Swept back into City Hall by voters this week, longtime Councilman Mike Morgan on Wednesday vowed to spend coming months boosting funding for public libraries, cutting back on city fees and preserving the area’s vanishing farmland.
Morgan, 50, dedicated his term to the late Councilman Ken Gose, whose death opened the seat for Morgan to win in Tuesday’s special election.
Morgan will serve the remaining 17 months of Gose’s four-year term.
“I’m representing Mr. Gose’s feelings as best as I can because I’m dedicating the term to him,” Morgan said on Wednesday.
Like Gose, Morgan said, he is “not crazy about developing the Ponderosa Corridor and [I] want to make sure we’re vigilant in protecting that area.”
Morgan was referring to 258 acres north of the Ventura Freeway and west of Las Posas Road, which has recently been slated for annexation by the city to prevent immediate development.
Despite his desire to protect open space, Morgan said he supports the county’s proposal for a 16,000-seat amphitheater and 18-hole golf course off Lewis Road--half of which lies in the greenbelt that separates Camarillo and Oxnard.
Morgan will not be sworn into office until July, after the deadline for the City Council to approve its annual budget. For that reason, he said he will not have any say in what will happen to the city’s projected surplus of cash.
But he has some ideas for city priorities, especially supporting the county library branch in Camarillo and easing fees for some city services.
“Once the budget is set, we need to look at how we can contribute more to the library,” Morgan said. “Secondly, we need to look at what we can do to alleviate some of the fees that are being paid by the public--not the development burden, but fees that hit the public here and there.”
As an example, he said he wants to reevaluate the city’s tiered water bills, which give higher rates for those who use more water.
On other fronts, Morgan says he will see to it that the summer Fiesta celebration will be a successful fund-raiser for the high school.
Morgan served 16 1/2 years on the council before surrendering the seat last year to run for county supervisor. He was defeated by Supervisor Kathy Long in a runoff last November.
In his first election bid since that defeat, Morgan handily defeated Ned Chatfield, 78, who spent a decade on Camarillo’s City Council beginning in 1964, and Chris Valenzano, an 18-year-old high school student.
Morgan tallied 4,202 votes, compared with 1,422 for Chatfield and 1,265 for Valenzano.
Similar to voting patterns in the supervisorial race, Morgan’s largest block of support came from Leisure Village, Camarillo’s gated retirement community.
“He did a good job previously on the City Council and compared to the other guys there’s no comparison,” said Ed Hawthorne, 75, a Leisure Village resident. “He’s done things for the Village and the community; he’s protected our way of life, the environment, the greenbelt and the Camarillo Arts Council.”
Other Leisure World residents offered a different idea on his popularity.
“I could give lots of reasons why we voted for Mike Morgan, but Mr. Chatfield was too old and Valenzano too young--it’s as simple as that,” said Genevieve Levanthal, president of Leisure Village Woman’s Club and 16-year resident. “That’s how most people voted.
“He responded when called upon and most everybody liked him saying he wasn’t for the rezoning of Santa Rosa Road into a residential area,” Levanthal said. “He’s always returned calls and people remember that.”
Morgan tallied 785 votes from Leisure Village, compared with 100 for Chatfield and 83 for Valenzano.
“It’s also a name they recognized,” she said. “He ran for supervisor last time and even though he was defeated they still remembered him. So he had name recognition.”
Only about 20% of Camarillo’s voters turned out for the special election.