Moorpark voters voted 3 to 1 Tuesday to recall City Councilman Thomas C. (Bud) Ferguson, whose political career was tarnished by allegations of vote buying and other political corruption leveled against him by a former council colleague.
Ferguson, who issued one mailer to voters, did not actively campaign against the recall.
Ferguson, a 68-year-old retired machine-shop owner and aircraft manufacturer, had predicted his recall in an interview last month. He said many residents new to Moorpark, which has doubled in population to more than 17,000 since Ferguson's arrival nine years ago, knew him only from allegations of political corruption circulated in the last year.
He was elected to the Moorpark City Council in November, 1984. At the time, Ferguson drew broad support from downtown-area residents and business owners.
Allegation Brought Probe
Ferguson earned a reputation as a competent negotiator in dealings with the scores of developers who have transformed Moorpark from a sleepy eastern Ventura County community into one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. To his friends, Ferguson was known as a generous man who lent tens of thousands of dollars to those in need.
His political troubles began a year ago when he arranged $7,500 in loans to former City Councilman Danny Woolard. Woolard, who recently served 4 1/2 months in prison for embezzlement, revealed that he had used the money to cover up a $5,500 theft from the Moorpark Post Office, where he worked as a clerk.
Ferguson, who admitted arranging the loans, said he believed that Woolard needed the money to pay off gambling debts. But, in January, after pleading guilty in federal court to embezzlement, Woolard alleged that the $7,500 was part of an estimated $30,000 in loans that Ferguson had made to him over the previous two years to influence Woolard's vote on the council.
Ferguson denied the charges. But Dist. Atty. Michael Bradbury began a six-month investigation into political corruption among Moorpark officials, based on Woolard's allegations.
Although no charges were brought against Ferguson when the investigation ended in June, investigators asserted that he had lied under oath and showed questionable moral conduct in his dealings with Woolard.
Investigators concluded that Ferguson was aware of the post-office thefts when he arranged for Woolard's $7,500 loan last fall. Also, investigators said, Ferguson knew of a $2,000 bribe that Woolard admitted receiving in exchange for a council vote on a controversial development project in February, 1986.
In both instances, however, the district attorney's report concluded that there was not enough evidence to charge Ferguson with a crime.
Organizers of the recall drive included three former Moorpark council members. Their efforts were aided in part by Ferguson's resignation as mayor earlier this year after a local newspaper printed an interview in which he made several racially offensive remarks, recall organizers said.
Ferguson later apologized publicly for his remarks.