Dear Fellow Venturans:
I am writing today to announce my intention to seek another term on the Ventura City Council. I do this after much consideration and, most of all, in consultation with my wife, Janna Minsk, who has had to share me with this city for so long.
I must admit, when I first began this journey back in 1997, before my successful election in 1999, I did not think that I would serve more than eight years. In spite of my close to 30 years in government service, however, little could I have guessed how long it takes to get some things accomplished as an elected official. Also, neither I, nor anyone, could have foreseen the devastating turn our economy was going to take in 2008-2009 that has hampered so many of our plans for this community.
One of the reasons that I have decided to run again is that in the field of politics, it takes a long time to build relationships. And because of my now long-term involvement with the League of California Cities, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Ventura Council of Governments (VCOG), I have had an opportunity to build relationships with fellow city council members from around the state and earn their respect and trust. Most importantly, I have also come to fully understand that so much of what affects us locally is the result of decisions made in Sacramento that need to be addressed during the formation of the legislation. Between my roles at both the League and SCAG, I have sat on key policy committees that have helped ward off additional legislative mandates to our city that would further burden our already strained general fund. Furthermore, while I have had good relationships with our past assemblymembers, I have a particularly close relationship with our current one – so much that I have his personal cell phone on my cell phone for speed dialing!
Because things have taken such a sour turn for the nation, California and, therefore, our economy, I feel that it is critically important for me to remain on the council during this period to help guide the city through these tough fiscal times. Understanding how the city of Ventura’s budget works, and the state budget as well, takes a fair amount of time. It took me a while to get my head around it, but I do understand it very well today, and I want to remain as we make our way over these rocky waters.
I’m very proud of the time I’ve served on the Council. I think we’ve accomplished a lot. I am proudest of having had a role in the development of our community sports park (Janna and I are contributors to it as well), of having pushed for better public notification of pending projects to allow for greater public input, for having been instrumental in the completion of our new General Plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, and for leading the charge to eliminate our previous Residential Growth Management Program with a much better, more market-sensitive Housing Approval Program. Most recently, I was particularly pleased to have been the one to make the motion to finally move forward with the Westside Area Plan after close to 12 years of partial starts, and to do it without the inclusion of the Cañada Larga area.
Also, while I served as mayor, I was proud to have finally brought the annual State of the City address to the Council Chambers, where it belonged for all citizens. I did this causing some dismay amongst my fellow Chamber of Commerce members, but it was time and appropriate. And I’m particularly proud of my role in pushing for our integrated pavement management plan that has resulted in a complete inventory of the condition of our streets and coordinating their re-pavement with the upgrade of our underground utilities, leading our Public Works Department to adopt the mantra of “putting on our socks before our shoes.”
Finally, I am announcing today for two other reasons.
First, there has been much speculation about who is planning on running. I thought I’d at least clarify it for me in order to remove any doubt. And while I appeared as something of a reluctant candidate in 2007, I am entering this race with great enthusiasm and energy. No reluctance. No hesitation. I am completely committed to this campaign and continuing to help guide our city.
Second, while I see value in candidate forums, in the past these have, in my opinion, been overdone. They have actually become something of a drain on the candidates physically, and, quite honestly, by the last few, you seldom hear new ideas but rather everyone saying basically the same thing. I am asking any group that is considering holding a candidate forum to give serious consideration to combining it with some other group to save time.
Furthermore, I am letting you know right now, campaign or not, I will be attending the annual Local Agencies Formation Commission (LAFCO) conference the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 2 (paid for by LAFCO) and the annual League of California Cities conference Sept. 21-23 (already included in our Council travel budget) doing the city’s business.
Additionally, I will be attending the annual California Chapter American Planning Association Conference Sept. 11-14 (at my own expense) in order to keep my professional credentials and education intact. So please, with this ample amount of time, plan your forums accordingly. I don’t wish to appear to snub anyone, but all of these conferences and my attendance at them are critical for me and Ventura.
I believe that we’ve come a long way as a city over the past 12 years and taken it in a wonderful new direction, respecting much of the vision we developed starting back in 1998. I still think we have a few more things to achieve to put us on a positive track that keeps us economically viable and environmentally sensitive while providing equity for those who often bear the social brunt. Addressing those “three Es” has been my mantra for the entire time I’ve been on the Council and I am committed to seeing them through. I hope I can count on your support this fall for one more term to help us all achieve our vision.
Carl E. Morehouse, AICP
City of San Buenaventura