Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voters Face Wide Array Of Choices

Local races, from city council to water board, make for full ballot on Tuesday

By Daryl Kelley
Rarely have Ojai Valley voters had clearer choices than those they face on Tuesday as the long campaign for local, state and federal offices comes to a close.
Beyond the historic race for U.S. president, local voters will be picking a congressman, state legislators and an array of local officials, including two for the Ojai City Council and two more for the Ojai Valley’s most important water board.
After choosing between Barack Obama and John McCain, local voters will cast their ballots for a host of potential lawmakers that are even more starkly different than the presidential aspirants.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, 64, a conservative who has consistently backed President Bush, seems a safe bet to return to Congress for a 12th term, despite an anti-Bush backlash that threatens Republicans in some of the strongest GOP districts in the nation.
That’s because his challenger in the 24th Congressional District, a former nurse and computer teacher, Marta Jorgensen of Solvang, has run almost no campaign. She’s failed to raise much money to offset the incumbent’s nearly $1-million bankroll, or to effectively press her environmental platform and fervent opposition to the Iraq War.
Jorgensen, 54, who has been sued by her former campaign manager for back pay, has said she’s relying on the coattails of Obama to gain election in a district with a strong Republican advantage in registered voters.
In one of the most interesting and costly races for the California Legislature, Ojai voters will also consider the differences between the philosophical bookends running for the 19th State Senate seat, Hannah-Beth Jackson and Tony Strickland.
Together, they and their supporters have spent more than $8 million on an avalanche of TV ads and mailers that seek to define their opponent in the starkest terms.
Jackson, 58, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, was a family lawyer before she became one of the Assembly’s most liberal members from 1998 until 2004. She’s been backed consistently by environmentalists, labor unions and social service advocates and opposed by pro-business, anti-tax and law enforcement groups.
Strickland, 38, a Republican from Moorpark, had never really held a job outside of politics when he became the Assembly’s youngest and one of its most conservative members while serving the same six-tear tenure as Jackson. He has been supported as a reliable pro-business, anti-tax and small government vote. After leaving office, he established a group to punish Republicans he saw as too willing to compromise with Democrats.
Now, both candidates are seeking support from moderate voters, who may decide the race, since voter registration in the once-safe Republican district is split almost evenly after a surge of Democratic registration this year.
Strickland is running as an “independent” thinker who has founded a company to promote renewable energy, despite his past opposition to alternative energy bills. He’s gained Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement. But critics say his new stance is a ruse to give Strickland a position from which to campaign at a time when voters seem turned off by polarized politics. Strickland’s fledgling company has no employees and is awaiting permits to test wave energy.
Jackson is running as a protector of the middle class and the environment, highlighting her support of Obama and Strickland’s past support of Bush policies. She’s maintained that she voted to rein in subprime mortgage lenders in 2001, while Strickland rejected the same law as undue government control.
But she’s had to fight a Strickland campaign that tars her as “Taxin’ Jackson,” a politician who never saw a new tax she didn’t like. She’s supported by the Sierra Club, but opposed by a prominent anti-tax group. Strickland, meanwhile touts the support of Ventura County’s sheriff and district attorney.
Strickland is anti-abortion, while Jackson supports a woman’s right to choose.
Those stark differences are also clear in the 37th Assembly District, in which Audra Strickland, a former legislative aide and private school teacher, is seeking a third and final term. She replaced husband Tony in the seat in 2004, when he reached the maximum three terms Assembly members can serve.
Audra Strickland, 36, is opposed for the third time by Ferial Masry, 59, a high school government teacher from Newbury Park. The native of Saudia Arabia would be one of the first Muslim women elected to state office in the United States if she prevails. Masry has lost twice to Strickland by double-digit margins.
Although Democrats have made registration gains in the 37th District, Republicans retain a 7 percentage point advantage. In addition, Audra Strickland has run on her opposition to new taxes of any kind, her responsiveness to constituents and, in recent months, her leadership in opposing construction of a state prison hospital near Camarillo.
Masry, in turn, has run as an “independent Democrat,” and a “breath of fresh air,” who has business experience through ownership of a small company with her husband. She has said that construction of new court-ordered prison hospitals, such as the one near Camarillo, is a sign of the failure of California lawmakers like Strickland to fix a substandard health care system for inmates.
Other races on Tuesday’s ballot include a seat on the Ventura County Board of Education, in which pediatric dentist Mark Lisagor, 61, is challenging incumbent Chris Valenzano, 29, an emergency medical technician who was once an Assembly aide to Tony Strickland.
A majority of the Ojai Unified School District board has endorsed Lisagor.
The race for two seats on the Ojai City Council has been aggressive, but civil, with five candidates vying.
Joining veteran council members Rae Hanstad and Sue Horgan on the ballot are former Mayor Suza Francina, small business owner Betsy Clapp and federal government investigator Michael Lenehan.
While the candidates say they are running separate and independent races, incumbents Hanstad and Horgan each signed the other’s nomination papers, and challengers Francina and Clapp did the same for one another.
Lenehan, 47, a coach and Recreation Department member, said he thinks the current City Council is doing a good job and that he probably would not have run if the incumbents had not first bowed out of the race, then re-entered it in July.
The incumbents said they decided to seek a third full term because of unfinished city business, such as construction of a new skate park and a decision on how to meet a state mandate that Ojai provide more affordable housing.
Challengers Clapp and Francina, meanwhile, say they are running because the city needs a change in leadership. The incumbents have not been responsive to residents, they maintain, and have not moved forward quickly enough with actions to support their adopted goal of making Ojai an environmentally sensitive community.
Clapp, 57, and Francina, a 59-year-old author and yoga teacher, said they are running on platforms that include policies embraced by the fast-growing Ojai Valley Green Coalition.
“It’s time for the City Council to follow through in creating a truly sustainable Ojai,” Francina said.
In fact, the City Council did endorse those principles in May, when it pledged to embrace an array of new strategies to make the Ojai Valley a “green” community that laces economic, social and ecological needs into the fabric of everyday life.
Hanstad and Horgan specifically said then that it was time to make such concepts part of government and community life.
“Ojai’s natural setting and magnificent environment must be protected,” Horgan, 53, said.
Hanstad, 57, stated similar views, saying her goals were to preserve Ojai’s “hometown character” while balancing its three primary assets, “a natural environment, a diverse character, and a healthy economy.”
Also on the Tuesday ballot are seats to direct the Casitas Municipal Water District, the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, the Meiners Oaks Water District and the valley Municipal Advisory Committee.
There are competitive races for two Casitas Water board seats, In a district centered in Ventura, incumbent Jim Word is challenged by retail salesperson David Norrdin. In a district that includes Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte, incumbent Pete Kaiser is challenged by substitute teacher Jeff Ketelsen. Both Norrdin and Ketelsen are perennial candidates who have never won a competitive race.
For the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, two seats are contested: incumbent William Stone is challenged by state license contractor George Galgas in Division 1; incumbent Kaiser is challenged by Frank McNerney and Ketelsen in Division 3.
On the Ojai Valley MAC, incumbent Alan Saltzman is challenged by Gerald Kaplan in Division 7.
For the Meiners Oaks Water board, incumbents James Barrett and Karol Ballantine are challenged by retired business owner Norm Davis.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Election officials expect a heavy turnout.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The OVNews picture from the Green
Coalition debate showing the look
on Horgan's face tells a thousand
words. Clapp and Francina come
baring truth and light to city council proceedings, and Sue has more than a little cause to be alarmed for the end of her tenure as most shadey self seated mayor.

