Something is wrong with our decision-making process, America. What was the model for democracy throughout the world has now become a public spectacle, little more than entertainment. This was brought on by several things: the corrupting influence that money has on our election process, the stoppage of civil discourse and action in the Senate and House of Representatives, and the apathy and divisiveness among the citizens of this country.

This particular election is of major importance to us locally, statewide and nationally. Beyond that, the implications of the biggest decision could affect the entire planet. And while we don’t want to take the bait and join those who are making decisions from a fear-based perspective, we are very concerned with the possible results of the Nov. 8 election. 

Because this year’s California ballot is the longest and most complex in modern times, below is a collection of recommendations that are short and to the point, the most important of which is this:

America must get back to electing capable men and women we trust and believe in and allow them to make many of the decisions on the ballot that affect us. Our collective loss of faith in our leaders has led to a direct democracy mentality among voters, which is not the best path, and here’s why — if we allow everyone to be the boss, then who do we hold accountable?

Note: Our complete endorsements–candidates, local measures and state propositions–are all included in this post. For quick access to these various endorsement categories, click on the following links:

Candidates

Local measures 

State Propositions

President

Donald Trump has done what no other candidate in modern times has been able to do. He has risen against all odds and is now legitimately vying for the position of president of the United States without ever having held office, without outspending his competitor, without even having the backing of much of his own party. Despite his best efforts to sabotage his own campaign with wrongheaded statements and positions too long to list here, he did so well in the polls because he has tapped into a festering sore that many Americans share: the loss of blue collar jobs, the fear of terrorism, governmental over-regulation and unaccountability to name a few. His voter pool clings to the rhetoric that Trump can bring back what America might have been like 75 years ago — a white male-dominated, oversimplified culture, one that is no longer appropriate or possible.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, may be one of the best-qualified candidates in modern history — a former senator, secretary of state, attorney, volunteer — yet she is disliked and untrusted by many.  In some ways, she and husband Bill are to blame.

When it comes down to this most important item on your ballot, we endorse a proven commodity over a candidate whose tactic seems to be to say whatever will get a rise on any given day. Not only does Trump not espouse the values that helped to make America great, he also has no logical or realistic plan for moving his party’s agenda forward.  If George Bush was known as the flip-flop candidate, then Donald Trump is the man on the high wire, a wire that is unsafe and dangerous for America.

Vote for Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Senator

Democratic California Attorney General Kamala Harris has a proven track record for environmental and social justice, plus her long list of endorsements span the gamut from advocates for gun violence prevention to farmworkers, teachers, safety unions, minorities and more. She’s the right fit for California.

Vote for Kamala Harris.

26th Congressional District

Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, continues to do good work in office, voting in favor of affordable health care, women’s rights, veteran benefits, a balanced budget, gun control measures, improving education, etc. We expect her to continue down this path. 

Vote for Julia Brownley.

19th Senatorial District

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has been a staunch defender of the environment, access to the best education, women’s issues, immigrants welfare, gun control and more. She’s predicable in her pursuit of a better quality of life for California residents and the constituents she serves.

Vote for Hannah-Beth Jackson.

27th Senatorial District

Henry Stern served as Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley’s right hand-man as her senior adviser for the last four years as she took on corporations and lobbyists over fracking, the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak and more. He can fill those big shoes she’s leaving behind. 

Vote for Henry Stern.

37th Assembly District

S. Monique Limon has spent the last several years serving her community on the Santa Barbara Unified School Board, currently in her second term. She is an advocate of education and women’s rights. Our only hope — she will come down to Ventura more often to bend an ear for local issues outside of Santa Barbara.

Vote for S. Monique Limon

44th Assembly District

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, is a mover and a shaker. She likes to get things done, from taking on better security in the cyberworld to veteran issues and raising the minimum wage. We aren’t clear why she sat out the vote on overtime for farmworkers — an explanation wasn’t forthcoming — but that’s doesn’t mean all the work she has done thus far is lost.

Vote for Jacqui Irwin.

