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ELECTIONS / VENTURA COUNTY : Millions of Dollars at Stake in November

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The upcoming election will be the smallest November ballot ever in Ventura County, but millions of dollars are at stake for west county schools and libraries.

While the Ventura City Council race has garnered most of the headlines surrounding the sparse Nov. 7 election, voters will also be asked to pay for major expansions of Camarillo area schools, and for the survival of Ventura and Ojai Valley libraries.

In addition to those decisions, voters will settle four other local measures, and elect representatives to two school boards and two water districts. The deadline passed Wednesday for candidates to qualify for the election.

Most of the big elections that used to crowd the off-year ballot have switched to even years, when statewide elections are held. The Community College District, county Board of Education, and Simi Valley and Conejo unified school districts all made the switch to save money, Assistant Registrar of Voters Bruce Bradley said.

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Bradley said he expects about 45% voter turnout in Ventura, and between 20% and 25% in the rest of the county.

Three measures on the ballot would help bail out the struggling county Library Services Agency.

“I’ve certainly got my fingers crossed,” agency Director Dixie Adeniran said. “But there are some high hurdles. It’s a two-thirds requirement for passage.”

The three library measures are not identical. If approved, the new tax revenues could only be spent on Ojai Valley and Ventura libraries.

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Property owners in Ventura and unincorporated areas in the Ojai and Ventura school districts will be asked to pay $35 a year per parcel, with annual increases of 6% and 7%, respectively.

The Ojai measure would tax most property owners $35 a year, but apartment owners there would pay $25 a year per unit.

That means the owner of a 10-unit apartment building in Ojai would be taxed $250 a year, while the owner of a similar-sized building outside Ojai would pay just $35.

“Each community tried to fashion its proposal in the way it felt most comfortable,” Adeniran said.

Educators in Camarillo are also crossing their fingers that their fourth try at a huge school bond will be successful. As in June, voters are being asked to approve a $55-million bond for classroom upgrades and construction.

Efforts to pass similar measures have been narrowly defeated three times in the past four years because the initiative requires the support of two-thirds of all voters.

“We need this very badly,” Assistant Supt. Howard Hamilton said. “Within three years, 11 of our 13 sites will be 30 years of age or older.”

The district already collects the most it can from developers toward education costs, but more houses are on the way, Hamilton said.

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“We’ve got 1,800 homes coming in over the next two years alone,” he said. “That’s another 900 kids, and we don’t know where we’re going to put them.”

In June, an identical measure received 65.7% support, just short of the required two-thirds majority.

“We’re less than a percent away,” Hamilton said.

In Ventura, 12 candidates will contest three seats open on the City Council. With two of the three incumbents choosing not to seek reelection, the field is wide open.

The 58,000 registered voters in Ventura will also decide four initiatives besides the library proposal.

Two open-space initiatives would require voters to approve zoning changes on farmland in or near the city. There are two initiatives--known as Measures I and J--because one has been upheld in court and the other is untested.

Proponents of the so-called SOAR measures--Save Our Agricultural Resources--say they are needed to protect farmland. But opponents argue that the measures would needlessly take land-use decisions out of the hands of the City Council.

Voters in Ventura will also be asked whether to limit the amount of money that candidates running for office can solicit from supporters.

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If approved, Measure H would limit donations to $100, but candidates could collect up to $200 from groups or individuals if they promise to spend less than $20,000 overall.

The fifth initiative before Ventura voters--Measure K--asks permission to change the City Charter to allow for leases longer than 10 years on waterfront property owned by the city. A similar measure was rejected in 1994.

School boards in Oak Park and Ventura could also change after the November election, but in each case, two incumbents face only a single challenger.

Management executive Paul Schroeder is trying to beat out incumbents Jim Kalember and Jan Iceland for either of their seats on the Oak Park Unified School District board.

Private school teacher Jeffery McCann is challenging incumbents Diane H. Harriman and Jim Wells on the Ventura Unified School District board.

Ten school and special districts within the county have avoided elections altogether, with the number of candidates seeking office equal to the number of seats available. Those positions will be filled by appointment.

