Most incumbent municipal candidates in eastern Ventura County were ahead in early returns Tuesday, while the outcome of a Simi Valley ballot initiative that would force developers to pay more for street improvements was a virtual tossup.
Incumbents were leading in City Council and mayoral races in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Camarillo. The only incumbent trailing late Tuesday was Moorpark City Councilman John Galloway, who was fourth in a race for three seats in very early returns.
In Simi Valley, the traffic initiative, Measure C, was losing narrowly, as were three candidates who supported it. The challengers were seeking to unseat three incumbents -- Mayor Gregory A. Stratton and council members Bill Davis and Glen McAdoo--who opposed the measure.
Very early returns also showed that Simi Valley voters overwhelmingly supported keeping the hotel-motel transient tax at 8%. The measure, B on the ballot, asked voters if they approved the 8% rate set by the City Council. If voters had rejected it, the tax rate would have reverted the 1986 rate of 5%.
In Camarillo, which recently lost $25 million after its former treasurer used funds to finance highly speculative municipal investments, George Imrie, a financial manager, and incumbent Mike Morgan, a probation officer, were leading seven other candidates vying for two City Council seats. Financial planner David Smith was a close third.
In Moorpark, the leading candidates for three open council seats were incumbent Bernardo M. Perez, a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power representative; Paul Lawrason, a planning commissioner and business manager who ran unsuccessfully for the council in a special election in February, and Scott Montgomery, a government financial adviser and a Moorpark planning commissioner.
Galloway, 34, was in fifth place. Galloway admitted this summer that he had smoked marijuana twice, once after graduating from high school and again last year while serving on the council.
Thomas C. (Bud) Ferguson, a former Moorpark council member who voters recalled by a 3-1 margin in 1987 after unproved allegations surfaced that he had tried to influence another council member's vote by loaning him money, was in last place.
Moorpark voters were favoring direct election of their mayor for a 2-year term. The mayor is now chosen by the City Council.
Thousand Oaks voters, apparently rejecting criticisms that the City Council is unresponsive to community concerns, were supporting incumbents Frank Schillo and Lee Laxdal over three challengers.
In Simi Valley, debate over the controversial traffic initiative had dominated the municipal election, which featured nine candidates vying for mayor and two City Council seats. Opponents of the measure far outspent proponents.
The initiative, sponsored by a citizens group, would force developers to make or pay for street improvements within 1 1/2 miles of their projects before construction could begin.