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100 Protest Special Vote for Council Seat : Politics: Thousand Oaks residents say they are fed up with campaigns and want the new official appointed.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Saying they are tired of campaigns and politics, about 100 Thousand Oaks residents rallied Saturday against a proposed special election to fill a vacant City Council seat.

The demonstrators said the position should be awarded to Mike Markey, the fourth-place finisher in the November election to fill three council seats.

At a meeting last month, the City Council could not come to an agreement on the issue, with Andy Fox and Judy Lazar arguing for an appointment and Elois Zeanah and Jaime Zukowski favoring an election. The council will try again Tuesday to reach a decision on the matter, but if it splits 2 to 2, there will be an election in June.

Residents, including Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, said Saturday they do not want to be subjected to another round of political campaigning.

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“Is Thousand Oaks like Washington, D.C.?” keynote speaker Anderson asked from a lectern set up in a courtyard outside the Civic Arts Plaza.

“No!” the crowd answered in unison.

“Is it a political city?” he asked. “It’s never been since I’ve been here.”

Other protesters, including Newbury Park retiree Ed Conway, shared the same sentiments.

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“We don’t want any more turmoil over the election. We’ve just had enough of it,” Conway said in an interview.

The estimated $100,000 cost of holding a special election was another issue criticized by speakers and the audience, which included council members Fox and Lazar.

“We think it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said H. Jere Robings, president of the Ventura County Alliance of Taxpayers, who addressed the crowd.

Speakers during the open-microphone rally said they could think of far better uses for the money than spending it on an election. Anderson suggested giving the $100,000 to the poor, and another speaker, Rick Lemmo, suggested giving the money to the Discovery Center, a Thousand Oaks children’s museum.

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Markey, the runner-up in November’s election, kept a low profile at the rally, arriving late and refraining from making a speech. Still, he said he was pleased with the turnout and that he understood the crowd’s feelings.

Rally organizers said the event was not staged to support any particular candidate, but was intended to support the principle of an appointment rather than a special election.

In his speech, however, Anderson endorsed Markey, calling him “a fine young man that went ahead and obeyed the rules.”

The start of the rally was delayed to accommodate Anderson’s late arrival, but an accordion player kept the crowd entertained, playing polka music and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

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Despite the event’s grass-roots flavor, Zukowski charged in a telephone interview after the rally that the entire anti-election campaign had been orchestrated by developers intent on gaining a pro-growth majority on the council.

“The whole issue is about money. It’s about concern by moneyed interests,” she said.

A letter from former Mayor Alex Fiore, read at the rally, said Zukowski may move to Colorado, creating another vacancy on the council. But Zukowski said Saturday she has no plans to move.


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