This coming election cycle is the dawn of a new era, we hope. In an attempt to clean up politics, California voters have revamped the political landscape by 1.) taking redistricting out of the hands of politicians and giving it to the people via an appointed committee made up of California residents, and 2.) doing away with the two-party system and advancing the two top vote-getters in the June primaries to the November election.
These two progressive moves against gerrymandering and bipartisan politics speak volumes about what Californians want from their elected officials and, even more so, what they don’t want. As time dwindles down to the June 5 primary election, we hope our endorsements help to elect formidable leaders who best represent the community’s needs rather than the power and greed that has corrupted politics for generations.
Don’t forget to mail in your ballots to the county elections office or to vote at the polls by 8 p.m. on June 5. To find the nearest polling place, go to recorder.countyofventura.org.
24th Congressional District
When looking at the credentials of incumbent U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, it’s obvious what she stands for: civil rights, environmental protection, education, women’s rights, universal health care, ending the war, justice, clean energy and much more. She stands for the greater good of our society rather than the prosperity of a few. And she’s not afraid to speak up about her convictions and to act on them with her voting record and legislation. In that vein, it’s easy to endorse Capps for the 24th Congressional District. But what also makes her the easy choice is her opponent, former Assemblyman and Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria. Maldonado doesn’t even have the backing of fellow Republicans, due to a series of situations in which he broke ranks and backed Democrats. Maldonado’s recent legal troubles with the IRS tell us as well that he will be pre-occupied in the future for some time.
Vote for Lois Capps for 24th Congressional District.
26th Congressional District
Among the newly redrawn congressional districts came one for Ventura County — shifting the 26th district from predominantly conservative to a district with a slightly Democratic advantage. As U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, hangs up his hat after serving the district for 25 years, it’s now anyone’s game. And for that reason, it has attracted a variety of candidates to throw their hats in the ring.
Coming from Santa Monica, Democratic Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who will term out at the end of year, moved to Oak Park to further her political ambitions in Ventura County and run for the new district. Though she currently represents Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Oak Park, her move raised some eyebrows. With candidates who already lived in the area in the race, it came as somewhat of a surprise that she would make a political move that could put her in a negative light for carpetbagging. But we can’t blame her — who wouldn’t want to live in Ventura County? We just aren’t confident that she has been here long enough to understand what the region needs.
Then there is Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks — someone we call middle-of-the-road Parks. While we know her views to be fiscally conservative and environmentally friendly, her recent public appearances at various forums have us questioning, if you don’t stand for the left or the right, then what do you stand for? At this point, we don’t know. And apparently she doesn’t know, either, or at least she won’t divulge it. Such a simple question as asking her who she will vote for in the presidential election went unanswered. If she can’t openly answer questions and give reasons why she makes such choices, then we aren’t sure we can rely on her to answer our questions if she were to represent us in D.C. Should she be one of the top-two vote-getters, we hope she clarifies what, exactly, being middle-of-the-road means without worrying that her answers will taint her nonpartisan political stance.
While we like Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jess Herrera, we unfortunately don’t think he has what it takes to win the congressional seat. He comes across as down-to-earth Ventura County local, but when push comes to shove, he’d rather not push or shove, at least when it comes to fundraising and pushing the envelope to make his way to D.C. And he certainly doesn’t have the same name recognition or the financial backing as State Senator Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, who is also vying for the seat, or Brownley, or even Parks.
In the end, there is no denying that staunch conservative Strickland, endorsed by Gallegly and the California Republican Party, is likely to be one of the two-top vote getters. Simply put, Republicans in the newly drawn district really don’t have any other choice, despite the attempt to do away with partisan politics.
For the primary, we won’t endorse anyone for the 26th Congressional District. But because of Strickland’s ultraconservative policies and voting record, we do have one recommendation: vote for anyone but Strickland.
19th State Senate District
Watching reruns can be a drag. Nothing changes and it’s the same old shtick. So when it comes time to vote for the 19th State Senate District, only one candidate stands out as an exciting option: Jason Hodge.
Hodge, 37, is a Democrat, an Oxnard Harbor District commissioner, a Ventura County firefighter, a Silver Strand resident, a surfer, and has a sticker of the agro-political punk rock band Dead Kennedys on the back of his pickup truck. For eight years, he also served as the political director for the Ventura County Professional Firefighters union, which tied him intimately with local political campaigns.
During this campaign, Hodge has positioned himself as “the Democrat who doesn’t think you need higher taxes,” a statement that quickly brought attacks from the far Left decrying Hodge as one of those Democrats.
