Moorpark voters will pick a candidate in a special election Tuesday to serve the unexpired term of former City Councilman Danny Woolard, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to embezzling funds from the U.S. Postal Service, where he worked.
Woolard's conviction, and subsequent admissions of bribe taking and other political corruption while in office, triggered an investigation of misconduct among Moorpark city officials by the Ventura County district attorney's office.
Although the inquiry is not expected to be completed until June, the controversy failed to raise any significant issues in the race among the six candidates who are seeking a seat on the five-member City Council.
All the candidates say they want to improve the image of Moorpark, a fast-growing eastern Ventura County city of 17,000 that has been rocked in recent months by Woolard's allegations of vote buying and conflict of interest among council members.
Woolard, who is serving a six-month prison sentence, alleged that Councilman Thomas C. (Bud) Ferguson had arranged as much as $30,000 in loans and bribes to influence Woolard's vote while the two were on the council.
Ferguson has denied any wrongdoing but has become the subject of a recall effort.
Bernardo Perez, 37, has been a temporary appointee to the council since February. He has served on the Planning Commission and is running for the 18 months remaining in Woolard's term. He said his central campaign theme is "to bring Moorpark together."
"The people who follow the City Council closely will notice that we are doing things," said Perez, who works for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
John Patrick Lane Jr., 39, who narrowly missed winning a council seat in the November election, has raised and spent $5,000 in the campaign, the most of any of the contenders, according to campaign finance statements. Lane, a Los Angeles Police Department supervisor, has emphasized honesty and integrity throughout his campaign.
Also running are:
William LaPerch, 64, a local rancher and owner of a Los Angeles-based executive-search firm. He served two years on the Planning Commission.
Tom Schleve, 40, owner of Moorpark General Store and several other downtown-area properties. He is building a home outside city limits but said that, if he is elected, he won't move until he completes his term.
Steven Bloch, 31, who owns and operates a 7-Eleven store in Simi Valley. He is planning to open a second store in Moorpark.
Joseph C. Miller, 49, a real estate agent. He has not filed required campaign finance reports with the city and is not considered an active candidate.