The VCReporter caught up with some of the county’s civic leaders, politicians and business owners to find out what kind of New Year’s wishes they hope to see fulfilled in 2011.
VCR: What do you wish for your city, or Ventura County, in 2011?
Linda Parks, Ventura County supervisor: In the new year, I’d like to see a greater commitment to protecting natural resources for future generations, providing more help for our aging population, increasing access to alternative transportation, and supporting those things that add to our community’s quality of life. In county government, I look forward to new and invigorated programs to protect public safety as we transition to our county’s new sheriff, Geoff Dean; and I look forward to working with our new county executive officer, Michael Powers, to further strengthen our county’s economic health.
In terms of land use, our children will see the world’s population double in their lifetimes; and while housing and shopping centers can be built anywhere, high-quality, farmable land is finite, as is water, and these natural resources need to be protected. Additionally, I’d like to see more efforts to develop with foresight, including protection of wildlife corridors so wildlife will continue to thrive in open-space lands in our county.
Geoff Dean, Ventura County Sheriff: My wish is for the economy to improve, which will improve everybody’s life, and to have an increasingly safe and healthy place to live, work and raise our families. We’re going to enhance our willingness to all work together. Law enforcement agencies around the county are going to make it great.
Trudy Arriaga, superintendent for the Ventura Unified School District: My wish for the new year is a reprioritization for the well being of our children. We tried to pass the parcel tax, and that takes two-thirds of the majority, and we didn’t pass it. That’s fine, but the reality of it is, we are looking at some tremendous cuts ahead, again to education. So I hope for the new year, as superintendent and as a community, we will make a decision to take care of our children. And that decision will be one where we prioritize our children and whatever we need to do to ensure that our children have a quality education, and the same quality of education that many of us benefited from in the past.
Doug Miser, Ventura Fire captain: Our wishes for the New Year would include three things — a quick and speedy recovery for one of our fellow firefighters who is suffering from his third bout of cancer. Secondly, peace, recovery and serenity to the family and friends of our fire mechanic who recently passed away from cancer. And last, we wish for the safety of our citizens and fire department personnel until our city is able to reopen Fire Station 4.
Jim Hensley, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Ventura County deputy district director: First wish: The Oxnard City Council, planning commission and all the Oxnard school districts start broadcasting their meetings in Spanish and English. Wish number two: Oxnard and Ventura County do away with, or restrict, plastic throwaway bags. Wish number three: Ormond Beach Wetlands has a cleanup, and the heavy-metal toxics be removed by the end of 2011.
Jim Salzer, Ventura business owner: I would like to change (Ventura’s) city charter. It’s my feeling that City Council doesn’t have autonomy. I want the City Council members to be independent and vote their own conscience instead of what the city manager wants. We need the city charter changed so the mayor is elected by the city of Ventura instead of by the city manager. I haven’t liked many of the decisions the city has been making for a while. I feel their priorities are out of whack. … Putting meters in before Christmas was ignorant. My experience in 45 years in retail is that people want to go where there is action and success. When you don’t see cars on Main Street, it looks like we’re unsuccessful. When my customers come in and see it’s jamming, they feel good.
Sylvia White, owner of Sylvia White Gallery: In the two years I’ve been here, there have been numerous meetings and brainstorming sessions, economic development meetings about how to improve the economy in Ventura. The same issues have been coming up for the past two years. One of the issues is that there is no signage on the freeway, in either direction, to give anybody the sense that there would be a reason to get off the freeway. So businesses like mine, we are all trying to create a Ventura to give people an excuse to get off the freeway. There is much talk being done about it, but there is no action about it. This is just an example of one small issue. . . . I would like to see some closure on positive suggestions to move the city forward into the 21st century.
For the county and state, much more needs to be done in terms of environmental protection, keeping beaches and waters safe and clean.