Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm Running

  • I’m running.

    I can’t believe it’s been four years – almost to the day – since I first announced my candidacy for the Ventura City Council. Four years is an eternity in politics. But it’s not a very long time when you’re trying to assist your community to become a better place. That’s why I’ve decided to seek re-election this fall.

    We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is a great deal more to do. We have begun to “raise the bar” in every area of life in Ventura – but we are not done.

    It’s been my great privilege to serve all of you as a member of the City Council since you first elected me in 2003. I ran because I felt City Hall was out of touch with our community and I thought I could help restore a bond of trust between the community and our city government. I also thought I could help “raise the bar” on a variety of issues, especially planning and development.

    I’ve tried very hard to be responsive to every constituent and thoughtful about every issue. This isn’t always easy. As a member of the City Council, I have 106,000 constituents. And my colleagues and I get flooded with different issues concerning our city every Monday night – not just planning but budgeting, litigation, public works projects, union contracts, partnerships with nonprofit organizations, environmental issues, and on and on. I’m amazed at how much there is to do.

    I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last four years. Our community is a different place today than it was in 2003. Here are some examples:

    Four years ago, our city had a $9 million budget deficit. Today our budget is balanced. As the City Council’s liaison to the Ventura Auto Center, I am proud that we have increased dealerships, sales, and tax revenue in the last four years so that we are running even with our counterparts in Oxnard.

    Four years ago, our hillsides were still at risk for major development. Today they are designated as open space in our General Plan and we have a robust local organization, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, working to protect the hillsides forever.

    Four years ago, our community’s trust in City Hall was at an all-time low. Today, more than 80% of Ventura residents say they trust the city government and like what we’re doing.

    Four years ago, our community was riven – as it had been for decades – over divisive questions about growth and development. Today, thanks to our all-infill General Plan, we are largely in agreement about how and where to grow.

    Four years ago, we weren’t even addressing the pressing questions concerning public safety in our community. Today, we are about to add police officers and firefighters to our city force for the first time in almost two decades.

    These are significant accomplishments. But there is more to do. If you choose to re-elect me to the City Council, I will devote the next four years to finishing the job I’ve started, so that Ventura will continue to be a great place to life in the future.

    With that in mind, here are my priorities for the next four years heading into this election:

    1. Finish the job on prosperity and public safety

    When I ran in 2003, I said that prosperity and public safety are intertwined. You can’t have a prosperous community if it is not safe; and you can’t afford the cost of public safety if your community is not prosperous. Over the next four years, I will work to increase our city’s tax revenues by encouraging appropriate new business, and I will work to use those increased tax revenues to further expand our public safety force.

    2. Finish the job of requiring high-quality new development and historic preservation

    We have made great strides in the last four years on the issue of growth and development. We have committed ourselves to land preservation and focusing on infill development. But we still have not completed the job of requiring high-quality development 100% of the time, so that everyone will benefit from the new growth that we do approve. I am committed to “raising the bar” even more on new development. This means not only requiring high-quality new development, but improving our sensitivity to existing neighborhood conditions and historic preservation.

    3. Finish the job of protecting the hillsides

    Our 2005 General Plan removed the Ventura Hillsides from the path of growth by re-designating the hillside area as open space rather than residential. But virtually all of the hillside land is still in the hands of private landowners. Over the next four years I will work with the city, the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, the Trust for Public Lands, and other conservation organizations to purchase the hillsides so they can be restored ecologically and opened for recreational use.

    4. Finish the job of “greening” Ventura

    Ventura is already one of the most environmentally progressive cities in California. But there is so much more to do to make our community truly “green” – increasing recycling, restoring our barrancas, improving our stormwater runoff so our ocean is always clean, leading the way on conservation so that we simply don’t use as much electricity or gasoline or water as we do today. I am committed to working with my colleagues to make Ventura even greener than it already is.

    5. Finish the job of providing workforce housing

    Housing is so expensive in Ventura that many of the people who work here cannot afford to live here. This leads to commuting, overcrowding, and the loss of a “sense of community”. The city has been working with developers and other large employers to provide more workforce housing – housing available to the people who work in our community rather than commuters. I will continue to work with my colleagues and other organizations in Ventura to expand workforce housing opportunities in Ventura.

    6. Finish the job of engaging our neighborhoods in our governance

    Four years ago I promised that I would work with Ventura’s neighborhoods to find new and important ways for them to be involved in the governance of their communities and our city overall. I am sorry to say that we have not made as much progress on this front as I would like. While the city now does a better job of reaching out to community groups, we still have not found a strong and consistent way to engage our neighborhoods in the governance of our community. Over the next four years, I will work to find innovative and important ways to strengthen the bond between the city government and the neighborhoods so that everyone is involved in governing our town.

    List of Endorsements

    I’m very grateful for the broad and deep support within the community. Here is a list of community leaders who have already agreed to endorse me. We’ll keep adding to this list as the campaign goes on. Titles are for identification purposes only and do not suggest support from the organizations identified.

    Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation

    Brian Brennan, former mayor of Ventura
    Greg Carson, former mayor of Ventura
    Ivor Davis, president of the Ventura Music Festival, and Sally Ogle Davis
    Jill Bangser Fioravanti, Midtown resident and Housing Authority Commissioner
    Lauri Flack, founder of the Westside Community Council
    Dan Frederickson, Downtown resident and investor
    Jim Friedman, former mayor of Ventura
    Debbie Golden, Ventura Unified School District Trustee
    Mary Haffner, Ventura Unified School District Trustee
    Erika Harding, musician and small business owner
    Mark Hartley, Pierpont resident and Downtown investor
    Bill and Rose Hayden Smith, Midtown residents
    John Hecht, Ventura Planning Commissioner
    John Keats, M.D.
    Ed and Susan Lacy, community activists
    Marie Lakin, parent and community activist
    Dan Long, Midtown resident
    Carl Morehouse, Mayor of Ventura
    Pedro Nava, California State Assemblymember
    Hugh Oliver, Midtown resident and hillside activist
    M.L. Peterson, Ventura County School Board Member
    Steve Schafer, Midtown resident and historic preservation activist
    Roy Schneider, M.D.
    Mel Sheeler, former chair, Greater V entura chamber of Commerce
    Sandy Smith, former mayor of Ventura
    Ed Summers, Ventura City Councilmember
    Nan Waltman, Livable Ventura
    Chuck Watson, former director, Interface Family Services
    Christy Weir, Deputy Mayor of Ventura

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