Why does Carbajal call Lompoc the armpit?
September 13, 2016
OPINION by ANDY CALDWELL
Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara County supervisor and candidate for Congress, likes to rib people, but sometimes his ribbing rubs people the wrong way. Such was the case when Mr. Carbajal walked into a meeting of local elected representatives and asked a staff person about her recent move to Lompoc.
He asked her how she liked living in the armpit of the county. Of course, describing a community as an armpit is the ultimate insult, meaning that place is a most miserable or undesirable area. The comment was wrong on so many levels, I don’t quite know where to begin, considering the fact that I was raised in Lompoc.
Like countless other people, the staff member had moved because she could no longer afford to live in the South County. She joins tens of thousands of others now forced to commute long distances due to the jobs/housing imbalance and the related high cost of housing. To say that Mr. Carbajal’s comments were elitist, rude and insensitive would be an understatement.
One thing I want to say about armpits is that it is one of the best places to accurately take one’s temperature. In other words, taking the temperature of a community like Lompoc serves to inform us of our overall health as a society; accordingly, the community should be of concern to our elected officials, rather than an object of disdain and disrespect.
Lompoc is the third-largest city in our county and one of the largest in this congressional district. If Mr. Carbajal truly considers Lompoc a miserable and undesirable place to live, it begs the question: What is he willing to do to improve the quality of life for the residents of the city? Moreover, what does he think of Santa Maria and Guadalupe, two other impoverished North County communities? For that matter, what does he think of the poorer neighborhoods in Santa Barbara or SLO County?
Whereas, Mr. Carbajal has long had the privilege of rubbing elbows with constituents in Montecito, one of the most affluent communities in the nation, the fact is most residents in the 24th Congressional District can’t relate. They live from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. Mr. Carbajal therefore should reconsider asking residents of Lompoc, and other impoverished areas of the 24th Congressional District, for their vote. He obviously lacks empathy for the communities that need his help the most. Their plight is no laughing matter.
What Mr. Carbajal fails to understand is that a lot of people, including myself, held no hope whatsoever to become upwardly mobile apart from blue-collar manufacturing jobs. The main reason the North County suffers in relative poverty compared to the South County? It lost these very types of jobs that historically lift people out of poverty.
I witnessed the closure of Grefco, Sunoco, Arrow Automotive, Union Sugar, Santa Maria Chili and numerous other companies due to the black hole of environmental review that exists in our county. Mr. Carbajal subsequently made things worse by imposing a greenhouse gas standard 10 times stricter than any other in California, serving to threaten the highest-paying blue-collar jobs remaining in the county.
In conclusion, I am disappointed, but I can’t say I was surprised by Mr. Carbajal’s remark. For his entire political career, he has catered to a pampered constituency of armchair activists who have had their way with him at the expense of the working class. I know. I worked at one of the plants that closed. The policies supported by Mr. Carbajal cost these communities their best-paying jobs, and now he has the audacity to mock their misery?
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of The Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m. on News-Press Radio AM 1290.
Under the title “For the love of armpits,” the Santa Barbara News-Press first published Andy Caldwell’s opinion.