An environmental leader and a veteran councilman emerged Friday to challenge Ventura County Supervisor Maggie Erickson Kildee, as candidates for local, state and federal offices rushed to make the June 2 primary ballot.
Ojai environmentalist Stanley Greene and veteran Santa Paula Councilman John Melton filed against Erickson Kildee, who has been battered this winter by criticism over her support for a new jail near Santa Paula.
In the other two races for county supervisor, incumbent John K. Flynn is opposed only by a political novice and Supervisor Susan K. Lacey will face four lesser-known challengers, including Ventura Keys activist Richard F. Massa.
There were no last-minute surprises in filings by candidates for the six legislative and congressional districts that overlay at least a part of Ventura County.
Nine candidates--including Oxnard Mayor Nao Takasugi and former county Supervisor Madge Schaefer--are running for the Assembly seat that will be vacated by Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks).
Schaefer and Takasugi are the most prominent Republicans in the race, and the district's voter registration heavily favors that party.
McClintock filed for Congress in a new district that includes Thousand Oaks and stretches into Los Angeles County.
In a scramble to replace retiring state Sen. Ed Davis (R-Santa Clarita), Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) will face former Assemblywoman Marian W. La Follette of Thousand Oaks.
Wright and La Follette are old legislative adversaries, despite similar conservative philosophies. And they have already exchanged political potshots.
Thousand Oaks Councilman Frank Schillo, also a Republican, flirted with joining the race, but decided on Friday not to run.
"I'm disappointed," Wright said Friday. "I wanted more people in the race so we could have a party."
In the 23rd Congressional District, three-term Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) drew Ventura physician Robert A. Shakman and Oxnard businesswoman Daphne Becker as opponents in the primary. Both are politically untested.
Two high-profile Democrats--Anita Perez Ferguson and Kevin Sweeney--are competing for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gallegly in the November general election.
Ferguson ran strongly in her 1990 challenge to Republican Rep. Robert Lagomarsino (R-Ventura), who has moved to a district in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Sweeney, a onetime aide to former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colorado), has assisted several local slow-growth political campaigns while employed by Ventura outdoor-clothing manufacturer Patagonia Inc.
Carpinteria Assemblyman Jack O'Connell is unopposed in the Democratic primary. But three Santa Barbara County Republicans filed to compete for the seat O'Connell has held since 1980. The district includes Ventura, Santa Paula and Ojai.
Probably the biggest surprise in Friday's filings was the strength of the competition in Ventura County's 3rd supervisorial district.
Erickson Kildee, first elected in 1980, has never received less than 59% of the district's vote. Beginning months ago, she tried to discourage opponents by launching her campaign early, going door to door to greet voters and raising campaign contributions. She has about $45,000 in reserve.
But Greene and Melton, both with proven constituencies, said they decided to file last week. Zoe C. Nolan, a Camarillo farmer, also filed.
Greene, president of the 700-member Citizens to Preserve the Ojai, said he decided to enter the race because of his affection for Ventura County's relatively unspoiled environment.
"It still has the potential to be a nice place to live," he said. "I don't want to see what happened to the San Fernando Valley happen here."
Greene said he expects support from the Environmental Coalition of Ventura County and from Patagonia. And he said he intends to enlist canvassers from his own Ojai Valley organization.
Greene said he has taken no position on the jail that the county wants to build on farmland near Santa Paula.
But Melton, a five-term councilman, said he entered the race in part because of his opposition to the proposed jail and promises of support by other jail opponents.
"But it's not only the jail," Melton said. "My phone has been ringing with people asking me to run because of the county's fiscal situation and saying we need someone with business experience to take a look at that."
Oil industry representatives have also encouraged Melton to run, he said. "They say they're slowly being regulated out of business."
Erickson Kildee said she will take the challengers in stride.
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