The crowded 24th: A long line of candidates wants Lois Capps' seat in the House



The crowd is thick in the race for U.S. Rep. Lois Capps’ (D-Santa Barbara) seat representing the 24th Congressional District. The district includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and a small part of Ventura County.

Nine candidates are officially running, but—if you follow the money—Capps is holding her incumbent head well above the rest of the political hopefuls. She has $1.3 million in her campaign coffers, while the closest fundraiser is Republican Justin Fareed, who has managed to collect almost $225,000 from his supporters.

With only a few weeks to go before the June 3 primary election, here’s the quick skinny on the nine candidates—in no particular order, except for who called back first.

Steve Isakson, Independent

Campaign money is a non-issue for Steve Isakson of Atascadero. What is important to him is an emphasis on the issues, which is also why he doesn’t align himself to one particular party.

“If I associate myself with one of the parties, then I’m to some extent saying that I support their platform,” Isakson said. “I am a party unto myself.” 

On immigration/labor shortages: He said he could see “some sort of a pass” being created for undocumented immigrants who have been working in the U.S. and don’t have a criminal record, adding that labor laws should be more strictly enforced. 

On energy/oil: “I’d like to move toward more environmentally sound resources in the long run.” He said he’s heard enough negatives about hydraulic fracturing that he believes the practice should be put on hold until more studies are completed about its environmental ramifications. 

On the Affordable Care Act: To be successful, Isakson said the Affordable Care Act must be fully implemented, rather than rolled out one portion at a time. Eventually he believes the intents of the act will be realized, health-care costs will go down, and the less fortunate will have insurance.

On job creation/economy: “At the federal level, there’s a limit to what you can do … job formation is largely a local issue,” he said. But he added that the country needs to stop moving jobs overseas and figure out a way to keep businesses at home. 

To read more about Isakson’s take on the issues, visit


Paul Coyne, Democrat

Paul Coyne considers himself a conservative (Blue Dog) Democrat, which he said means he’s more fiscally conservative than others in his party.  

“Fiscal responsibility has been largely ignored,” Coyne said. “My focus is on job creation and the economy, to be honest with you, not health care, not social issues.”

On immigration/labor shortages: The borders are too porous, Coyne said, so first, he believes the U.S. needs to step up border protection. He thinks there should be legislation put in place that establishes a guest-worker program as well as a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S.

On energy/oil: “I do not support offshore drilling … the community as a whole has spoken strongly about this,” Coyne said. “That being said, I am in support of continued exploration of the Monterey shale.” But he added that support is for companies who drill extract oil without using hydraulic fracturing. 

On the Affordable Care Act: “Philosophically, I agree with the Affordable Care Act,” Coyne said. But he thinks the federal government did a poor job of rolling it out. He also added that before any changes are made to the law, research needs to be done on the law’s effects—i.e. did health insurance costs go down? Who’s benefiting?

On job creation/economy: Coyne supports deregulation of small and medium-sized businesses and said that he wants to take a look at the licensing and fee structures surrounding them as well as cut the corporate tax rate. 

Coyne’s fiscal views are outlined in depth on his website,


Justin Fareed, Republican

As far as Republican Justin Fareed is concerned, the Central Coast needs someone in Congress who’s a representative of the community, rather than a party-line voter. 

“Right now, there’s not a single representative under the age of 30 representing our generation,” said Fareed, who’s 25 years old. “My generation is going to inherit an America that’s worse off than the one before it.”

On immigration/labor shortages: “It’s not a simple thing to solve,” Fareed said. He supports a temporary guest-worker program and believes the U.S. needs to beef up border security. Fareed also thinks that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. would be a good thing.

On energy/oil: “I am very much for a de-carbonized future, but in the meantime, we’re dependent on hydrocarbon,” Fareed said. He encourages oil exploration and doesn’t think the country knows enough about hydraulic fracturing to tighten regulations or ban the practice. 

On the Affordable Care Act: He thinks that issues with the Affordable Care Act are unfixable, and supports a full repeal of the bill. Health-care reform is an issue he believes should be tackled on a step-by-step basis, some of which can be taken care of at the state level, such as Medicaid and the reform of malpractice lawsuits.

On job creation/economy: Fareed said the regulatory burden on business owners is too much. “So many people in our district are small-time business owners, we need to lighten the regulatory load,” he said. 

Fareed has a lot to say about regulations and the budget on his website,


Lois Capps, Democrat

Incumbent Lois Capps said immigration reform is the most important issue she has to tackle if she is elected to another term in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

On immigration/labor shortages: Border security measures, an employee verification system, and an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant workers are fixes for the nation’s immigration system, Capps said. “That would address the labor shortages we have, but it would also be the right thing to do for all the people living in the shadows here on the Central Coast,” the Democrat said.

On energy/oil: Capps said energy is a huge issue for the nation, and drilling isn’t going away anytime soon, but she believes the practice of hydraulic fracturing should be more closely regulated. “My priority is ensuring that the drilling we do—with local permission, of course—is being done safely and with minimum impact on the environment,” she said.

On the Affordable Care Act: “It’s not a perfect law,” Capps said. “And I do support changes.” A couple of changes she thinks need to happen are enabling insurance companies to extend health-care plans that were cancelled, and extending tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance coverage options to their employees. 

On job creation/economy: She believes passing comprehensive immigration reform and increasing the minimum wage will stimulate job creation, as well as investing in infrastructure improvements and extending unemployment benefits. 