peas and ques said...

Daryl, anti-abortion? Is anyone pro-abortion? Please use anti-choice.

Anonymous said...

abortions rule

Anonymous said...

I don't follow city council meetings much, but I must say I do see the lady Sue Horgan shopping and spending her money in Ojai a lot which is nice but thats all the information I have on the subject.

Jorgensen For Congress said...

Dear Darryl -

The lawsuit has been resolved awhile back, so why are all the right wing newspapers bringing it up? Is because they don't have anything else to say? We have been running a campaign and actually more actively than Gallegly's, who has not really been campaigning because he relies on unwitting people like you to do it for him. We have seen this done in past elections. How about really reporting a candidate's stands on issues? Instead you do the dog and pony show to please your incumbant who really does not have your interests at heart.

For your more intelligent readers
they can go to:

www.jorgensenforcongress.com

and learn about the campaign you don't seem to know about.

Best Regards,
The volunteer staff from
Jorgensen For Congress

Dear Jorgensen for congress said...

"right wing newspapers" ???
certainly you don't think this is a right wing newspaper?! What you don't know about Ojai is a lot.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, past recollection concerning Special Agent Lenehan rings of the reality, that people change with time. Perhaps, a few tours in the middle east coupled with everyday life, make him suitable for a position requiring wisdom, patience, and unselfish service.