When it comes to politics, it seems that many steer away from the rhetoric. But not Ventura’s Westside community. On Wednesday night, more than 250 packed E.P. Foster School just off of Ventura Avenue to participate in the city council candidate forum.
Noted as one of the best attended forums so far, the candidates were put on the hot seat about Westside issues. So what are some of the controversial issues affecting the community? Buses, parks, libraries, oh my! With not enough parks/rec space for Westside families, people packed on buses like sardines, even passing by stops because there isn’t enough room, and the ommunity’s small library, what kind of solutions do our potential council candidates have?
As was predicted, those with the most institutional knowledge were current councilmembers Carl Morehouse and Christy Weir. Incumbent Morehouse seemed to have quite the grasp on bus routes and the community’s transit needs as he sits on a number of boards relating to the region’s transportation issues. Candidate Martin Armstrong mainly spoke about the need for parks and improvements, as his background is in parks and recreation. Candidate Cheryl Heitmann expounded about expanding the collection at the library. Candidate Brian Lee Rencher always informed and knowledgeable seemed to steal the show with his responses, ending on the note with the first set of questions that he will represent the community on the council — leading him to be a frontrunner with the Westside community. Candidate Bill Knox talked about neglect on the Westside while promising he would improve things while not raising taxes. Candidate Danny Carrillo didn’t say anything tremendously different than any of the other candidates, though certain members of the crowd let out loud cheers whenever he spoke. Candidate Ken Cozzens aimed to keep it light using some humor to keep the crowd in good spirits. Candidate Carla Bonney was soft spoken but direct in her responses, responding similar to everyone else. The theme: more open space and recreational equipment, put more buses in route on the westside, expand the library collection.
One thing is certain, however, that no matter what promises anyone makes during their campaigns, there is no guarantee that those promises will be kept once elected. Does Ventura have a three major frontrunners? You decide.