Housewife and one-time City Hall watchdog Madge Schaefer said Wednesday that, as a newly elected Ventura County supervisor, she will use her aggressive and occasionally caustic political style to secure more money and attention for the Conejo Valley.
"I'm ready to hit the ground running," said Schaefer, who defeated three-term incumbent Edwin A. Jones by 2,000 votes and 5 percentage points in Tuesday's election. It was one of the few defeats for incumbents in the county.
Schaefer, 44, said that her first job as a county supervisor will be to improve flood control in her district, which includes most of Thousand Oaks, south Camarillo, south Oxnard and the southern beach areas of the county.
Chumash Indian Burial Site
She said she will push for relocation of the Chumash Indian burial site in south Oxnard to property in Thousand Oaks that is owned by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. Moving the buried remains, which were discovered in August, is expected to cost more than $180,000.
Schaefer, who is finishing the second of two terms on the Thousand Oaks City Council, asserted that the rest of the five-member Board of Supervisors "felt comfortable" with Jones as supervisor because he did not spend much county money in his own district.
"The pie could be divided up four ways instead of five," Schaefer said. "You couldn't attack Ed for anything because he didn't do anything."
Jones, who had won easy re-elections in 1978 and 1982, blamed his defeat on the bad publicity caused by his arrest 18 months ago on lewd-conduct charges at a Studio City motel. He charged that Schaefer "exploited the arrest to the nth degree."
Critical of Commercials
"There were so many commercials during the campaign about my character and fitness to run for office," Jones said. "When that keeps blaring over and over, it's hard to ignore."
Although Jones later pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was placed on probation for the incident, he publicly admitted to having an extramarital affair at the motel and said that he had a drinking problem. Schaefer did not mention the incident directly during campaign debates.
"I never made his personal family problems part of this campaign," said Schaefer, an 18-year resident of Thousand Oaks. "The issue has always been his lack of leadership."
But Schaefer conceded that the publicity generated by Jones' arrest was a factor.
Jones spent $138,000 on the June primary and fall campaigns, nearly $100,000 more than Schaefer. Jones finished first in the primary and, although the 56-year-old part-time political science college instructor did not gather enough votes to avoid a runoff, he appeared to have overcome the motel incident publicity.
But Jones again made local headlines after the county grand jury admonished him for posing with a uniformed county sheriff's deputy on a campaign brochure. Then, in August, Jones acknowledged that he had failed to report about $15,000 in contributions for his legal defense fund.
Schaefer began her political career in the mid-1970s as part of a group that opposed the construction of the Oaks Mall, the city's regional shopping center and now one of its leading revenue sources. Although Schaefer lost that battle, she said she got hooked on local politics.
After getting elected to the City Council in 1978, Schaefer said she gained a reputation as an independent and often unpredictable policy-maker. "I learned to play hardball on the council," she said.
Schaefer said she thinks she has surprised many critics who saw her as a "flash in the pan" after her first successful run for city office. She said she ran for the council a second time to prove them wrong.
Schaefer holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Florida State University. Her husband, Bruce, is an airline pilot for US Air. They have two children, Holly, 19, and Heather, 15.