicians, former Deckers Brands top executive Angel Martinez said July 25 that he considers his lack of ever holding a public elective office “an asset.”
Clad in a teal long-sleeved cotton shirt, white pants and a baseball cap, Martinez spoke to a crowd of about 100 on the patio of the downtown Impact Hub in what appeared to be his first campaign event ahead of the November city election.
Martinez decried city leaders whom he said he would not hire. He railed against the situation on State Street on issues such as homelessness and empty retail storefronts. He said the city should first help the homeless who were local residents and had fallen on hard times. Then, he said, a solution needs to be found to aid the mentally ill and keep transient panhandlers away.
Martinez said he could relate to the plight of the homeless because after coming to this country from Cuba at the age of 3, his family lived in the South Bronx in New York. He said he used to be paid 25 cents for each taxi he could whistle down.
However, as a Santa Barbara resident for the past 15 years, Martinez said city leaders are missing vision and leadership. He said the city is in a critical moment fiscally and he “is not going to take it lightly.”
Martinez said he has looked at the city’s $650 million budget and said the current leadership “doesn’t know a spread sheet from a cookie sheet.” He said this has left him “a little pissed off.”
As for State Street, Martinez said the city has allowed the commercial corridor to become more of an attraction for tourists than for local shoppers. That has led to a sharp decline in sales tax revenues that won’t allow the city to fund new municipal building projects other needed maintenance.
He said he’s not in favor of the proposed 1 percent city sales tax increase because it would not bring in the needed revenue if local retail continues to decline. A bond would be preferable, he has said.
Some years back, Martinez said the city of Santa Barbara forced Deckers to move to Goleta because of its many restrictions on his $1.7 billion in revenue company. “That arbitrariness is the norm” and does not bode well for Santa Barbara.
Martinez is running against current city council members Cathy Murillo, Frank Hotchkiss and Bendy White as well as former mayor Hal Conklin. The election is Nov. 7.