Take Back Santa Cruz co-founder launches council run: Pamela Comstock has backing of key trio

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/28/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A founding member of the public safety advocacy group Take Back Santa Cruz has announced her bid for City Council, a move that instantly drew support from key leaders.

Pamela Comstock, 40, who along with husband Craig and other relatives formed Take Back Santa Cruz in 2009, will seek one of four open council seats in the Nov. 6 contest. The software executive who has organized safety marches and drug den cleanups has backing from a trio of neo-progressive council members whose 2010 victories helped to train the city’s focus on safety and the economy.

Vice Mayor Hilary Bryant and Councilmembers Lynn Robinson and David Terrazas have endorsed Comstock, a 30-year resident who serves on the city’s Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women. Robinson said she believes Comstock can parlay activism into government service.

“She is a woman of action who can really step in and make a difference for our city,” said Robinson, who herself entered politics after co-founding Santa Cruz Neighbors. “The real beauty of (grassroots advocacy) is you start working with the community and instantly you collectively communicate the need to step up and work with government and those who can help you make a change.”

Take Back Santa Cruz co-founder and spokeswoman Analicia Cube said the group does not make political endorsements but that individual members strongly back Comstock’s run. Cube is a cousin of Comstock’s husband, and Cube’s husband, sister and brother-in-law are also founders of the group, which has more than 4,200 members on Facebook.

Although the group has been criticized by some as lacking compassion for the homeless and transient population, Comstock said she supports the city continuing to fund shelter and meals “But I also believe in personal responsibility,” she said, adding that she would support background checks for people who receive services and triple fines for crimes committed in city parks.

Comstock has eyed a council run for several years, feeling citizens focused on bringing more business to town and boosting public safety were largely unrepresented on the council until now. Before going to work for Antares Audio Technologies, a Scotts Valley company that makes the Auto-Tune software, Comstock owned the now-closed Lollipops, a children’s clothing and furniture store in Gateway Plaza.

“Our economic vitality relies on job creation,” she said. “The business community should be viewed as a valued partner and a key to the longterm success of the city.”

Comstock wants the city to streamline the business permitting process and create a local business advisory panel to provide guidance to the council rather than hire high-priced consultants. She also encourages town hall-style meetings where the public can interact with city leaders on a wide variety of topics rather than be restricted to two or three minutes of remarks during council meetings.

“People are our greatest resource and will go along way to help us solve whatever problems we’re facing,” she said.

As for a proposed seawater desalination plant to boost water supply, which will be a major council issue during the next four years, Comstock said she is glad voters will get to weigh in before the project is built.

“I don’t think anyone is excited about desal, but we have to look at our longterm infrastructure,” she said.

Comstock has also been endorsed by outgoing Councilman Ryan Coonerty. Other candidates are resident Craig Bush, carpenter Jake Fusari, Mayor Don Lane, former mayor Cynthia Mathews, Transportation and Public Works Commissioner Richelle Noroyan, nonprofit director Cece Pinheiro, volunteer Steve Pleich and alternative transportation activist Micah Posner.