Pro-Business Candidates Try to Tip Balance in Ventura
Two years after the election of three slow-growth Ventura City Council members helped tip city government’s philosophy away from development, pro-business candidates are entering the council campaign in hopes of tipping it back.
With three filing days left, several local businessmen have joined the race for three council seats now held by Mayor Richard Francis, Deputy Mayor Donald Villeneuve and Councilman John McWherter.
Only Villeneuve is seeking reelection.
Francis announced three weeks ago that he will not run again, so he can spend more time with his wife and 7-month-old twins.
And McWherter, a 17-year councilman, decided last month to retire and spend more time with his family. He initially had said he would run for one more term.
Villeneuve, a Ventura Community College biology instructor first elected in 1987, has hewn to the general slow-growth policies the council has been following since 1989.
That year, Ventura residents elected council members Cathy Bean, Todd Collart and Gary Tuttle, whose slow-growth campaigns were backed by clothing manufacturer Patagonia Inc. and the Alliance For Ventura’s Future.
This year, the campaign season brings an apparent backlash.
One pro-business candidate is Marcum Patrick, a local mortgage banker and head of a group calling itself the Committee to Preserve Historic Ventura.
The group was formed to fight the council’s plans for an ordinance requiring downtown buildings to be made earthquake proof--an expensive process that many downtown merchants say is unnecessary.
But Patrick said he also faults the city staff with making it difficult for new businesses to settle in Ventura.
“I think it’s the misdirection of the city staff, which I think is the current root of the city’s sluggish economy,” he said. “The city continually throws roadblocks in our way. . . . Government is the only successful business in Ventura.”
Patrick said businesses often wait for weeks, and sometimes months, to get the permits necessary to open shop.
But Villeneuve disagreed.
“It’s an exaggeration,” Villeneuve said. “The guy’s only been here a year and a half, and he knows exactly what’s wrong with the city.”
Villeneuve said development in Ventura is completely blocked--except for three low-income housing projects--by a moratorium on new water hookups that the council passed because of the drought.
He added that permit applicants experience delays in the city bureaucracy because they sometimes don’t submit the proper paperwork.
The city’s business climate also has prompted the Ventura Chamber of Commerce to become involved in politics for the first time. Chamber President Gene Daffern said the group will seek to reverse what he called the council’s “anti-business” attitude by backing a candidate not yet chosen.
While the 1989 election focused on the philosophical battle over growth, the issues facing Ventura this year are more complex.
The drought is entering its sixth year. Low- and moderate-income housing is in short supply. And a steady influx of newcomers threatens to stretch the city’s resources beyond their limits by the next decade.
Other interest groups that have said they will back candidates who embrace their political goals include the Alliance for Ventura’s Future, the Voters’ Coalition of Ventura, the Council for a Quality Ventura and the Assn. for Quality Water Alternatives.
The groups advocate causes ranging from slow-growth to construction of a pipeline to bring state aqueduct water to Ventura for the first time.
Other candidates for the City Council on the November ballot are: Tom Buford, a labor attorney; Keith Burns, an author and publisher; Louis J. Cunningham, an operations manager for the Ventura Unified School District; Kenneth Jordan, a retired U.S. Army sergeant; Brian Lee Pincher, a student, and John T. Sudak, a children’s advocate who identifies himself as acting attorney general for the Democratic Union of American States.
Also running are: Jack Tingstrom, a personnel consultant; Bob van der Valk, an independent gas station operator, and Carroll Dean Williams, a manufacturing engineer and instructor.
Because Francis and McWherter are not running for reelection, the filing deadline has been extended from Friday to Wednesday, City Clerk Barbara Kam said.
Ventura’s election is the only city council race this year in Ventura County.
But a variety of other government agencies around the county are holding elections. They include the Camrosa Water District, where a petition drive by residents succeeded in placing three incumbent directors on a recall ballot. The incumbents are Jack C. Rogers, William Goth and Kenneth P. Gerry.
Ventura City Council
3 Seats Open
Tom Buford, labor attorney
Keith Burns, author/publisher
Louis J. Cunningham, operations manager, Ventura Unified School Dist.
Kenneth Jordan, retired U.S. Army sergeant
Marcum Patrick, mortgage broker
Brian Lee Pincher, student
John Sudak, advocate for children
Jack Tingstrom, personnel consultant
Robert van der Valk, independent Unocal dealer
Donald Villeneuve (incumbent), biology professor
Carroll Dean Williams, manufacturing engineer/instructor
Special District Candidates
CAMROSA WATER DISTRICT
1 Director Per Division
Carolynn Nicholson (incumbent)
Timothy H. Hoag
Ronald J. Vogel
Deborah C. Reynolds
Camrosa Water Dist. Recall
Div. 1 Rep. Jack C. Rogers (incumbent)
Div. 2 Rep. William Goth (Replacement candidate Jeffrey C. Brown)
Div. 5 Rep. Kenneth P. Gerry
MEINERS OAKS WATER DISTRICT
Joseph Adinolf (incumbent)
Robert G. Branch (incumbent)
VENTURA RIVER COUNTY
3 Seats Open
Gene Daffern (incumbent)
Harold Parker (incumbent)
Marvin Hanson (incumbent)
OXNARD DRAINAGE DIST. 1
Ralph Borchard (incumbent)
John Dullam (incumbent)
OXNARD DRAINAGE DIST. 2
J.P. Dufau (incumbent)
Jesse DeBusschere (incumbent)
Charles W. Hanna (incumbent)
MUNICIPAL ADVISORY COUNCILS
1 Member Per Zone/Division
OAK PARK, Zone 1
John Kruer (incumbent)
Ramona L. Spradling
OAK PARK, Zone 2
VENTURA RIVER VALLEY
Gerhard Orthuber (incumbent)
Joan Kemper (incumbent)
Lanie Jo Springer
SATICOY SANITARY DISTRICT
Jose Flores (incumbent)
Raul Morales (incumbent)
OJAI WATER CONSERVATION DIST.