ELLA JENSEN Executive Leadership Team Member
Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo visited San Marcos on Thursday, February 11th, to discuss her career and local legislation with the students in Mr. Ohrn’s Law and Society class. Murillo was elected for her second, four-year term in November of 2015. She is a liberal Democrat who serves for District 3 in Santa Barbara, and says her focus is on improving the lives of minorities and underprivileged families.
She began her visit with Mr. Ohrn’s class by sharing her personal and professional history. Murillo explained that before becoming a local politician, she wrote for the Santa Barbara News Press and The Independent, and was always intrigued by the workings of local politics.
In her first term on the council, she proved to be extremely liberal. While she assisted in the passing of many laws, she claims she will get more laws passed in her second term because she has more of a say and can be more assertive. She serves on the Ordinance Committee, New Zoning Ordinance Committee, and the Sustainability Council Committee in the City Council. She explained that the ‘real’ work gets done in committee meetings, not at City Council meetings.
Murillo went on to explain the makeup of the City Council and how meetings are run. The Mayor, plus 6 other City Council members from their respective districts, make decisions involving laws and legislation in Santa Barbara. She serves alongside Jason Dominguez, Frank Hotchkiss, Bendy White, Greg Hart, and Randy Rowse. They work together at weekly city council meetings at 2:00pm every Tuesday at City Hall. Murillo, along with her colleagues, are working to move the meetings to a more accessible time for working people.
In weeks to come, the City Council is looking to find a new Chief of Police and reform the Police Department by improving training and hiring more Spanish-speaking officers. The police force is controlled by the SB Planning Commission, but City Council can put pressure on decisions relating to nominations.
Her current focus relates to the growing bicycle community. Murillo is hoping to create bicycle lanes entirely separate from the streets, resembling Europe. She believes this will decrease Santa Barbara’s carbon footprint and promote healthy living among residents.
Murillo noted that she is focusing on improving the lives of undocumented immigrant families and decreasing penalties for minor misdemeanors. She encourages local teens to keep involved with politics because politics directly control their lives.
“Read the news, consume the news,” said Murillo. “It’s the best way to involve yourself in politics.”
At the conclusion of her visit, she invited Mr. Ohrn’s students to attend the weekly meeting and participate in local political events.