Santa Barbara House candidate tries to prove maxim: All politics is local

  • Traffic — it’s everywhere. And one candidate in Santa Barbara County wants to widen Highway 101 to give residents some relief. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Congress may be one of the world’s great deliberative bodies, deciding questions of national and international import. Problem is, that often isn’t what gets someone elected. That’s why Justin Fareed, a Republican congressional candidate in Santa Barbara, is running on an issue that does get the local voters stirred up: widening Highway 101.

“For far too long, politicians have used U.S. Highway 101 as a pawn in their bids for election and re-election,” Fareed, who is seeking a rematch of his 2016 loss to Democratic Rep. Salud Carbajal, said in a campaign email. “I will work to ensure your tax dollars are spent the way they were proposed.”

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said that “All politics is local,” and in Santa Barbara County, it doesn’t get more local — or more political — than the fight over Highway 101, the region’s main north-south artery.

In 2008, county voters approved a $1 billion sales tax hike for a variety of transportation projects, including one that would widen Highway 101 from Santa Barbara south to Carpinteria. Yet a decade later, motorists still sit and fume in highway gridlock, waiting none too patiently for the long-promised relief.

That’s the local part.

As for the politics, it’s no coincidence that one of the people in the middle of the original battle with Caltrans over the details of the still uncompleted project was then-Santa Barbara County Supervisor Carbajal.

“My opponent has played both sides of the fence on this,” Fareed said, “yet he wants you to believe he’s fighting to deliver results.”

A spokeswoman for Carbajal said Friday the congressman was a leader in the 2008 ballot measure drive and has fought…

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