But when you listen to Hodge’s ideas about government, you quickly learn that Hodge is, indeed, a Democrat, just not one produced from a machine. He generates his own sound ideas about fixing California, ideas that don’t immediately suggest that we need to tax our way out of everything. Streamlining regulatory departments and state agencies in order to bring more jobs back to the state has been a campaign platform for Hodge.
This is exactly why we like Hodge. It’s clear he is not cut from the old cloth of partisan politics, especially with key bipartisan endorsements from former Democratic Assemblyman Pedro Nava and Republican Mike Bradbury, the former Ventura County district attorney. Hodge was also recently endorsed by Controller John Chiang, the State’s chief fiscal officer and a Democrat.
While Hodge’s rivals, Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson and Republican Mike Stoker, both Santa Barbara County Residents, have their dedicated followers, we feel it’s time for a change, and, even more so, it’s time to choose candidates that actually live and work in Ventura County.
Vote for Jason Hodge for the 19th State Senate District.
27th State Senate District
We’re impressed with the work that incumbent Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has done during her time in office, and we hope to see her continue in this role. Representing the 23rd State Senate District (Oxnard and Port Hueneme), she’s been stalwart in environment policies, authoring a fracking notification bill (SB 1054) that requires advance notification of fracking to owners/occupants of properties adjacent to or in the vicinity of oil/gas wells. Pavley also negotiated a successful package of policy bills relating to groundwater management, water rights, conservation and governance of the San Joaquin Delta that address divergent concerns, among other things.
The newly drawn 27th district will represent 38 percent of Ventura County. Pavley has been endorsed by four Ventura County supervisors, and we’re confident that her time spent serving the area these past four years in the State Senate gives her the edge over her opponent.
Vote for Fran Pavley for 23rd State Senate District.
35th Assembly District
Incumbent Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, has been hard at work since elected to the Assembly. We haven’t seen much to be nervous about, and currently support Williams in his re-election efforts.
During his first year, he authored 10 bills that passed out of the legislature and became law, including legislation to protect funding for local school districts. We’re also encouraged by the role he played in the passage of landmark legislation that will require the State of California to generate 34 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
There was, however, a rather unusual claim by Ventura County Agriculture Association, alleging that Williams entered a strawberry farm in his district, posing as a union representative to talk to field workers about working conditions. The Association has threatened to file a civil lawsuit against Williams. Whatever the case may be, we’ll keep our eyes on this as Williams gears up for the November elections.
Vote for Das Williams for 35th Assembly District.
37th Assembly District
When Jeff Gorrell, R-Camarillo, was elected to the assembly in 2010, we hadn’t heard too much about him, other than that he was a family man and in active military service. Then he was deployed almost as soon as he began his term. His voting record is unimpressive, for the mere fact, he hasn’t had the opportunity to vote on much. His recent legislation proposals, however, show his respect for fellow military men and women, providing more benefits and opportunities for veterans returning home. His various other bills aren’t staunchly conservative or liberal. We want to see what happens next with Gorrell, so we endorse him for another two-year term.
Vote for Jeff Gorrell for 37th Assembly District.
Ventura County Supervisor First District
It’s hard not to like incumbent Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett. Whether one’s an ultraliberal, a staunch conservative, or somewhere in between, Bennett appeals to both sides of the sprectrum. He’s an environmental advocate, having co-authored the Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources initiative. But he’s also tough on pension reform, cracking down on out-of-control costs by negotiating higher employee contributions with labor unions. On his watch, the county budget remains balanced. He is pragmatic when it comes to what the county can do to bolster job creation and knows the limits on how the county can’t help. He looks at the bigger picture while scrutinizing the details of various issues affecting Ventura County residents. We like the fact that, though he is a registered Democrat, he doesn’t always fall in line with all things Democratic. That’s why, when he announced he was running for Congress, we felt that few could match his qualifications and were excited at the idea of Bennett representing us in D.C. When he withdrew his candidacy at the 11th hour, however, it was disappointing and left the Democratic Party in a tough spot.
While retired County Fire Chief Bob Roper and Ventura City Councilmembers Christy Weir and Neal Andrews might have brought fresh perspectives to the seat, we believe that Bennett has proven himself despite his faux pas with his run for Congress. It’s a minor infraction compared to the good he has done as supervisor and we look forward to another four years of what he can do to better our community.
Vote for Steve Bennett for Ventura County supervisor.