Ventura County Supervisor, third district

Carla Castilla brings solid political experience, working as Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s district director, to the Ventura County Supervisor seat and an ideological platform that follows her predecessor, Kathy Long. She understands the need for jobs and environmental regulations, etc. While she fits the status quo Democrat, we especially like the fact she is in her late 30s, which is relatively young for such an important seat. And while she didn’t follow voting rules to a T — her husband’s home was in Camarillo and she continued to vote in Oxnard elections, where she had been based before she got married — the fact that she was so dedicated to voting in her home city indicates that she has the passion that has been missing in so many other candidates. We can look past her indiscretion and hope she brings that fervor and concern with her to the supervisor position.

Vote for Carla Castilla.

OXNARD

Mayor

When Tim Flynn was elected as Oxnard mayor in 2012, he was a force to be reckoned with. He had served on the City Council during a highly contentious time from 2004 to 2008 and then again from 2010 to 2012, before being elected mayor. Flynn has never been scared to challenge the status quo, especially when it came to the city’s business operations and fiscal responsibility. In 2010, the Ventura County District Attorney launched an investigation into those issues in particular; and while no one was prosecuted for wrongdoing, it led to a disintegration of top leadership in Oxnard, whether voluntarily through resignation or retirement or otherwise. Since Flynn has been in office over the last four years, he has led the effort with Council’s approval to allocate $30 million for repaving every residential street in the city, along with the city taking over operations of the trash facility, estimated to save ratepayers $2 million, and ended no-bid contracts. While there is no argument that Flynn has been especially tenacious in trying to move Oxnard forward, there, however, have been consistent frustrations and concerns about Flynn’s temperament and inability to work effectively with people from the city to the dais and the general public. Certainly, when Flynn is on your side, he is a fierce ally, but when he isn’t, finding solutions seems to be an arduous task, at best.

Miguel Lopez, on the other hand, the former community affairs officer for Oxnard Police Department, is a fledgling politician who went straight for the top elected office of Oxnard for mayor. At 34, that’s quite an ambitious goal for the largest city, but we have some concerns. While we can appreciate what a man of Latino heritage might represent for the city of Oxnard, given Lopez’s deeply rooted ties to Oxnard’s safety and fire department during a volatile time when both departments are unhappy, we are uncertain that as mayor he would be able to make decisions without bias. Further, he has six endorsements connected to fire and safety. He may have the temperament and the passion to help Oxnard residents, but he may have overshot his election chances by not trying to run for City Council first and proving by example how he, as an elected official, would work with the rest of the City Council and be able to prove he is balanced.

At this time, Flynn and Lopez are the top competitors in a contentious race for the seat, with Armando Sepulveda also in the running but he doesn’t necessarily have support that the familiar Flynn name has or the various union backing as Lopez. Many Oxnard residents are grateful for Flynn’s fight to clean up City Hall while others want Lopez for his experience in community affairs — and he clearly did well in doing so, being named Employee of the Year in February.

In the end, though, it’s the various people and groups who support Lopez that speak for his ability to be a good leader: Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza, David Rodriquez, state director of LULAC, a major labor union, members of Latino organizations and more.Finding Flynn’s endorsements beyond friends and family who have donated to his campaign has, thus far, been unproductive. It’s time for a change.

Vote for Miguel Lopez.

OXNARD

City Council

Bryan MacDonald has been the voice of fiscal reason on a City Council that has voted to cut expenses — as in public safety — and raise income in the form of wastewater rates. He is one of the few candidates for City Council who actually understands how a city government is financed and how its budget works, and has consistently worked with his constituents to solve problems during his eight years on the Council.

Vote for Bryan MacDonald.

Among a slate of candidates that ranges from clueless to crazy, Planning Commissioner Steve Huber stands out as the candidate with both leadership skills and business experience. As a former commanding officer at Port Hueneme Naval Station, he has been responsible for large staffs and large budgets; as a business consultant, he has the know-how to jump-start Oxnard’s ailing downtown. Further, in 2014, he lost his bid for a seat on the City Council by 10 votes. He’s clearly a candidate Oxnard voters stand behind. And we can too.

