Ventura County

This includes races I’m personally voting in (in Oxnard), as well as other races I’ve researched through Ventura County YIMBY.

See also endorsements from Ventura County YIMBY. I was involved in that endorsement process, and mirror all those endorsements here, including some of the language from our site and the YIMBY Action text.

Countywide or cross-city offices

Julia Brownley for CA-26 House district

She’s the Democrat.

Jacqui Irwin for Assembly District 44

She’s the Democrat.

Monique Limon for Senate District 19

She’s the Democrat.

Carmen Ramirez for District 5 Supervisor

Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez and Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn are running for the county supervisor seat vacated by John Zaragoza, who’s termed out and running for Oxnard Mayor (I’m voting for him). Ramirez is simply the more pro-housing choice. She advocated forcefully for a homeless shelter. She supported compliance with a state accessory dwelling unit law, which Flynn wrongly claimed would worsen overcrowding (it would do the opposite). While both Ramirez and Flynn voted against the Fisherman’s Wharf apartment development, she has committed to adding housing at the site, unlike Flynn.

Ramirez was also the only candidate to complete the VC YIMBY questionnaire. Her pro-housing responses earned our endorsement:

As Oxnard’s Mayor Pro Tem, Ramirez has consistently supported housing projects, accessory dwelling unit streamlining, and homelessness services, and has demonstrated intent to bring inclusive housing policy to the entire county. In our questionnaire, Ramirez said that farmworkers, disabled people, and seniors “are too often priced out and have to live in miserable and overcrowded conditions, which leads to the fraying of our society,” and that “we also need to support transportation options that will get people out of their cars and help to avoid the climate changes that are getting worse every day as people still drive gas powered vehicles.”

Joe Ramirez for Community College Board Area 3

Stan Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, Nicole Wall, retired teacher, and Joe Ramirez, retired college administrator, are vying for a spot on the Community College Board.

Mantooth and Ramirez are similarly qualified, with leadership and administrative experience in educational institutions, while Wall’s campaign emphasizes social justice. But Ramirez’s website includes more policy specifics, such as preparing more people to work in healthcare.

Yes on Measure O

Measure O legalizes and taxes the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of cannabis. This honestly shouldn’t even be necessary: California voted by 14 points to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016, and the law took effect on January 1, 2018. But nearly three years later, many places have still banned it. Measure O doesn’t go far enough–it still restricts locations and imposes onerously high taxes– but it’s a step toward respecting the will of California voters, that also raises $3 million in annual tax revenue and brings an underground business above board where it can be appropriately regulated.

Camarillo

Heather Schmidt for Camarillo City Council, District 4

VC YIMBY endorsed Schmidt:

Schmidt is exceptionally knowledgeable and supportive of all areas of housing and transportation reform, from the history and consequences of exclusionary zoning to the legislation and local actions that can make our communities more safe and affordable. She believes adding housing of all types is the key to affordability, saying in our questionnaire that she is “definitely in support of legalizing residential buildings up to five stories near major transit jobs and in job-rich areas…I also believe that a diversity of affordable housing options mixed in through out the single family home communities…is the right way to go.” We agree!

Ojai

Jeri Becker for Ojai City Council, District 4

Becker is aiming to unseat incumbent Suza Francina. Francina’s responses to the YIMBY questionnaire were generally pro-housing, for example expressing sadness that so many people who work in Ojai commute from other cities, and supporting fourplex legalization. But she’s presided over extremely slow growth in Ojai (where only 15 to 16 new homes are allowed to be built each year), and throughout her campaign has condemned the sorts of large developments needed to address the housing crisis:

Developers benefit greatly from the affordable housing law when they build large developments and only a small percentage are actually affordable. Their developments take a ton of water and increase traffic, but don’t increase the sustainability, diversity, and resilience of the community in a meaningful way. Advocacy for 100% affordable developments, of small size, accomplishes more than a massive development where only 15% of the units are affordable and 85% are market rate.

Francina also opposes short-term rentals, which provide extra income for homeowners and needed extra flexible housing supply—for example, many of my grad school classmates from outside the US used Airbnb. There’s no reason for short-term rentals to displace long-term residents if more housing is allowed to be built.

Becker, on the other hand, supports housing from all angles, as demonstrated both in her VC YIMBY questionnaire and in a phone call I had with her.

