The filing period for the mayor and some council races closed Friday in Buellton and Solvang, but other races remain open until Wednesday.
Under state law, the filing period to be a candidate in the Nov. 6 General Election closed Friday unless an incumbent had not filed for re-election by that day, which extended the filing period another five days.
The mayor’s seat in both Solvang and Buellton are up for election, and while Buellton’s mayor is a shoo-in with no opposition, Solvang’s mayor will face his first opponent for the job in eight years.
Four council seats are open in Buellton, but only three will be on the ballot for Solvang.
Solvang’s first directly elected mayor and the longest-serving mayor in the county, Jim Richardson, will face his first opponent in eight years in his re-election bid, but his challenger is a fellow council member — Ryan Toussaint.
“My last opponent was in 2010,” said Richardson, who has tried to scare up someone to run against him in the last few elections to break what he’s referred to as “citizen apathy.”
“The thing is, I have an opponent,” he said, clearly pleased. “He’s a bright guy. I already discussed it with him, and we agreed to run a clean campaign.”
Because Richardson is seeking re-election, the filing period for mayor closed Friday.
Two four-year council seats are open, and incumbent Joan Jamieson has filed for re-election. But since Neill Zimmerman chose not to seek re-election to his four-year seat, the filing period will remain open until Wednesday.
As of Friday morning, only one other person — Robert Clarke — had returned nomination papers to run for a four-year seat. Kim K. Jensen pulled papers for the seat but had not returned them yet.
Another seat up for election carries a two-year term, as it was filled by appointee Karen Waite after former Councilman Hans Duus moved out of the city and had to resign less than a year after being re-elected.
Waite, who unsuccessfully campaigned for the council in 2016, has filed for election to her seat and will be challenged by Edwin H. Skytt, a former councilman who chose not to seek re-election in 2016.
Six other people pulled papers for the council without specifying the term, but one of those withdrew.
The five who had not returned their papers as of noon Friday are Niels C. Djernaes, Gay Infanti, Denise El Amin, Darryl Scheck and Kenny “Esko” Lama.
All four of Buellton’s incumbents filed papers for an election that is unprecedented in the city’s history.
The mayor’s two-year seat, two four-year council seats and two two-year council seats will be on the ballot when citizens go to the polls Nov. 6.
As of Thursday afternoon, Mayor Holly Sierra was apparently running unopposed in her bid for re-election.
“It’s unlikely anyone could pull papers (Friday) and get them back to us in one day,” City Clerk Linda Reid said.
Incumbent Ed Andrisek, appointed council members Art Mercado and Dave King and challenger Judith Dale have all filed papers for election to two open four-year seats.
One other person — John K. Dorwin — pulled papers for a four-year seat but had not returned them as of Friday morning.
Whoever places third in the number of votes for the four-year seats in November will take one of the open two-year seats.
Four people pulled papers for the remaining two years of Foster Reif’s four-year seat, but only one — Elysia Lewis — had filed her papers as of Friday morning.
Those who pulled papers for the seat but hadn’t returned them were Megan DeCicco, Andrew John Sanchez and Robyn Albrecht Caplan.
Buellton’s unusual situation of having an entire council up for election was created by a combination of factors, including the city’s switch to a directly elected mayor two years ago and the resignation of three council members last year.
Buellton holds elections every two years on an even-year cycle, and since being incorporated as a city in 1992, its residents have elected three council members one election year and two council members two years later.
Council members then chose who would serve as mayor from among themselves, generally in a rotation cycle.
But in 2014, residents voted to directly elect a mayor every two years, and Sierra became the first directly elected mayor in November 2016.
That changed the election cycle by having the mayor’s and one council member’s seat on the ballot one election year, as was the case in 2016, and the mayor’s and three council members’ seats on the ballot two years later, which would have been the case this year.
To even out the positions elected, the City Council modified the cycle so the mayor and two council members would be elected every two years.
However, that change meant one of the three council members elected this year would have to serve a two-year term, rather than the regular four-year term, to even out the election cycle from this year forward.
Council members decided the one of the three elected who garnered the fewest number of votes would serve the two-year term.
But that solution was complicated by three council members resigning in 2017 because they moved out of the city.
The council appointed members to replace the first two who left, but after making an appointment to fill the third vacancy, city officials realized state law prohibits councils from making three appointments in a year.
Rather than calling for a costly special election within an election year, the council chose to fill that seat for the two years remaining on the term in the Nov. 6 election, thus setting the stage for the mayor’s and all four City Council seats to be up for election at the same time.