Vote for Steve Huber.

OXNARD

City Clerk

We don’t traditionally endorse city clerk candidates but we were glad to see Michelle Ascension running for the position. She is more than qualified, given her near 10-year tenure with the city of Port Hueneme and her recent move to Ventura Regional Sanitation District. She’s a shoo-in.

Vote for Michelle Ascension.

Port Hueneme

City Council

With two seats open, we can only endorse one candidate at this time though we suggest avoiding incumbents.

Will Berg has done good work as public information officer with the Port of Hueneme for many years. We feel he is sufficiently competent and even-keeled to serve on a longtime dysfunctional City Council and to do his best for the residents and city staff as well. We feel confident he will recuse himself from issues involving the Port of Hueneme as necessary to avoid conflict of interest. He is the right person at the right time.

Vote for Will Berg.

Ventura

City Council

This election can be seen as a referendum on the direction of the city.

If you are happy with the decisions made and direction taken in the recent past, vote for the incumbents.

Both Christy Weir and Cheryl Heitmann have put a lot of time and effort into their work and should be applauded for such. And for the most part have done a good job representing a segment of Ventura that wants slow growth and a focus on the granular instead of the big picture. For this, Ventura is now starting to feel the pain. It is losing businesses to other areas in and outside of Ventura County. The cost of housing vs. the wages offered makes Ventura one of the most expensive places to live in the region.  As boats rise in other cities, Ventura is now asking citizens to pay more to keep the city’s infrastructure intact (more on that topic — see Measure O). The pace of government does not mirror the requirements of the private sector. When that happens, problems should be expected.

If you feel it’s time for a new direction, then vote for new leadership.

Matt LaVere has a combination of clear focus, knowledge and understanding of the problems facing the city of Ventura. An attorney with a local practice, he has served on the boards of of the Ventura College Foundation, Project Understanding and the Downtown Ventura Rotary Club. LaVere’s professional experience in working with small businesses in the city of Ventura comes in especially handy, given all the bureaucratic red tape that business owners have to get through in order just to get established. His service on the various nonprofit boards gives him a well-rounded view of different economic classes in need. Because of his congenial nature, we feel he would be an asset to the citizens of Ventura.

Dave Grau, a retired business executive, could be viewed as more of the same on the Council (retired, white) but for his pro-business, anti-tax positions.  Grau garnered 40 percent of the vote in a bid to unseat Steve Bennett for Supervisor of District 1 and was a latecomer to this City Council race. His business experience and stance on keeping public employee pensions in check could change the outcomes of Council decisions in the future.  Note: We think he’ll again run for Supervisor when Bennett terms out.  While we may not agree with all of his positions, he will serve as a decent watchdog over city spending and will provide balance with pro-business and –growth stances that the current City Council seems to be lacking.

Ventura

Unified School Board

Sabrena Rodriquez is the president of the Ventura Educational Partnership and has been a longtime VUSD volunteer. Her top priorities are for every student to achieve grade-level reading in elementary school by reducing K-2 class sizes, and providing resources to struggling students — supporting them before they fall behind.  We agree that these are important priorities.

Vote for Sabrena Rodriquez.

Don Wood is a former president of the Educational Partnership and has over 22 years of supporting schools in a variety of roles in Los Angeles and Ventura.  We like his goals of ensuring that every student has a clear path to success after graduation, whether college-bound or not. We need to provide strong technical and vocational training, in conjunction with both Ventura Adult and Continuing Education and Ventura College.

Vote for Don Wood.­

State Propositions

Proposition 51

Proposition 51 seems as if it would be a positive move for schools, authorizing billions in bonds for new construction and modernization, but then it becomes rather complicated with how the initiative would allocate funds and levy fees. Further, local school districts have been diligent and successful in getting their own initiatives passed to fund such projects.

Vote No on Proposition 51.

