Ventura County supervisors voted Tuesday to move the boundaries of Supervisor John K. Flynn’s district two blocks to again include the home of Flynn’s chief political rival, Oxnard Mayor Nao Takasugi.
Flynn, who has blasted the move as “gerrymandering at its worst,” said little as his four board colleagues tentatively approved, in a 4-0 vote, a minor boundary change that will place Takasugi back in the 5th District.
A final vote is set for next Tuesday.
After the meeting, Flynn said he refused to vote on the issue not because he fears Takasugi politically, but because he thinks that the veteran Oxnard mayor should be given no special treatment.
“This doesn’t mean I don’t relish running against Nao,” Flynn said. “I’d like to invite Nao to join the race. . . . But my question for my colleagues is: Why are they so interested in Nao coming back into my district?”
Flynn has accused two supervisors, Maggie Erickson Kildee and Vicky Howard, of conspiring with Takasugi and former supervisorial candidate Carolyn Leavens to defeat him next year. But he declined to repeat the charge Tuesday.
Supervisors have said that Takasugi, who is considering a run against Flynn next spring, was inadvertently cut out of the Oxnard-based 5th District and that they were simply correcting a much-publicized error.
They have noted that Flynn first said he would reinstate Takasugi, then changed his mind.
“John seems to be hung up on this issue of some kind of conspiracy,” Erickson Kildee said in an interview. “He simply needs to recognize that the rest of the board thinks that if Nao was inadvertently taken out, he now needs to be put back in.”
Supervisor Maria VanderKolk, who proposed the boundary change, said she was dealing with the issue because of all the publicity it has received and out of fairness to Takasugi.
Takasugi is the only one of the county’s 10 mayors cut out of his supervisorial district during a three-month reapportionment that ended Oct. 1.
The boundary change would move parts of five streets from VanderKolk’s 2nd District, which is centered in Thousand Oaks, back into Flynn’s district, which is mostly in Oxnard. Exactly 587 people would be affected, VanderKolk said.
Several speakers at Tuesday’s hearing sided with Flynn.
“I want to run against Mr. Flynn too, so I want to be put back in the 5th District,” Oscar Karrin said. He identified himself as a resident of one of nine mobile-home parks cut out of Flynn’s district during reapportionment.
Scott Bollinger, who is running against Flynn, called the change “a special favor” for Takasugi. Bollinger said Oxnard Councilwoman Geraldine Furr, a Mandalay Bay resident, was also removed from Flynn’s district.
If Furr decides to run against Flynn, Bollinger asked, “are you going to go back and . . . (put) Mandalay Bay back in the 5th District?”
But Takasugi praised the board for opposing Flynn’s wishes.
“It’s a matter of fairness,” Takasugi said. “This bit of injustice is being redressed.”
Takasugi said, however, that he is not certain that he will run against Flynn.
Depending on the shape of new legislative districts being determined by the state Supreme Court, Takasugi said he might seek the Assembly seat now held by Speaker Pro Tempore Jack O’Connell (D-Carpinteria) if O’Connell runs for state Senate.
Though most of Oxnard is in O’Connell’s district, Takasugi lives in the district of Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks). Both Takasugi and McClintock are conservative Republicans, and the mayor said he would not run against McClintock.
Flynn has been angry with the other supervisors since they declared their intentions in mid-October to return Takasugi to the 5th District.
Flynn charged that VanderKolk, Erickson Kildee and Howard had violated the state’s open-meeting law by allegedly agreeing among themselves to go along with Takasugi’s request.
Flynn also accused Erickson Kildee and Howard of conspiring with Takasugi and Leavens to defeat him.
Howard, Leavens, Takasugi and Erickson Kildee all said they had no idea what Flynn was talking about. They said they had never discussed Flynn’s political future with each other.