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1 Incumbent Reelected, 2nd Beaten in Race for City Council in Ventura

November 05, 1987|JESSE KATZ | Times Staff Writer

One incumbent was reelected and another defeated in a Ventura municipal election that saw 14 candidates vying for three City Council seats.

Tuesday's election also put two newcomers on the seven-member council, in a race that was marked by shared agreement over the need to manage the city's growth.

Biology professor Don Villeneuve was the top vote-getter with 6,886 votes, or 18.2% of the total votes cast. Attorney Richard Francis garnered 6,389 votes, or 16.9% of the total. And incumbent Councilman John McWherter received 6,114 votes or 16.2%.

Incumbent Russ Burns, who was seeking a second four-year term, came in fifth with 5,021 votes, or 13.3%.

Villeneuve, 57, a Ventura College professor, had emerged as one of the campaign's more critical voices with his calls for restrictions on commercial and industrial growth.

'Didn't Feel . . . Conciliatory'

"Some of my campaign advisers were cautioning me that I was coming across rather angry and that I needed to temper my tone," said Villeneuve, a former city planning commissioner. "But I didn't feel in a conciliatory mood. And the reaction I was getting from an overwhelming majority of the people was that they were frustrated and angry and dissatisfied too."

Francis, a 38-year-old attorney who helped block construction of a planned shopping and office complex earlier this year by gathering signatures of 11,000 residents opposed to the project, also had called for tighter restrictions on growth.

"It seems like a definite indication that the folks are tired that traffic and growth haven't been dealt with in the way that they should be," said Francis, who led all candidates in fund-raising by garnering nearly $20,000. "I tried to project myself as a reasonable observer of city issues and someone dedicated to addressing them."

However, McWherter, 72, and a 14-year veteran of the City Council, discounted the notion that voters were sending a message of frustration to City Hall.

"We're already doing the things that these guys are advocating," McWherter said. "I don't think they're going to make that much difference on the council. When they get initiated and find out how complex the decisions are, they'll fall into what they have to do and only what they can do."

According to the city clerk's office, 28.1% of Ventura's 48,311 registered voters turned out to vote. In the 1985 municipal election, voter turnout was 28%.

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