VC YIMBY endorsed Becker:

Becker started off her questionnaire response by saying, “There is a housing crisis. I know, I see it daily…This crisis will not only affect every individual but also our City’s financial health, and the health of our businesses. Let’s make smart decisions that give Ojai a chance to continue to be livable and healthy.” From lobbying Sacramento to allow housing on church property, to proposing housing developments near transit, to advocating reduced fees on low-income housing, Becker has supported housing from many angles, and would bring that perspective to making Ojai more inclusive.

Yes on Ojai USD Measure N

VC YIMBY endorsed Measure N:

Measure N holds city services hostage on vehicle infrastructure, promising to deny sales tax revenue if pavement standards aren’t met. Threatening the city’s safety and security by cutting off funding for fire and emergency response is grotesque, especially for the sole purpose of making driving more pleasant.

Oxnard

John Zaragoza for Oxnard Mayor

Zaragoza, who is termed out after serving as county supervisor and previously served on Oxnard city council, is running against Deirdre Frank, chair of the Oxnard planning commission, and Richard Linares.

Zaragoza has supported housing at Fisherman’s Wharf as a county supervisor (a project I advocated), though he also supported a 2016 measure that extended SOAR through 2050; SOAR prevents farmers from building housing on their agricultural land. However, his main opponent Deirdre Frank led the planning commission as it denied apartments at the wharf, and her website’s only housing-related content is a video of her seven-minute denunciation of the project.

Linares is not running a professional campaign. His primary occupation appears to be as a promoter, and most of his social media content is religious in nature.

VC YIMBY endorsed Zaragoza:

A current Ventura County supervisor and former Oxnard councilmember, Zaragoza has considerable experience working on local issues and supporting projects that provide needed housing to the city and county.

Oscar Madrigal for Oxnard City Council, District 3

Madrigal, the incumbent, is running against Ronald Arruejo and Aaron Starr.

Madrigal was the only councilmember to vote for the Fisherman’s Wharf development, though he was also one of two who voted against a homeless shelter. However, his responses to the VC YIMBY questionnaire were more pro-housing than those from Arruejo, who said “Five stories will not be in keeping with the city’s character.”

Aaron Starr is a notorious character in Oxnard, having sponsored four of the five ballot measures this cycle and numerous others in the past. I’m voting no on all four of his measures, but notably, his Measure N would hold city services hostage on road infrastructure. He opposes taxes and doesn’t mention housing on his website.

VC YIMBY endorsed Madrigal:

Madrigal connects housing segregation to school segregation, saying “As a teacher, I see this everyday.” As an incumbent, he has shown a commitment to bringing down housing costs, and would continue to do so if re-elected.

Steve Hall and Gary Davis for Oxnard Union High School District Board

Incumbents Steve Hall and Gary Davis are fighting for re-election, with Elizabeth Botello, Geoffrey Crosby, and Janessa Garcia vying for one of the two open spots. All candidates emphasize similar issues: transparency, . As no questionnaires have revealed major differences between the candidates, I am voting for the two most qualified candidates: the incumbents. Both Hall and Davis have doctorates in Education, have served on the OUHSD board since 2012, and have been administrators and leaders in local educational institutions for years or decades. Amid a crisis like the pandemic, that kind of experience and stability will serve students well.

Hall has a M.S. in Statistics from San Diego State and a doctorate in Education from Pepperdine, has been a math teacher and administrator at Oxnard College, and was President of Ventura County Federation of College Teachers from 2010 to 2017.

Davis has a doctorate in Education from USC and has served OUHSD as superintendent and in other leadership roles over 40 years.

Botello has been an educator and administrator at Oxnard High School since 2015, and master’s degrees from UC Berkeley and UCLA in Journalism and Education, respectively. She is also well-qualified, but I’m concerned about conflicts of interest from serving on the board while also working as an educator.

Garcia is a student at Cal Lutheran University. She’s running a positive, student-powered campaign, but lacks the experience of other candidates to hit the ground running at a critical time for the district.

Crosby is an executive and business owner. Despite his emphasis on transparency on his website, he did not respond to the VC Star’s transparency questionnaire.

James Aragon for Oxnard Treasurer

James Aragon, a contract analyst, is running against incumbent Phillip Molina. A VC Star questionnaire and League of Women Voters forum failed to reveal substantial policy differences between the candidates—if anything, they seem to credit each other with having similar views. Both are nominally qualified, with MBAs and finance experience. On a political level, neither is appealing: Aragon is voting for Republican Aaron Starr for City Council, and one of Molina’s few posts on his campaign site is from an “All Lives Matter” protest.