For more of Capps’ views, visit her website,


Alexis Stuart, Republican

Alexis Stuart is a Nipomo real estate broker and the self-proclaimed Credit Whisperer. She describes herself as a conservative Republican who feels like the Republican party has left her. She thinks the budget deficit could be tackled if many of the services provided by the federal government were pushed back to the states. 

On immigration/labor shortages: “I think we first need to protect our U.S. citizens who want to work,” she said. “We seem to be creating agricultural jobs for our guest-workers, not our citizens.” Stuart added that she’s not crazy about corporate ag, and issues with health and immigration could be solved if people grew their own food.

On energy/oil: Stuart said she is for drilling and oil exploration and believes the United States shouldn’t ship its oil overseas. As far as hydraulic fracturing goes: “I can see the concerns. I’m not totally for it, but I’m not totally against it, either.” It’s an issue she thinks should be addressed at the state level.

On the Affordable Care Act: “The Affordable Care Act is a disaster. It never should have happened; there are way simpler solutions,” Stuart said. “We need to revamp all of our health-care practices.” She explained that health-care reform should start with the patient/doctor relationship and believes a more holistic approach should be taken in Western medicine. 

On job creation/economy: “I’m for people starting their own small businesses if they can’t find a job,” Stuart said. More oil drilling and bringing back manufacturing jobs from China are two tactics she thinks could create more jobs in the United States. Reducing licensing fees and regulatory requirements would make owning a small business much easier, she added. 

Stuart gives a little more of her opinion at


Sandra Marshall, Democrat

According to Sandra Marshall, the most important thing that needs to happen to politics is campaign finance reform. “Every issue we address has money at the bottom of it,” she said. “We need to start thinking about the common good and not just getting re-elected.”

On immigration/labor shortages: A simple affordable path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and better working environments in areas such as agriculture are Marshall’s solutions to labor shortages. “It’s not fair for us to have the fruits of their labor, unless they’re getting paid well and have good working conditions,” she said.

On energy/oil: “I want to get off the oil, and say no to fracking,” Marshall said. “We can live with a little less. … We are the biggest users of everything.” More energy-efficient car production, banning things such as plastic bags and water bottles, and everyone reducing his or her own energy consumption are things she said will help get the United States “off oil.” 

On the Affordable Care Act: “I believe it should be health care for all,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll upgrade so that everyone will be covered.” Marshall believes lobbyists and money are part of the reason the Affordable Care Act hasn’t had the impact it could have. 

On job creation/economy: Should she get elected, Marshall wants to use her influence to persuade technology and manufacturing companies to bring their business to the Central Coast in order to establish better-paying jobs. 

To learn more on how Marshall feels about campaign finance reform, visit


Chris Mitchum, Republican

Fixing the economy via the budget is Chris Mitchum’s answer to some of the country’s problems. He said there’s no silver-bullet easy solution, but a balanced budget amendment and lower taxes would get the United States partway there. “Our country’s in a terrible state right now,” he said. “I have the time and energy to get in the fight.” 

On immigration/labor shortages: Mitchum thinks the United States should close off the borders and protect the country’s shoreline using veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan; cut off federal funding for states that allocate welfare to undocumented immigrants; and implement a documented worker program like the United States used to have. “Immigration used to function very well,” he said.

On energy/oil: “We can keep the debate going on fracking if people are uncomfortable with it, but let’s develop what we have,” Mitchum said. “Every aspect of American wealth and society will be affected [positively] if we go after our natural resources.”

On the Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Care Act is a complete disaster, according to Mitchum. “We probably don’t need to repeal it because it’ll probably implode on itself.” Two things that could reduce the cost of health care are the reform of malpractice lawsuits and enabling people to carry insurance across state lines, he said.

On job creation/economy: In addition to natural gas and oil reserve development, he believes reducing fees and restrictions on small businesses would create more jobs. “Just the cost of starting a business is daunting,” he explained. “We need to back off a little bit and let people get going.”

For a more in-depth look at Mitchum’s views, visit


Dale Francisco, Republican

Dale Francisco didn’t return New Times’ phone calls before press time, so the information here comes directly off his campaign website. 

On immigration/labor shortages: He thinks the first step toward immigration reform is securing the borders and establishing an entry/exit visa system. “The United States accepts more immigrants every year than any other country in the world, but like every other country we have the right to decide who comes here and how long they can stay,” Francisco said on his website. 

On energy/oil: Francisco, a Santa Barbara City Councilman, thinks the United States needs to develop its oil production as well as continue to develop wind, solar, and geothermal technology. “Renewable sources of energy production must be a large part of our overall energy strategy going forward,” he said on the site. 

On the Affordable Care Act: “Our worst fears about federal health-care reform are now coming true,” he said on his site. He thinks the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.

On job creation/economy: “We need to foster a business climate that is consistent and small-business friendly because small businesses drive our economy,” Francisco said on the website. He thinks the way to do that is to have lower taxes and reduce regulations. 

Want a little more info? Visit


Brad Allen, Republican

Brad Allen didn’t return New Times’ phone calls before press time, so the information here comes directly off his campaign website. 

On the Affordable Care Act: “As a doctor, I know that Obamacare should be replaced with market-driven solutions that lower costs, improve access, and empower Americans,” he said on his website. 

On job creation/economy: Allen said on his site that a growing federal bureaucracy and over-regulation are punishing small businesses. He wants to rein in government overreach, adding that doing so will give small businesses more freedom to grow. 

Get a better look at Allen from his website,


Contact Santa Maria Sun Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at

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