Today these weekly Ventura County Perspective pages mark their first anniversary, one full year of offering Times editorials, readers' letters and a wide array of essays and commentary on issues that affect county residents.
Have we solved all of the county's problems yet? Of course not.
But readers and writers from every corner of Ventura County's geographical, political and ideological landscape are talking to each other on these pages each week--exchanging points of view, debating or just blowing off steam.
And that's a start.
As editor of these pages, I am an eager student of all sorts of issues facing Ventura County, which I have called home for several years.
You may have seen me at meetings and hearings all over the county, hiking the sites of proposed developments or taking a firsthand look at some institution or neighborhood embroiled in controversy. I am indebted to the many county residents who have taken time to share their expertise and passion, to help me better understand some of the interwoven threads that make up this big tapestry we call Ventura County.
My mission is to use these pages to help Ventura County residents better understand each other and work together to solve local problems, to use the influence of The Times to help good things happen and bad things stop.
I'm enjoying that challenge, and hope you are too. As we begin our next year, I invite you to add your voice to the conversation.
Our weekly editorials represent the official view of The Times and, true to long-standing newspaper tradition, appear without bylines. Topics are selected and positions are determined by a panel of Times editors who live and work in Ventura County. Although reporters and editors who cover the news for our news pages may be consulted for background information, they are not involved in selecting the issues on which The Times will take editorial positions or in deciding what those positions will be.
Over the past 12 months of Sundays, we have weighed in on many of the dilemmas facing Ventura County. Such as how best to maintain our farm economy and rural atmosphere without putting our future in a straitjacket. How to give our kids a useful, challenging education despite limits on school funding. How to resist a state tax structure that tempts neighboring cities to sabotage each other's attempts to attract businesses. How to steer new housing construction to areas that make sense in the big picture.
Articles on our op-ed page so far have ranged from commentaries by certified community leaders such as mayors, legislators and school superintendents, to less predictable offerings from the full spectrum of Ventura County residents.
This page has provided a high-profile forum for community activists, farmers, environmentalists, and advocates for the elderly, the young, the homeless, the cyber-disenfranchised, even a witch and a pistol-packing preacher.
In addition, we have invited some out-of-towners who have already grappled with issues now facing Ventura County to share their experiences, with the goal of helping us learn from their mistakes.
* Portland, Ore., Metro Council Member Susan McLain wrote about the urban growth boundaries that have brought both good and bad to her city. Such boundaries are at the core of the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) campaign, this year's hottest public policy debate.
* Former Pasadena Mayor Rick Cole wrote about his city's success in turning its dilapidated downtown into a thriving business and entertainment neighborhood, an achievement many of Ventura County's cities would love to emulate. Cole offered some advice--and some lessons learned the hard way.
* Lompoc activist George Rauh wrote about his city's efforts to keep farm pesticides in the field and away from schools and residential areas.
We believe that voices like these, and the vigorous responses they inspire from Times readers in Ventura County, contribute to the candid discussion that results in better decisions. And that's what democracy and active citizenship are all about.