Instead, I’m voting primarily on the relationship with City Hall. Molina was elected in 2016, and City Council took away some of his job responsibilities after an investigator identified malfeasance, spurring Measure L which would restore these duties. Both candidates support L (I’m voting against it). A new treasurer would ease this toxicity.

Jess Ramirez and Celina Zacarias for Harbor District 1 Commissioner

Jess Ramirez and Celina Zacarias are the incumbents, and only apparently serious candidates. Challengers O’Leary, a retired educator and former Oxnard School District Trustee, and Fraser, the former president and CEO of the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce, have neither a website nor Facebook page.

Yes on Oxnard Measure E

VC YIMBY endorsed Measure E:

Amid extraordinary budget shortfalls due to the pandemic, cities need funding to continue critical services. This 1½¢ sales tax will maintain critical homelessness services and other priorities.

No on Oxnard Measure F

Measure F would move part of the permitting process to authorized third parties, creating unnecessary bureaucracy under the shroud of “expedited processing.” I fully support permit streamlining, but this isn’t it; the city can decide the best way to permit.

No on Oxnard Measure L

Measure L restores duties to the City Treasurer, whose responsibilities were cut following a city-led investigation into malfeasance. This is an issue for the city to deal with, not voters directly.

No on Oxnard Measure M

Measure M requires rule alterations for city meetings. Having attended many such meetings, the problem I’ve observed is what needs to go to a meeting (rather than being by-right), not whether materials are shared early enough. This would slow down operations, and isn’t fit for voters to decide directly; city council can make these calls.

No on Oxnard Measure N

VC YIMBY recommended voting No on Measure N:

Measure N holds city services hostage on vehicle infrastructure, promising to deny sales tax revenue if pavement standards aren’t met. Threatening the city’s safety and security by cutting off funding for fire and emergency response is grotesque, especially for the sole purpose of making driving more pleasant.

Santa Paula

Margaux Bangs for Santa Paula City Council

VC YIMBY endorsed Bangs:

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, Bangs understands the importance of growth and development to ensure cities thrive. Her answers to our candidate questionnaire were pro housing, and she has made affordable housing and rents a key part of her campaign.

Simi Valley

Joe Ayala for Simi Valley Mayor

Ayala is among five candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Keith Mashburn. Mashburn has opposed housing as mayor, including overseeing an abhorrent attempt to deny an affordable senior housing development, in defiance of state law.

Ayala was one of two candidates for mayor who filled out the VC YIMBY questionnaire, and he gave the more pro-housing responses. He also has a strong background and has a solid chance to replace the conservative Mashburn.

VC YIMBY endorsed Ayala:

Ayala, a veteran and union negotiator, is currently running to unseat anti-housing Simi Valley mayor Keith Mashburn. Having grown up working class, Ayala understands the hardships renters face. He has stated he is looking to increase the development of missing middle housing to house Simi Valley’s workforce, saying in our questionnaire that, “All people need affordable homes where they can feel safe and secure in their community.”

Phil Loos for Simi Valley City Council, District 1

Loos is challenging incumbent Dee Dee Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh has presided over an awful city council that has sought to defy state law in rejecting an affordable senior housing development. She also made insulting remarks about a Latina fellow councilmember. Cavanaugh’s website has no housing plan.

Loos, on the other hand, has a thorough housing page that states his proposed solution to economic stagnation, skyrocketing housing costs, and flat city revenues:

Mixed-use developments to attract younger workers and spur economic development

Affordable and attainable housing for young workers, working class families, and seniors on fixed incomes

Ryan Valencia for Simi Valley City Council, District 3

Similarly to Loos, Valencia is challenging an anti-density incumbent, Elaine Litster, on a pro-housing, pro-transit platform that emphasizes workforce housing and homelessness.

Simi Valley needs new leadership (other than Ruth Luevanos): Ayala, Loos, and Valencia will provide it.

Thousand Oaks

Danny Chulack and Al Adam for Thousand Oaks City Council

Two of eight candidates will fill open city council seats in Thousand Oaks. Danny Chulack and incumbent Al Adam are the pro-housing options.

Adam has supported the the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan, the mixed-use T.O. Ranch project, and other housing in his tenure.

