District 4 supervisory race unfolds in East County
Bruce Thomas takes a stab at winning out over Simi incumbent Peter Foy
By Paul Sisolak 05/20/2010
Bruce Thomas says he is promising to pick up the pieces that the current leadership has left behind in the county’s 4th District.
“Part of leadership is engaging people, whether you agree with them or not,” he said. “My point is, whether you like people or not, you have to take care of the home team and help them.”
Thomas is running for supervisor of District 4 — which covers Moorpark, Simi Valley and unincorporated areas — and directs his comments against his opponent, incumbent Peter Foy, who is seeking re-election as he nears the close of his first term on the five-member Ventura County Board of Supervisors.
It’s one of two critical supervisory races based in the greater East County areas of Moorpark/Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks. The first pits the right-leaning assemblywoman Audra Strickland against the more moderate Republican incumbent Linda Parks for District 2 supervisor. Foy, much like Strickland, is known as a conservative Republican.
For Thomas, a Democrat, it will be a tough egg to crack in a region with a predominantly conservative voting base.
According to statistics from the county’s elections division, Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans only in the second and fourth supervisory districts (40,469 registered Republicans in District 2 compared to 31,369 Democrats, as of last month; and 41,491 in District 4 Republican voters to 29,891 Democrats, a bigger disparity). Add to that Foy’s quick popularity among constituents for his strong, conservative-based decision making, and any contender faces an uphill battle.
It’s also a second go-round for Thomas at competing with the Republican guard. In 2002, he lost a bid against Audra Strickland for the 37th Assembly District seat she was elected to and is now being termed out of.
Thomas, however, is up to the challenge once more and says that whatever constituency Foy may currently have doesn’t begin to compensate for the residents of District 4 he’s neglected, especially those who live in unincorporated areas outside Moorpark or Simi.
“The unincorporated areas in the county, Somis, Knolls, Tierra Rejada and Home Acres, we need to bring them into 21st century representation,” Thomas said. “If elected, I’d shift emphasis on those communities. It’s just time.”
Foy, he adds, “doesn’t believe in them.”
Big on Thomas’ agenda is forming municipal advisory councils, or MACs: ad hoc citizen advisory groups appointed by officials, who meet to discuss community issues like public safety, development, roads and most important to Thomas, property rights.
Those people who live in unincorporated parts of District 4 don’t have that voice, according to Thomas, because Foy hasn’t established MACs in his coverage area like there are in Districts 1, 2 and 5.
Thomas is also opposed to a long-standing, proposed expansion of the Simi Valley Landfill, and says he is committed to improving the job market hit hard by the economy.
But Thomas, who is currently an elected trustee of the Moorpark Unified School Board, says what needs fixing the most in District 4 is the public education system. He says that a representative like Foy has dropped the ball in regard to devising better early education programs.
“What I want to do is come up with a game plan and have the public schools come up with school readiness criteria for kindergarten,” Thomas said.
If elected supervisor, Thomas said, he will take the steps to assembling a pre-K-to-third grade system connecting county officials, local school districts, private preschools and the Head Start and First 5 programs. First 5 is managed by the board of supervisors.
Thomas’ emphasis on education is obvious in endorsements from people like Jeanne Davis or Rob Collins, members of the Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees.
Foy was unreachable for comment after numerous attempts to contact him.
Most recently, Foy kept the League of Women Voters at a distance after declining to participate in a question-and-answer forum joined by Thomas.
David Maron, perennial moderator for league forums, said that Foy’s office didn’t decline the invitation to participate; Foy, he noted, just never confirmed an appearance.
“We contacted his office to try and find a date that was agreeable,” Maron said. “We weren’t necessarily surprised, but as an incumbent, we were confident he would be more comfortable to show up.”
Foy is a 26-year Simi Valley resident and businessman, who was appointed board of supervisors chairman in 2008, just a year into his first term. He’s best known, perhaps, for spearheading the start of the Highway 118 Task Force and for establishing board term limits. It was viewed by some as an indirect response to the departure of long-time board member John Flynn, who represented District 5 for a record 36 years.