Slow-Growth Pair Win Seats on City Council
Slow-growth advocates retained their apparent election-night victory on the Thousand Oaks City Council on Monday after thousands of outstanding absentee ballots were tallied, according to the county registrar of voters.
The latest results in the city’s cliffhanger council races mean that Claudia Bill-de la Pena and Bob Wilson Sr. will join Mayor Ed Masry on the council to create a slow-growth majority.
“It’s a historic election, because for the first time we have a true slow-growth majority,” Bill-de la Pena said Monday. “All the candidates maintained they were for slow growth. But we felt we really meant what we said.
“With this election, voters of Thousand Oaks have spoken very clearly and really do want slow growth, not what’s been delivered in the past.”
Mayor Pro Tem Andy Fox was the top vote-getter in the Nov. 5 election for three council seats. He received 17,114 and was followed by Councilman Dennis Gillette, who received 13,005. The two were portrayed as more open to development than candidates on the so-called “certified slow-growth” slate -- which included Wilson and Bill-de la Pena.
Bill-de la Pena solidified her third-place position over Michael Farris with 12,883 votes.
In a special council race to replace newly elected county Supervisor Linda Parks, Wilson collected 12,510 votes and will finish out the former councilwoman’s term. Masry was not up for reelection.
“I don’t think it will make much of a difference,” Gillette said of the council make-up. “I’ve been a proponent for slow growth and open space acquisition for 15 years. I think what we have are people who feel even more passionately about it than I do, who are now coming on the council.”
Gillette said that 95% of the City Council’s decisions have been made on a 5-0 vote, and he doesn’t expect that to change.
“I think it’ll be a lot of the same,” he said. “If you look at the evolution of the city since 1964, a third of our city is in publicly held open space and that will continue. Most of the big development is pretty much resolved. Now that the election is over, I hope the rhetoric will tone down and we can focus on doing the city’s business.”
As in Thousand Oaks, the counting of about 31,000 absentee ballots countywide did not change the outcome of other races, elections chief Bruce Bradley said.
“The rich just got richer,” Bradley said.
One who got richer was Ojai’s Carol B. Smith, whose 10-vote edge over opponent Bruce Roland for a seat on the Ojai City Council grew to 32 votes Monday.
Although 2,800 provisional ballots -- those that are damaged and set aside for hand tally later -- remain uncounted countywide, Bradley does not think they will make a difference.
“How many can the whole town of Ojai have?” Smith said. “I don’t think Bruce will pull ahead of me.”