(Ventura County, Ca) The congenial suburban area just north of Los Angeles County is often noted for its friendly neighbors and small-town feel. But a recent local survey conveys local resident frustration across the county leading many to convey they will be voting due to their dissatisfaction.
The survey was conducted online received a total of 176 Responses over a 2-week period after being published on social media and the newspaper’s main website.
In a question where respondents were asked, “Which issues are extremely important to you this election?” the number 1 answer was immigration with over 70% of respondents selecting it as a key issue and 50% of respondents choosing “change in local or state leadership” as an additional motivator to vote in November.
While political party was not asked of respondents, analysis of answers suggest that 35% of respondents were “Right of Center” and 20% were “Left of Center” and 45% were unknown.
Issues that did not seem to be a high priority were taxes on the rich and women’s health, even though a majority of respondents were women.
Others issues that received as least 40% or more interest included national security, improving quality of life, California governor elections, reduction in my taxes, homelessness, rescinding the gas tax, public safety, and changing one political party’s control.
In the comments section, multiple respondents pointed out that the survey did not have an option for water and drought issues, which they stated should be a high priority for most people in California.
Comments posted in the Survey
In responses to the question, “Our community is experiencing political tension because…” people shared the following: (certain comments have been spell checked)
- An invented divide
- Closed minded people are not tolerant
- You’re kidding, right?
- Hyper partisan activists are creating disruption and divisiveness in our community.
- The people who speak loudest are too extreme in either direction and those with more common sense kept quiet because the extremists scare them into keeping quiet because radicals will do anything to get their point out
- Am not sure if we are
- Empty commercial space, slow approval processes
- Community members want what is best for them on a personal basis, not what is best for the community as a whole. This causes dissension and anger.
- We’ve lost sight of the similarities that we share as Americans and allowed our differences (and the media, politicians, etc.) to foster divisiveness and hatred.
- Because if you don’t toe the line they bully you online.
- People are spewing hate instead of civilly expressing their opinions. The current administration is exacerbating this.
- of slanted left media, social media, women’s movement influencing PTAs for political causes
- Of the mainstream media. They only care about destroying our president.
- Intolerance of other people and their opinions. Stupidity and fear promoted by the media, lack of individual thought.
Respondents were asked: “How do you feel about the future?” The options were 1. Things Look Good In the Future 2. I do not Think Things Look Good in the Future 3. I am not sure.
Respondents appeared evenly divided on the issue of what the future holds. Such responses may reflect the concern about the upcoming elections and the divide on a number of local, state, and federal issues.
Key Local, State, and Federal Races
Perhaps one of the most watched races in Ventura County will be the Oxnard Mayoral race. Incumbent Tim Flynn tries to hold onto his seat as challenger Aaron Starr seeks to unseat the former teacher. Starr began with efforts to focus on the city’s fiscal challenges when in an effort to meet budget shortfalls the city attempted to raise utility rates. In a monumental grassroots effort, Starr and his organization “Moving Oxnard Forward” helped bring out the community at meetings, causing Flynn to shift strategies.
Oxnard remains in a position of budget shortfall with a need to resolve spending limitations in a number of realms. Starr has conveyed his better ability to “sharpen his pencil” to assist Oxnard with a tight budget through his business skills as Controller for one of Oxnard and Ventura County’s largest private employers.
Flynn has served on the Oxnard City Council since 2004 and teaches at Oxnard College. The incumbent lead energetic efforts to lure Amazon to the coastal city in its HQ2 initiative. Amazon announced earlier this year that the site location would likely be on the east coast.
In Thousand Oaks, the Conejo Valley Unified School District became an extremely contentious race after a local community member engaged in a series of exchanges with a school board trustee that attracted media attention.
As a mostly conservative, 5-member board, CVUSD trustees approved a parent friendly initiative to allow students to receive “alternate assignments” in English literature courses if certain reading was requested by a student. According to school board trustees, the policy resulted from students and parents writing letters and complaints about not wanting to read books that contained mature content such as sexual assault, violence, or sexually explicit content.