Proposition 52

Proposition 52 would increase the required vote to two-thirds for the Legislature to amend existing law that imposes fees on hospitals (for the purpose of obtaining federal Medi-Cal matching funds) and that directs those fees and federal matching funds to hospital-provided Medi-Cal health-care services, to uncompensated care provided by hospitals to uninsured patients, and to children’s health coverage. 

Forcing the legislature to get more people on board to get legislation amended seems counterproductive. Also, these sorts of nuanced issues should not be left in the hands of the voters to complicate things further.

Vote No on Proposition 52.

Proposition 53

Proposition 53 would mandate voter approval for state projects that cost more than $2 billion. This is a direct democracy bill to further take control away from of our legislators and gives it to the voters. We need to have some faith that our legislators have our best interests in mind.

Vote No on Proposition 53.

Proposition 54

Proposition 54 would prohibit the state legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote, except in cases of public emergency. It will cost about $2 million to implement. For the sake of transparency, we feel it’s worth the cost.

Vote Yes on Proposition 54.

Proposition 55

Proposition 55 would extend by 12 years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000 (for single filers; over $500,000 for joint filers; over $340,000 for heads of household). It would allocate these tax revenues of 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to California Community Colleges and allocates up to $2 billion per year in certain years for health-care programs. While taxing the rich to give to the poor better education and health care services may not be exactly what some may call “fair,” it’s critical for a thriving society.

Vote Yes on Proposition 55.

Proposition 56

Proposition 56 would increase the cost of a pack of cigarettes by $2 to fund health-care services, 82 percent of which will go to general health-care services that also include tobacco-related issues. The rest will go to tobacco-related prevention efforts and research. While some may argue it’s an unfair tax on smokers, the reality is, California has one of the lowest excise taxes on cigarettes at 87 cents a pack. New York’s tax is $4.35. Further, increasing the cost of any commodity has been proven to reduce consumer usage. Take, for instance, when gas prices spike. And knowing how bad smoking is, isn’t that really the point?

Vote Yes on Proposition 56.

Proposition 57

Proposition 57 rewards good behavior on inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes, gives incarcerated youth a second chance by allowing the judge and not the prosecutor to decide if the accused will be tried as an adult, and focuses more on rehabilitation measures rather than punishment with sentence credits. Simply put, we reward good behavior rather than default to punishment.

Vote Yes on Proposition 57.

Proposition 58

Proposition 58 would bring back bilingual education, mainly designed to help advance English learners by allowing them to learn English at a steady pace but also to grow academically by learning other subjects in their native Spanish language. It would be great if we all spoke the same language, which was actually the basis of the English immersion law originally passed in 1998, even if it passed with anti-immigrant sentiment. And so we tried for the last 18 years, and non-English speakers have continued to struggle and have fallen behind, i.e., it didn’t work. We need to focus on helping all California students succeed.

Vote Yes on Proposition 58.

Proposition 59

Proposition 59 is simply a civil protest by California voters that shows disapproval of the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision, which allowed secretive and unregulated spending in elections by giving citizen rights to corporations.

Vote Yes on Proposition 59.

Proposition 60

Proposition 60 would require porn actors to use condoms when performing. We feel that adults should be able to make their own decisions on their safety. This is simply a morality initiative to chase the porn industry out of California. Even worse, it gives the state, performers or any state resident the ability to enforce violations. Giving just any old resident the ability to enforce this law is reason enough to vote no. Stop worrying about the actors so much and start looking at why there is so much demand. 

Vote No on Proposition 60.

Proposition 61

Proposition 61 seems like a no-brainer in setting pricing standards of state-bought pharmaceuticals by prohibiting state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Even with the negative outcome of inflating prices of the EpiPen with tremendous public outcry, there, however, seems to be some inherent flaws in capping the prices straightaway versus being able to negotiate prices. Also, pharmaceutical companies will probably look to make up for those losses by hitting the private market. We understand the good intention of this bill, but capping prescription costs needs to be a concerted effort of the president, Congress and state lawmakers. 

Vote No on Proposition 61.

