Santa Barbara News-Press Interview

Senate candidates speak out

by Josh Grega October 14, 2020 

Gary Michaels calls for creating better paying jobs

Gary Michaels, a Republican candidate for state Senate, said a per capita income in the neighborhood of $19,000 is a sign that there aren’t enough high paying jobs in the North County. He said the area could benefit jobs in the clean energy industry.

Should Republican candidate Gary Michaels win the election for state Senate District 19 against Assemblywoman Monique Limón next month, his first order of business will be addressing the pressing issue of homelessness, as the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to add to the homeless population.

“When you get into office, you respond to the immediate, very high-level problems,” Mr. Michaels told the News-Press.

He said this would be done by providing “some rather immediate accommodations,” with possibilities including setting up more shelters and utilizing mobile home parks.

Long term, the Santa Maria resident wants to create more high-paying jobs in Senate District 19 to help fix the income inequality between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. According to the Census website, Santa Maria’s per capita income between 2014 and 2018 was $19,647, far less than Santa Barbara’s $43,939.

Mr. Michaels said a per capita income in the neighborhood of $19,000 is a sign that there aren’t enough high paying jobs in North County. From what he can tell, there’s great interest in the clean energy sector and jobs in that industry are exactly what can fix the income disparities in District 19.  

“We need to think about developing industries here,” he said.

While he shares Assemblywoman Limón’s desire to help the environment, Mr. Michaels told the News-Press that he differs from his competitor because he has a willingness to meet with banking and financial stakeholders to make job creation in the clean energy sector happen. 

He explained that many low-income individuals are not plugged into the modern digital economy, and that financial and banking stakeholders into the fold can provide the financing necessary to get them plugged in.

The candidate said that while Ms. Limón meets with housing and economic justice associations, she outright refuses to meet with private enterprise and won’t entertain the possibility of the public and private sector collaborating to fix income inequality.     

“A consistent issue with her is that when she doesn’t like certain groups of people, she won’t collaborate with them at all,” he said.

On the issue of education, Mr. Michaels told the News-Press that he will be a strong supporter of charter schools including non-classroom-based options like home study, work study and computer-based programs. 

According to his website, distanced learning amid the pandemic isn’t going to cut it for kids who are struggling in the classroom anyway. “If you haven’t been doing well in the classroom, sending school to you via the internet is not a remedy.”

Mr. Michaels told the News-Press, “I like competition, and I think charter schools have done well in a lot of places including California.”  

Originally from Illinois, Mr. Michaels has lived in California since the 1980s, when he moved to Los Angeles and started a career in broadcasting and cable, doing creative marketing and production for companies like KMPC 710 Hollywood, owned by country singer Gene Autry, CBS’s San Francisco affiliate KPIX-TV and Univision’s KPMR in Santa Barbara County.

Prior to arriving in California, he was a theater arts student at New England College Arundel in Sussex, England, before switching to New England College in Henniker, N.H., where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While at NEC, he was president of the college Senate and worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. 

Currently, he is the managing partner of Summa Solutions, which is an agency that helps businesses and individuals contract with fiber internet carriers, as well as its sister agency Summa E-rate Solutions, which helps schools come up with technology plans.

Between managing his companies and running for state Senate, Mr. Michaels confessed that he currently doesn’t have too much of a life outside of these endeavors. However, when he did, he enjoyed going lifting weights at the gym, sailboat racing and playing tennis. 

Though he gave up running a while back, gyms closing amid the pandemic have encouraged him to pick it back up.