But two water districts--Camrosa and Meiners Oaks County--will hold elections because each of those races drew one candidate more than the number of seats to be determined.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Upcoming Races

Here is a list of candidates seeking election and initiatives on the Nov. 7 ballot. Races with more candidates than seats available will be contested. Races where the number of candidates equals the number of seats will not be contested.

VENTURA CITY COUNCIL

(three seats open)

* Jack Tingstrom, incumbent

* Jim Friedman, financial consultant

* Ray Di Guilio, college administrator

* Carroll Dean Williams, manufacturing engineer

* Charles Davis, businessman

* Stephen L. Hartmann, marketing manager

* Brian Lee Rencher, business consultant

* Craig Huntington, property manager

* Donna De Paola-Peterson, attorney

* Keith Burns, writer

* John S. Jones, software consultant

* Christopher Staubach, recycling coordinator

VENTURA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

(two seats open)

* Diane Harriman, incumbent

* Jim Wells, incumbent

* Jeffery McCann, private school teacher

OAK PARK UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

(two seats open)

* Jan Iceland, incumbent

* James Kalember, incumbent

* Paul Schroeder, law administrator

OCEAN VIEW SCHOOL DISTRICT

(two seats open)

* Elizabeth A. Orick, incumbent

* Dennis Schlotfelt, incumbent

LAS VIRGENES JOINT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

(two seats open)

* Amy Berns, incumbent

* Michael J. Berry, incumbent

CAMROSA WATER DISTRICT

DIVISION NO. 3 (one seat open)

* Timothy H. Hoag, incumbent

* James L. Lechuga, farmer

DIVISION NO. 4 (one seat open)

* Ronald J. Vogel, incumbent

MEINERS OAKS COUNTY WATER DISTRICT

(two full-term seats open)

* Donald F. Wright, incumbent

* Kenneth H. Johnson, incumbent

(one short-term seat open)

* Edward W. Necker, appointed incumbent

* Donald F. Wright Jr., mechanic

VENTURA RIVER COUNTY WATER DISTRICT

(three seats open)

* Harold B. Parker, incumbent

* Marvin L. Hanson, incumbent

* Eddie P. Ramseyer, incumbent

OXNARD DRAINAGE DISTRICT

NO. 1 (two seats open)

* Ralph W. Borchard, incumbent

* John F. Dullam, incumbent

NO. 2 (two seats open)

* Jesse De Busschere, incumbent

* John Swift, incumbent

FILLMORE-PIRU MEMORIAL DISTRICT

(three seats open)

* Linda F. Dye, incumbent

* R. Conway Spitler, incumbent

* Charles W. Hanna, incumbent

OAK PARK MUNICIPAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

(two seats open)

* George P. Anterasian, incumbent

* Todd F. Haines, attorney

SATICOY SANITARY DISTRICT

(two seats open)

* Jose Flores, incumbent

* Raul Morales, incumbent

INITIATIVES

MEASURE H--Ventura voters will be asked whether to limit campaign contributions to $100 from groups and individuals, and $200 from groups and individuals if a candidate agrees to spend less than $20,000 on the election.

MEASURE I--Ventura voters will be asked whether voters should approve changes to the farmland zoning in the city’s chief planning document, known as the comprehensive plan, instead of the City Council.

MEASURE J--Ventura voters will be asked whether voters should approve zoning changes on farmland in Ventura and its sphere of influence instead of the City Council.

MEASURE K--Ventura voters will be asked whether to amend the City Charter to allow for leases longer than 10 years on waterfront property owned by the city.

MEASURE L--Ventura voters will be asked to assess property owners $35 a year per parcel for enhanced library service.

MEASURE M--Voters within the Pleasant Valley School District will be asked if property owners should fund a $55-million bond to pay for construction and renovation of schools.

MEASURE N--Voters within the boundaries of the Ojai Valley and Ventura unified school districts but outside the Ojai and Ventura city limits will be asked to assess property owners $35 a year per parcel for enhanced library service.

MEASURE O--Ojai voters will be asked whether to assess owners of single-family homes, condominiums, and commercial and industrial property $35 per parcel, and apartment owners $25 per unit per year for enhanced library service.

Source: Ventura County registrar of voters and Ventura city clerk


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