Proposition 62

Proposition 62 would overturn the death penalty. Gandhi once said, “Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” The death penalty is archaic, barbaric and not characteristic of a civilized society. Plus it has been proven to give no relief to the families of victims.

Vote Yes on Proposition 62.

Proposition 63 

Proposition 63 prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires their disposal by sale to dealer, destruction or removal from state. It also requires most individuals to pass background checks and obtain Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition.

We understand that Second Amendment rights should ensure gun advocates access to whatever accessories they want for their guns but we are unclear about the obsession with large magazines. And if a law-abiding citizen wants to ensure that bullets stay out of the hands of criminals, requiring Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition seems like a good way to do it. Understandably, this could create a black market for ammunition. We, however, are willing to take that chance if it means there are fewer casualties in the end.

Vote Yes on Proposition 63.

Proposition 64

Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana and hemp under state law. With 58 percent of recently polled Californians in favor of legalization, according to the Los Angeles Times, the time has come. Not addressing this now allows an underground market serving 15 percent of all adults to do as it pleases with no benefits for the general public. Yes, it’s an underground financial market as of today (due to most financial institutions not banking with this industry due to Federal FDIC rules) and we acknowledge that the bill is not perfect but can be amended in the future. This future is now.

Vote Yes on Proposition 64.

Proposition 65

Updated: Proposition 65 would redirect money through the sale of carryout bags to a special fund administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. That seems rather appropriate, given the harm these carryout bags have already caused our wildlife. And given we already voted to ban bags in California and four years later, they are still in our stores, it seems like some good will is better than … none. But it’s a trick. Prop 65 gives markets the option to continue using plastic bags if they so choose. We want to end the use of single use bags to protect our environment, but this proposition would void Prop 67 if they were to both pass. It’s a slick trick by bag manufacturers and it was intended to confuse voters. It’s not good.

Vote No on Proposition 65.

Proposition 66

Proposition 66 would expedite death-penalty punishments by bypassing certain appeal processes, i.e., let’s hurry up the process so we can kill faster.  We understand the logic and disagree with it.

Vote No on Proposition 66.

Proposition 67

Proposition 67 is a referendum on a bill that California voters already passed in 2012 to ban single carryout bags. This bill essentially asks voters again if they feel the same as they did in 2012. The answer is yes — we want to eliminate these single-use bags from our environment. Besides, PLASTIC SUCKS. And what did people do before 1960? They did fine.

Vote Yes on Proposition 67.

Local Measures

County SOAR, Sustain VC, and City CURB and SOAR extension measures

Ventura County’s SOAR (Save Open space and Agricultural Resources) and several city SOAR and CURB (City Urban Restriction Boundary) initiatives throughout Ventura County are about to expire. These SOAR and CURB initiatives, if passed, give voters the opportunity to approve or deny major projects proposed on open space and ag land as they pertain to their own cities. The county initiative requires a vote of residents in unincorporated areas. (Note: If a project is on one side of the county, all voters in unincorporated areas can have a say on whether it passes.) These measures were designed to prevent urban sprawl and maintain rural buffers between cities that some counties, specifically Los Angeles, lack. These initiatives have done well in carrying out those goals since they were passed, and we understand the importance of preserving that bucolic landscape many appreciate and call home. There are some issues with the majority of the SOAR and CURB initiatives, though, such as being particularly restrictive for the farmland owners who understand the present and future of farming and their own needs better than the average voter. The biggest concern, however, is the year 2050 sunset of the majority of these measures. While we understand that voters could pass projects they like, should these landowners seek a vote, there are some voters who don’t want anything to change. And for the next 36 years, that seems like an especially long time to have such restrictions. There are city measures in the county that extend until 2030 and we feel that duration is more reasonable.

Conversely, Sustain VC would allow farmers to potentially develop farmland near schools without a vote of the people, allow more acreage (225 versus 12 under SOAR) to build food processing plants, and sunsets in 2036. But there are some serious issues with the lack of defined acreage that a farmer can build on near schools as well as designate for open space.  And with enough legal willpower, we have concerns that those loopholes could spawn the urban sprawl county residents have worked hard to prevent. And there is exponential value in continuing to farm and produce food that is sent all over the world. Ventura County is a player in meeting the needs of a global population and we don’t want to minimize that.

