Oxnard City Council endorsements

Mayor

The last three years of Tim Flynn’s administration has been dominated by the battle over a wastewater rate increase. Challenger Aaron Starr won the latest round of that battle when a judge ruled Oxnard voters legally repealed that increase. But the battle isn’t over: The city can still appeal the ruling. Deciding whether to vote for Flynn, Starr or Mario Quintana comes down to whether one believes the rate increase is necessary. We believe it is. The notion that Oxnard’s older-than-the-hills infrastructure can be fixed without raising rates flies in the face of fiscal reality and only delays the inevitable — rates will have to be raised sooner or later. Among his accomplishments, Flynn has reduced graffiti, repaved streets and improved the permit application process. Vote for Tim Flynn.

District 1

Kenneth Oplinger’s 26 years of experience in municipal government are the deciding factor in a contest among three solid candidates. Despite the recentness of the Thomas Fire, Oplinger is the only candidate to talk about disaster preparedness and addressing climate change. Unlike other candidates who talk about letting churches and nonprofits deal with the homeless in Oxnard — a polite way of saying, “they’re not our problem,” — Oplinger believes city government should be actively involved in dealing with a matter that isn’t going to go away. Oplinger’s economic development plans dovetail with Mayor Tim Flynn’s oft-stated goal of bringing higher paying jobs to the city. Incumbent Bert Perello and challenger Kari Cryder are both capable — Perello has clearly demonstrated how much he cares and is willing — but Oxnard needs someone who not only has experience but is forward-thinking. Vote for Kenneth Oplinger.

District 2

Incumbent Carmen Ramirez has a long list of accomplishments during her tenure since 2008 as a City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro-Tem. She touts financial responsibility, steadiness during the hardest times on the city, such as the DA investigation, and a caring and compromising attitude when it comes to a plethora of concerns facing both residents and city staff. She survived a recall election, is bilingual and is absolutely dedicated to environmental health. Vote for Carmen Ramirez.

District 5

Of the three people competing for this spot, one can be quickly eliminated — Larry Stein should stick to harassing the City Council at meetings. Elizabeth White and Gabriela Basua are both capable and knowledgeable. The critical difference between them is that Basua’s professional experience has been with the City of Port Hueneme, but White’s is with the City of Oxnard. She is familiar with City Hall and aware of the issues facing South Oxnard. White chairs the Cypress Neighborhood Council and so has been actively representing her Spanish-speaking, working class neighborhood; she worked with Oxnard’s downtown special business district manager. White has business experience as past manager of private bus and shuttle operator Pegasus Transit. Most importantly, she is the only candidate who has emphasized Oxnard’s need to work with the Port of Hueneme on its tentative plans to expand, which would bring jobs to a blighted district. Vote for Elizabeth White.

District 6

Army veteran Francine Castanon’s platform targets the needs of the district. Those include improved public safety with more sidewalks and streetlights and making sure the police and fire departments have enough resources to provide service to South Oxnard. But the most important skill Castanon would bring to the council is her sharp grasp of municipal financing and spending. That skill has come in handy more than once during Castanon’s five years on Oxnard’s Commission on Homelessness, as she made sure organizations that serve Oxnard’s homeless got critically needed federal funds. Vote for Francine Castanon.

Ventura City Council

District 1

District 1, which includes roughly half of downtown Ventura and all of the West Side, is a diverse swath of neighborhoods that needs a representative knowledgeable and committed to the population that live and work there. Of the four candidates running, two stand out for consideration: Kevin Clerici and Sofia Rubalcava.

As executive director of the Downtown Ventura Partnership, Kevin Clerici has the most experience working with the business community, city and council and would be a solid representative for Ventura’s west side business interests. District-based elections, however, are meant to bring forth the best representative of the entire district, someone who can speak for everyone. Having lived close to downtown, Clerici recently moved to District 1 earlier this year.

Sofia Rubalcava grew up on the West Side, the daughter of first generation immigrants who moved to Ventura in the 1970s. At a candidate forum on Oct. 3, Rubalcava addressed attendees in both Spanish and English.

Her experience as the former district translator for the Ventura Unified School District as well as her role being a union representative gives her an edge at bridging the gap between the long underrepresented West Side and the rest of the city.

Likewise, Rubalcava would be a strong advocate for environmental protections and cleanup, as the district bears the depressing title of being the most environmentally polluted in the city.

The West Side needs a representative that can serve as both the face and voice of its community. If you believe that City Council should reflect the people in their district, vote for Sofia Rubalcava.

District 4

The race for District 4 is proving to be one of the most contentions battles when it comes to challenging incumbent Erik Nasarenko. Over the last five years since he was first elected to City Council, Nasarenko has maintained a balanced and caring perspective when it comes to the district and the concerns of Venturans in general. He has proven that he takes his role in addressing residents’ needs seriously, attending and leading important events, being educated and informed and doing what he says he is going to do.

It’s hard to argue against Nasarenko’s reelection, even if he does want to seek higher office down the road. Nasarenko has not only dedicated himself to his role on the Council, but also has spent his career prosecuting sex offenders and balances his priorities with being family man, a tall task for anyone but Nasarenko continues to do so. Vote for Erik Nasarenko.

District 5

Jim Friedman and Marie Lakin are practically household names in Ventura. Friedman not only served two terms as a City Councilman from 1995-2003 and as mayor 1997-1999, but has been a Ventura Harbor Port Commissioner since 2012. Friedman is running again with the hopes to changing the status quo of the makeup of the City Council. Lakin has been actively involved in the community for years from writing her own blog for the daily paper, working for former State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and serving on numerous boards to raise money for all sorts of issues, from preserving the Serra Cross to enriching the art community and benefiting education.

While Friedman brings his professional business acumen to the table, Lakin brings years of understanding the inner workings of government. At this point, however, it’s about passion and perseverance and we feel Lakin shines in those arenas. We feel the residents of District 5 will be heard should Lakin fill that seat. Vote for Marie Lakin.

District 6

District 6 seems to be one of the least contentious races for the new district-based election cycle. With only two people running, it could certainly be a tossup. While Charles Kistner Jr. touts experience as a campaign manager, Lorrie Brown works as a management assistant and educator. The race itself has been pretty low key. Brown, however, has demonstrated a profound commitment to serving on the City Council — this is her third run, first in 2013, and then in 2016. With the creation of the districts, we feel she can finally show the city what she is made of. Third time’s a charm, perhaps. Vote for Lorrie Brown.