62 and a resident of Oxnard. I retired after a 30-year career with the Oxnard Police Department. I have been on the Oxnard City Council for eight years.
What are the major city issues of concern to you in the future?
I have three points of focus for my campaign.
Public safety. Since 2011 our crime rate has been increasing. One year saw a 26 percent increase. And in the most recent budget cycle the Police Department took the biggest hit in terms of position elimination and funding reductions. When crime is on the increase the wrong approach is to reduce positions and funding.
Economic gardening. This is a philosophy of reaching out to successful businesses and helping them to grow and prosper. But helping them to perform better it stimulates the local economy creates new job opportunities and fosters the growth of the businesses that support the business you are working with. By creating more jobs for local residents you provide them with disposable income that is returned to the city in the form of sale- and property-tax revenues.
Trust in City Hall. We recently had discussions about utility rate increases. I did not support them because I felt that we did not have accurate financial numbers upon which to make decisions. Within the last few weeks an internal message indicated that we were late in billing for $909,000 worth of water usage because some water meters were malfunctioning and there was not enough staff to keep up with the work demand of manually reading those meters. I find it disconcerting that we would ask the ratepayers for an increase when we are not operating efficiently enough to collect all of the revenue owed to the city. We need to get our house in order before we ask the community to give us more money.
What issues in the past do you feel are not being addressed?
Finances continue to be a major concern. Two years ago we embarked on rebuilding our staff and management staff and we still do not have a complete management team in place, including a critical shortage in finance. Of the upper management that we have hired, many of them have left to return to their former jobs or other jobs.
What are your thoughts on the state of local businesses in the city?
California is not a business-friendly state. Surviving in California is difficult at best and the city needs to do all it can to assist those businesses that are here to thrive and grow into the future. When you hear that businesses are closing because of over-regulation and such stringent controls that it is simply not cost-effective to work in this state, this has to be seen as a message to the state that we need to rethink our approach. The city needs to be the messenger to the state that something is wrong.
What are your thoughts on current public safety issues?
Oxnard has cut public safety over the past several years or not staffed it as it needs to be staffed. The police department lost between 15 and 25 positions (the total number is not clear due to changes in budget reporting and who one asks for information) and has also lost over $1 million in funding.
Oxnard is a city of approximately 210,000 residents. We have eight fire stations which are not always fully staffed (mostly staffed but sometimes some equipment has to be browned out). The city of Ventura has approximately 108,000 residents and has six fire stations which are fully staffed.
It was recently commented on by our mayor that Oxnard spends more general fund money on public safety than any other city in Ventura County. Certainly we do because we are the biggest city in the county. However, when you look at that spending on a per capita basi, Oxnard is near the bottom of the list in terms of funding public safety. This is unacceptable. Oxnard should be the leader, not that last.
What are your housing concerns for the city? How will you address them in the future?
There is not enough housing available in this city. This is why you see two and three families living in one house, which exacerbates on-street parking and quality of life. I sit on a board called Las Cortes and we are a nonprofit under the Housing Department of the city. We work with developers to create affordable housing units by assisting them in getting state tax credits and then developing new projects or redeveloping blighted areas. We maintain part ownership of each project and share in the income. All of our board are volunteers so there are no salaries, and all of our profits return to the corporation as seed money for the next project. We are currently in the process of renewing all of the courts in La Colonia as well as having just finished a new facility at the west end of Del Sol Park.
How important are the city’s natural resources to you and what are you doing about it?
The city’s natural resources are vitally important. Especially water. Some people see the Advanced Water Purification Facility (AWPF) as a boondoggle but this facility allows us to recapture up to 17 million gallons of water per day that would otherwise be tossed away in the ocean. This facility was built with future growth in mind so that we can potentially double the amount of water that we recover. We then sell this water to the agricultural community, which allows them to reduce the amount of potable water they are using for irrigation. Whatever potable water they don’t use is then available for our residential customers to use.
Discuss other concerns you have with your city and what you will do to address them. This may include water issues, the state of your city’s school districts, the city’s financial stability, unemployment, etc.