Though all of these measures may have their inherent flaws, being too cumbersome, unclear or running over decades, saving our open space and ag land while preventing urban sprawl is a top priority. Also, it’s not as if no projects will get voter approval. It’s just allowing the residents to have some say on how their cities and the county will shape up. With this, we hold our elected officials accountable to more quickly make the best use of the land already zoned for development and to focus on infill projects and rezoning that will benefit the needs of each community.

Vote Yes on SOAR and CURB extension initiatives, which includes measures, A, C, E, G, J, K, L, P, U and W. Note: Measures G and K extend SOAR/CURB boundaries until 2030. The others extend to 2050.

Vote No on Sustain VC, Measure F.

County of Ventura — Measure AA

Measure AA would help preserve Ventura County’s quality of life by fixing potholes, repaving streets, repairing bridges; improving traffic flow and safety on 101 and 118; keeping senior, veteran, disabled and student bus fares affordable; increasing bicycle and pedestrian safety; protecting waterways and beaches from polluted runoff and restoring watersheds. Ventura County’s sales tax will be increased by one-half cent for 30 years, raising $70 million annually, with independent oversight and audits, and with all funds benefiting local residents.

While 30 years seems long, we understand the ongoing need and the regular complaints about traffic and all transportation concerns addressed in the initiative. Further, the county will finally be able to get millions in matching funds from the state and federal government to take on major projects, such as widening the 101 and 118. We can’t ignore our growing population. Also, we do especially like the accountability clause: independent oversight and audits. Let’s help ourselves by passing this measure.

Vote Yes on Measure AA.

Fillmore — Measure H   

If Proposition 64 passes, Measure H would create a permanent tax, not to exceed $30 per square foot, for the first 3,000 square feet of space, and not to exceed $15 per square foot for the remaining space, used for the cultivation of marijuana, and providing for increases of the greater of CPI (consumer price index) or $1 and 35 cents, respectively, every five years, and that is expected to raise approximately $140,000 in tax revenue for the city annually.

Vote Yes on Measure H.

Fillmore — Measure I

Measure I would create a permanent tax not to exceed 15 percent of all proceeds of marijuana sales in the city, which is anticipated to raise approximately $665,000 in tax revenue for the city annually.

Vote Yes on Measure I.

Fillmore Unified School District — Measure V

Fillmore Unified isn’t regularly asking for tax measures to benefit the district. We feel this is a good time for the district to get out ahead of the curve with necessary updates for the schools.  The Fillmore Unified School District would issue $35 million in bonds at legal rates, with independent citizen oversight audits, no money for administrator salaries, and all money staying local to benefit Fillmore Unified students and schools.

Vote Yes on Measure V.

Oxnard — Measure M

Direct democracy is a dual-edged sword. When voters feel that their elected officials are not serving their best interest or, even worse, that these officials are creating legislation and ordinances that actually harm voters, being able to take up causes through the voter-driven initiative process can be empowering. Measure M, however, is not the right case for direct democracy and could set a dangerous precedent for Oxnard residents. Measure M would effectively repeal the City Council’s approved increases for wastewater rates and return them to the previous rates. In the meantime, residents complain about the city’s reactive responses to wastewater problems rather than being proactive about preventing them. We know Oxnard has had some serious financial issues in the past, but blocking the City Council’s effectiveness to address obvious problems is not the best path to go down. We recommend that residents continue to protest rates at City Council meetings and also at the ballot box by voting for new leaders.

Vote No on Measure M.

Oxnard School District – Measure D

Measure D would allow Oxnard School District to be authorized up to $142.5 million to acquire, construct and modernize additional classrooms and support facilities to reduce overcrowding, replace portable classrooms and older schools with new permanent facilities, increase student access to computers and modern classroom technology, improve student safety, reduce operating costs and qualify to receive state funds, with an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, annual audits, and no money for administrator salaries.