Chulack had the most pro-housing views of the three candidates who completed the VC YIMBY questionnaire.

Other candidates don’t recognize the housing crisis. Frank Enderle strongly opposes walkable communities. Joel Price “believes cities, not the state, should dictate the character of their community.” (That’s code for, “cities should have the power to deny needed housing.”) While Dan Twedt has followed YIMBY content and cited Henry George’s book, Progress and Poverty, three times in his questionnaire (probably the single most influential book I’ve read), he also strongly disagrees with building housing at all levels of affordability, and has unrealistic ideas on improving Thousand Oaks, such as tunneling.

VC YIMBY endorsed Chulack:

Chulack has made housing a top campaign issue, especially for students, seniors, and people experiencing homelessness. He recognizes that protecting Thousand Oaks’s open space is not in conflict with addressing the housing shortage. He said in our questionnaire, “I am committed to building more affordable housing in the city.”

Ventura

Doug Halter for Ventura City Council, District 2

Halter is running to unseat Christy Weir. Dougie Michie is also running from the right.

Weir is a major NIMBY. From her website:

Historical buildings should be preserved and renovated to remind us of the importance of Ventura’s heritage. New buildings should conform to strict quality and design standards, to enhance the beauty of our natural setting. There should be limits on “high density” and mixed use development to prevent over-urbanization.

Halter and Michie both completed the VC YIMBY candidate questionnaire, and while Michie was generally pro-housing, he also made dog-whistles against “aggressive” homeless people, and promised to “oppose any and all proposals to increase taxeson Ventura’s citizens.”

Halter is the liberal, pro-housing candidate to remove a NIMBY from power.

VC YIMBY endorsed Halter:

Halter deeply understands the causes and consequences of our housing shortage, and supports housing at all levels, especially infill. In our questionnaire, he said, “Affordable housing; infill construction before considering any encroachment on farmland and higher density…are a big part of the solutions we need and my desire to run for office.” He has also served the community as a commissioner and board member of several organizations, bringing him the experience, knowledge, and disposition to get more housing built in Ventura.

Aaron Gaston for Ventura City Council, District 3

Gaston is competing against Barbara Brown and Mike Johnson. William Cornell is nominally running but doesn’t seem to have a serious campaign.

Gaston is the pro-housing option. In his website, he demonstrated support for homeless shelters:

Ventura has taken a step in the right direction with ARCH, our new year-round shelter, and I would continue to support projects like this and others that address homelessness.

And in the Midtown Community Council forum, Gaston’s leading statement focused on the housing crisis, calling for affordable homes, moderate homes, and executive homes. In the forum he also supported infill projects to reduce traffic, supported density,and called for reducing the power of design review committee and historic preservation committee, which can often block projects.

Brown offers the starkest contrast to Gaston on housing. In the forum, she didn’t include housing in her list of top three priorities. She said of Ventura residents, “They don’t want large developments, don’t want three-, four-, five-, six- story developments.” She was also the fiercest advocate for retaining the historic and design review committees, and she’s endorsed by Distrinct 2 NIMBY incumbent Christy Weir.

Johnson sits in between Brown and Gaston. His website disparaged state housing bills like SB 330, but he also supported streamlining, fee reduction, and infill development. In the candidate forum, his number-2 priority was “more housing, market rate and affordable,” and number-3 was homelessness. He supported preserving the design review and historic preservation committees, but potentially reducing their power to block projects. However, he’s endorsed by the NIMBY group Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation (which also endorsed Christy Weir).

Beyond his housing views, Gaston has experience in the technology field, which would bring new needed perspective on growing Ventura’s economy with new firms like the successful TheTradeDesk.

Nancy Pedersen for Ventura City Council, District 7

Pedersen is running against Joe Schroeder; other candidates Heather May Ellinger and Michael James Nolan do not appear to be running serious campaigns.

Pedersen’s website calls for “providing an appropriate level of desirable housing options.”

Schroeder’s website doesn’t mention housing, and he is endorsed by NIMBYs such as Christy Weir and Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation.

Yes on Ventura USD Measure H

VC YIMBY endorsed Measure H:

This four-year renewal of a $59 parcel tax would fund a range of academic programs. We’re especially fond of parcel taxes since they tax single family homes more than apartments (apartment complexes are treated as single parcels), making this a pro-housing way to help our children succeed.