By DAVID MINSKY, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
January 4, 2018 7:07 AM
Susan Epstein, a member of the Goleta School Board, announced late Tuesday that she’ll be running to fill the Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisorial seat vacated by Janet Wolf.
Ms. Wolf, who was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2006, announced last November that she won’t be seeking a fourth term. Like Ms. Epstein, Ms. Wolf was also a former member of the Goleta School Board. Ms. Epstein will be running for election on June 5. Ms. Epstein describes herself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.
A native of Southern California, Ms. Epstein studied computer science at Stanford University before going on to earn a law degree from the University of Chicago. With the exception of the three years she spent in the Windy City, Ms. Epstein has lived her entire life in California, including 18 years in the Goleta Valley.
With her law degree, Ms. Epstein practiced corporate and intellectual property law at Bay Area Cooley Godward, now known as Cooley LLC.
She said she came into elected office different than many, in the sense that she didn’t have some sort of “beef” with a school or other elected members. Members of the local parent teacher organization, her future constituents, came to her instead.
“They came to me because El Rancho School had recently been closed and morale was really low over that,” Ms. Epstein said.
With a background in computers and data, Ms. Epstein said she brings an analytic perspective to the Board. But that doesn’t mean she’s a go-it-alone person, she added. She prefers to work with others.
“Everyone brings different strengths,” Ms. Epstein told the News-Press. “I like to look at data and make science-based decisions. I listen to people from all perspectives.”
Ms. Epstein praised Ms. Wolf for her leadership on emergency preparedness, which she said was apparent during the Thomas Fire and wants to build on it, such as bringing her tech background into the picture.
She wants to work with Southern California Edison to improve the electrical grid when it comes to natural disasters like fires. Specifically, she wants to upgrade the electrical grid to include “micro-grids.”
This way, she said, certain areas can be isolated while others will be able to retain power in the event of a major wildfire. She said it’s a plan that’ll protect the grid and help create jobs.”
Ms. Epstein said she is committed to protecting and enhancing environment. In 2013, she was voted the Cox Communications Environmental Hero for eliminating pesticides in 120 acres of playing fields. Ms. Epstein is a member of the County’s Eastern Goleta Valley Community Wildfire Protection Plan development team.
According to Ms. Epstein, she has already received the endorsement of several high-profile democrats, including State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson; three former supervisors including Doreen Farr, Susan Rose, and Gail Marshall; Goleta City Councilmembers Kyle Richards and Stuart Kasdin; Santa Barbara City Councilmember elect Kristen Sneddon; retired County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone and retired County Auditor-Controller Bob Geis.
She told the News-Press that she was unsure of elected office at first, but three terms on the school board later, she realized she’s made an impact.
“People stop me in the grocery store and tell me about their problems,” she said. “I make a phone call and things get solved. It really feels good to help people.”