Oxnard School District voters just approved a bond initiative (Measure R) in 2012 for $90 million. The district needs to figure out how to better use the money it has available rather than continuously asking district residents for more money.

Vote No on Measure D.

Santa Paula — Blanchard Library District Measure B

In 2012, Santa Paula voters passed a local measure to increase the spending limit to $350,000 more than the Gann Limit for the Blanchard/Santa Paula Library District, which makes up for about half of the $670,000-plus annual budget. Santa Paula voters have continuously approved this spending increase limit for the library district since 1994. For the sake of reading and knowledge and the importance of libraries, this measure should be extended yet again, from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2022.

Vote Yes on Measure B.

Santa Paula — Measure T

While this measure may be well-intended, the focus of the 1-cent-sales tax increase for 20 years is specifically on police and fire, with whatever is left over going to street repair and that’s not clear. This proposed tax seems a little high and for too long for only police and fire to receive majority of the benefits. Further, with such an increase, local residents may be forced to shop elsewhere, where the sales tax rate is lower.

Vote No On Measure T.

Ventura — Measure N

This initiative seems clear, that the selection of mayor and deputy mayor will occur in even-numbered election years and the Ventura Unified School District will be on its own, subject to state law versus being beholden to the city Charter. One thing that we can’t ignore is the vague language about having the selection process for the City Council being determined by ordinance. What that means exactly is unclear and clarity is of the utmost importance in passing legislation.

Vote No on Measure N.

Ventura — Measure O

At its present 7.5 percent, Ventura’s current sales tax is the lowest in the state.  It’s true that the city is old and has an infrastructure that is in need of work. This is the story that the city manager and mayor are telling, and while their points are plain to see, we wish that this tax measure would target infrastructure improvements alone.

Increasing tax revenue is only one of several solutions that the city needs to focus on so that Ventura succeeds in the future. The others are reasonable growth of businesses and population (read: housing), both of which will generate more tax revenue for the city. Ventura is naturally seeing growth in tax revenue with a stronger economy but is not as robust as many other areas in the state that are seeing larger increases, in part due to stronger economic strategies.

And we find it odd that three of the few donors to this campaign are the mayor, city manager and police chief. 

When the economy heads sideways (as it will after a seven-year upward trend) we’ll need more than a half-penny tax to keep us moving in the right direction. City Hall has given voters cause for pause with some of the decisions it’s made in the recent past, leading some to distrust how money is being spent. While a population growth of half of 1 percent is nice for those who pine for the old days to return, Ventura must face the future or suffer from an aging population who will not be in a position to pay more taxes. We’ll be watching to see if the money is well-spent or a reflection of changes needed in City Hall.

Vote Yes on Measure O.

Ventura — Measure Q

Term limits can pose obvious problems when it comes to effective leaders being able to carry on for the common good, especially given the fact that local voters can elect new leaders with every election cycle. Unfortunately, with smaller cities, such as Ventura, the familiar name will get voted in for every relevant election cycle because, simply, it’s a name voters know. Further, Ventura voters are not always aware of how these individual elected officials shape and mold their cities, and then these same voters get frustrated that the status quo isn’t working out to their benefit. We feel that term limits would help shake things up in Ventura and bring new ideas to the City Council.

Vote Yes on Measure Q.

Ventura Unified School District — Measure R

Measure R would aid in preserving and improving academic programs, including reading, writing, music, art, science and math; fund computer technology; retain qualified teachers; and assist in maintaining career and technical training programs. This measure would renew Ventura Unified School District’s existing $59 parcel tax for four years, so long as an independent citizens’ oversight committee is required, all funds are spent on neighborhood schools, and no money is used for administrative salaries or taken by the state and spent elsewhere.

Ventura residents passed this same initiative as Measure Q in 2012. It seems to have served the district and the students well. It was, however, passed during harder economic times. An annual parcel tax of $59 isn’t much to ask.

Vote Yes on Measure R­.