Races across the Santa Ynez Valley are starting to take shape and some real competition may be on the horizon.

While the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District and the Santa Ynez Community Services District’s boards will run unopposed, challengers have placed themselves in the race for other seats. Solvang, Buellton, and the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District: Improvement District One (ID1) all have contested seats this year.

Solvang is supplying a large percentage of the open seats this year. Because the city decided to have an elected mayor in 2006, there needed to be a correction to the election rotation. The city charter says every two years the mayor and two city council members should be up for election. This year the mayor and three city council members will be up for election. One of the council seats will only have a term of two years in order to even out the number of seats available at each election. Because incumbent Ed Skytt did not file for reelection to the city council, the deadline to file was extended until Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Incumbent Joan Jamieson and Tara Wood had both filed to run for one of the two four-year positions with the city council. Two other possible candidates had taken out papers to run for the seats but had not returned them to the city clerk as of Wednesday afternoon. If they had not filed their papers by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the four-year city council race will not be on the ballot. As of publication, current city councilman Ken Palmer is running unopposed for the two-year seat.

The race for mayor of Solvang will be split two ways, between current mayor Jim Richardson and city councilman Ed Skytt. Skytt dropped his bid for re-election to the city council in order to run for mayor. Richardson has said he welcomes the competition in the races, and as late as Monday night was encouraging the public to run for office.

All the seats up for election on the board of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District Improvement District One have challengers to the incumbents. A coalition of three people is hoping to replace the majority of ID1’s current board. Dennis Beebe, Karen Carroll, and Larry Musgrove share a website called www.fixid1.org. According to the site, all three decided to run for the board after reading a recent grand jury report that criticized public apathy. Their site said the coalition seeks a “greater involvement of the citizenry of the district and better management of ID1 in the public interest.”

The group will challenge incumbents Matt Loudon, Lee Bettencourt and Jeffery Clay. Clay said in response to the challengers that he is proud of his work on the board and is proud to serve with the current members. “I want to cut away all the speculation and look at the facts. I’m just going to narrate the positive things that ID1 has done over the last four years.” Clay said district accomplishments that he wanted to highlight included secure $5 million in money for wells from FEMA. Clay also said he was also proud of keeping rates “really reasonable in comparison to other government water suppliers.”

Clay’s division two opponent, Dennis Beebe, said in a statement that “If elected, I will bring my engineering management expertise and water company experience to the maintenance and operation of the district’s water production and distribution system.” Beebe said his top priorities included securing a long-term water source for Solvang.

In Buellton, six people will be running for three city council seats. City council members Ed Andrisek, Russ Hicks and Victoria Pointer are all running for re-election. They will face off against Judith Dale, John Dorwin and Teri Romero. In November, the top three vote getters will take control of the three council seats with 4-year terms. Dale said in an interview that she had just retired as a faculty member at UCSB and decided it was time to give back to the community.

Dale said she wanted to keep working on the visioning process for the city. She cited studies performed by local universities on the city, particularly the controversial Avenue of the Flags. “It’s time to pull those studies off the shelf,” she said. “We need to make sure we carry through.” The general election will be held on Nov. 2.