Oxnard’s City Council will decide, at its regular Tuesday, Jan. 23, meeting, when to hold an election that could remove four of its own members, thanks to a successful recall campaign by local activist and two-time former City Council candidate Aaron Starr.
With help from volunteers, Starr got more than enough people to sign petitions to recall Mayor Tim Flynn and Councilmembers Bert Perello, Carmen Ramirez and Oscar Madrigal. On July 18 those four voted to raise wastewater rates effective Sept. 1.
The only councilmember not targeted in the recall effort is Bryan MacDonald, who hesitated to support the rate increase of about 5 percent annually over the next five years, voicing reservations on the first reading of the ordinance but supporting it on the second reading.
“I was not in favor of the rate increase. I kind of got the feeling we were writing a blank check,” said MacDonald. “I wanted to see how we were going to spend (the extra revenue).”
Oxnard City Clerk Michelle Ascencion said the council could pick any Tuesday from April 24 to May 22 for the special election.
Ramirez said that councilmembers won’t let the special election distract them from their tasks, which include finding a new city manager to replace Greg Nyhoff, who has taken a job in Vallejo.
“Nothing’s on hold; it would be irresponsible to put the functions of the city on hold for any reason,” Ramirez said.
“I know some people like the state of chaos that they create, but it isn’t good for our residents,” Ramirez said. “I have every confidence that I’ll be there when the smoke clears.”
Perello said that recalling councilmembers won’t address the reason rates had to be raised in the first place, the city’s aging infrastructure. He said that two recent sewage spills point out the system’s vulnerability.
“No matter who sits in those seats, they’re going to be dealing with the reality that Oxnard’s wastewater system is in need of repair,” Perello said. “The era of patching things with bailing wire and chewing gum is past.”
On Nov. 15 Starr turned in more than 68,379 signatures to the Ventura County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to be validated. On Dec. 28, Starr had at least the necessary 12,043 signatures verified for each councilmember, or 15 percent of the votes cast the 2016 City Council election.
Also, on Jan. 17, the City Council will consider the first draft of district election maps. See https://www.oxnard.org/draft-district-maps/.