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Moorpark to Fill Council Seat Left Vacant by Ferguson in Fall

February 22, 1988|SAM ENRIQUEZ | Times Staff Writer

After a year of highly publicized City Hall scandals, Moorpark voters in a special election Tuesday will select one of seven candidates to fill the City Council seat left vacant with the recall last fall of Thomas C. (Bud) Ferguson.

The winner of Tuesday's race will serve on the five-member council for the eight months left in Ferguson's term, as well as gain the advantage of incumbency when it comes to running for a full four-year council term in the November general election.

Ferguson, who was recalled by an overwhelming majority of voters, never recovered popular support after he was accused last year of bribery and political corruption by former Councilman Danny Woolard.

Woolard, who resigned from the council in January, 1987, and later served a prison sentence for embezzling U. S. Postal Service funds, said that Ferguson, in an effort to influence Woolard's vote, had loaned him tens of thousands of dollars while the two served on the council.

The allegations were investigated by the Ventura County district attorney's office in a six-month probe last spring, but no charges were ever brought against Ferguson. He denied all Woolard's charges and has said he did nothing wrong while serving on the council.

City Business Hampered

The council vacancies brought on by Woolard's resignation and Ferguson's recall, as well as the cloud of suspicion hanging over Moorpark during the district attorney's investigation, have hampered the council's ability to conduct routine city business, city officials say.

But this fast-growing city of 25,000 has not faced issues involving major controversy since voters passed a slow-growth measure in November, 1986.

Most people familiar with Moorpark politics agree that this race will be largely a personality contest, with the winner probably being the candidate who can reach the most voters through mailers and door-to-door campaigning.

The big spender in the race so far has been Planning Commissioner Paul W. Lawrason Jr., 59, who reported campaign contributions of about $7,200 through the beginning of this month, city records showed. Lawrason, a contracts administrator with an electronics firm, has received the endorsement of Councilman Patrick Lane.

Lawrason, who said he is a supporter of moderate city growth, believes that the council has not followed the wishes of residents, particularly when, over the objections of neighbors, it approved the construction of a gasoline station that sold beer and wine. He has lived in Moorpark for 2 1/2 years.

Edge in Experience

Candidate Bernardo M. Perez, 38, was appointed to fill Woolard's seat early last spring, but later lost it to Lane in a June special election. Perez, a service representative with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said his brief council stint gives him the edge in experience over his competitors.

Perez, who also served briefly on the Planning Commission, is an 18-year resident of Moorpark. He said he plans to spend about $4,500, which would be the second largest amount used in the race.

Also running are:

Planning Commissioner Scott Montgomery, 34, a self-employed financial consultant. He said he has a combination of city planning experience and financial expertise unique among the candidates.

Former Councilman Roger Beaulieu, 44, a budget administrator for a local electronics firm. He served a term on the council when the city was incorporated in 1983, but did not seek reelection.

Don Fender, 50, a manufacturing planner for a local aerospace firm. He said he will fight against any use of eminent domain by the city to redevelop the downtown area.

Amado Reynoso, a portrait photographer and 19-year Moorpark resident. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the school board in November. Reynoso declined to state his age.

Danny Rasey, 43, an electrician. He has served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and is a 36-year resident of Moorpark.

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