Williams to run for Assembly
By COLBY FRAZIER — April 2, 2009
Less than a month after organizing an exploratory committee to probe his chances at winning the State Assembly’s 35th District seat, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Das Williams yesterday said he’s decided to officially enter the race.
The 34 year old, who is serving his final term on the city council and will be termed out in 2011, said his political career is at a crossroads: in one direction, he said retirement awaits, and in the other, the State Assembly.
“I’ve searched my heart to see if I can continue serving this community or if I should retire, and the way I can continue serving this community is to run for the assembly,” he said. “I feel I have more to give.”
As it stands, Williams will square off against Democratic colleague and friend, Susan Jordan, who is married to current 35th District Assemblymember Pedro Nava. Nava will be termed out next year.
When Jordan, 57, declared her intent to seek the seat a few months ago, Williams initially said he’d support her campaign.
But in January, after the duo fell on different sides of a controversial offshore oil drilling project, rumors swirled that Williams was considering entering the race.
Those rumors solidified in early February when 1st District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal announced he would “enthusiastically support” Williams if he decided to run.
Now it’s official, and so far, Williams said he’s received an outpouring of support from the community.
“I got an overwhelming response,” he said. “The people don’t want me to retire in 2011 and want me to continue serving.”
Williams, a teacher at Antioch University who at one time taught middle school in Los Angeles, decried recent cuts to public education, saying he doesn’t feel there are enough people at the state level defending education.
“It’s something that as a teacher I’m really passionate about,” he said.
If he’s elected, Williams also said he’d like to champion alternative energy causes, an arena he’s had success in at the city level.
A longtime environmentalist, women’s rights activist and former business leader who founded the California Coastal Protection Network, Jordan said she feels having two Democrats on the ticket will strengthen the Democratic process.
“Elections are kind of the bedrock of our democracy. It’s the one place where voters really get a chance to see how candidates feel about the issues they care about,” she said. “I don’t feel having another candidate in the race is a negative thing, it’s a positive thing.”
Jordon, who has never been elected to a public office, said she feels her more than three decades of working with the political process has adequately prepared her for a seat in the State Assembly.
“I think being effective in this role is being able to listen to people, being open minded and committing yourself as hard as possible to address the challenges of the day,” she said. “I believe I’m very well equipped to hit the ground running.”
The Republican side of the ticket remains empty. The primary election is still 14 months away. If Williams wins the seat, it will cut his final term on the city council short by a year.