The policy formalizes what was stated to be a verbal policy at the district but garnered strong objection from certain community members that did not agree with a requirement to post the policy on the class syllabus, to asterisk certain books that could be considered mature, and the use of a parent committee to make literature recommendations directly to school board Trustees.
With 3 available seats and 8 candidates (3 registered Republicans, 4Democrats, and 1 No Party Preference), the election may boil down to partisan turnout for what has traditionally been non-partisan seats. The three conservative candidates include incumbent Mike Dunn, education foundation leader Dr. Amy Chen and former CVUSD school teacher and All-American volleyball player, Angie Simpson. The no party preference candidate is Patrissha Rose Booker of Thousand Oaks. The Democrat candidates include Marlon Delano Williams of Newbury Park (who last run in 2016 and received 10,325 votes) and is a paraprofessional and coach and running as a single ticket under the slogan #ConejoTogether are Cindy Goldberg, Conejo Schools Foundation Managing Director, Bill Gorback, retired Phoenix school counselor, and attorney, Jenny Fitzgerald.
At the Ventura County Office of Education in Area 4, Incumbent Dean Kunicki is running against challenger Rob Collins, a former Simi Valley Unified School District Trustee. Collins faced a recall in 2013 after SVUSD faced insolvency earlier in the year. Collins was accused of “deficit spending” by former fellow Trustee, Rob White.
VCOE became aware of the distressed financial state when SVUSD provided the December mid-year report, 1 of 2 required to be filed each year. The budget reflected estimates that accounts would be negative after then President Rob Collins stated that the District had spent $13 million over several years to protect certain programs.
In the Simi Valley Acorn in the February 2013 issue, Collins stated, “We definitely have burned through all our reserves in the last few years, and we’ve known this was coming because it’s been happening in other districts,” Collins said. “But we said, as a district, we hope we can weather through this recession without making cuts or taking furlough days. Now we really have hit the wall.”
Collins now runs for the very seat and office that assisted him previously.
Kunicki, who has held the position since 2004 was appointed to the vacated position after serving on local boards and commissions in Simi Valley. Kunicki, a local business owner, was the developer of a new retirement community called “Hummingbird Lane” located in Simi Valley. Kunicki was also the founder of the Simi Valley Education Foundation, the non-for-profit organization that helps raise money for the needs of SVUSD. Kunicki also served on the Simi Valley Planning Commission.
At the state level, State Assemblywoman for the 44th District, Jacqui Irwin, faces Republican challenger and attorney, Ronda Baldwin- Kennedy. Irwin supporters have been engaging in heated exchanges on Twitter with Baldwin-Kennedy regarding legislation voted on or supported by Irwin. Baldwin-Kennedy, a Ventura based attorney, maintains clients in Oxnard and Ventura and boats of immigration seminars she offers for free to clients seeking assistance. Irwin, of Thousand Oaks, began with the Thousand Oaks City Council and then County Board of Supervisors before heading to Sacramento. Her recent votes on SB1, which included a gas tax, along with SB10, which moves to not require bail on certain crimes, has given rise to social media chatter and local voter frustration with Irwin’s voting record.
At the federal level, incumbent Congresswoman for the 26th District, Julia Brownley, is running against the Republican entrepreneur, model and actor Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Sabato, who emigrated from Italy in his teens, has been active on social media regarding his stance on immigration reform and his support of local veterans and the need to ensure service levels remain high at the Veterans Administration. The Thousand Oaks father of 3 made his debut at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016. Sabato received the endorsement of the Ventura County Deputy Sheriff’s Association as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Ed Royce and the House Veterans Affairs Committee Vice Chairman, Gus Bilirakis.
Brownley moved to Westlake Village from Santa Monica after serving on the Santa Monica school board. She won election in 2012 and serves on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Brownley was elected as Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, and she also serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. Brownley is most known for passing her Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act in 2016, which would require the VA to collect data on women veterans in order to identify best practices, programs, and services to curb female veteran suicide.
The General Election is on Tuesday, November 6. Polls open at 7:00am and close at 8:00pm. Vote-By-Mail Ballots are sent 30 days prior to election day. The last day to register to vote in 15 days before election day, or October 22, 2018.
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