A new landfill. Development of a commercial airport at Point Mugu. The conversion of the county's firefighters into a paramedic force.
These are some of the issues at stake in the June 7 election when voters determine the winners of two open seats on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Voters will also select a Superior Court judge who will make hundreds of rulings before facing reelection at the turn of the century.
In Port Hueneme, those casting ballots will determine if it's worth more taxes to keep their Police Department, while a small pocket of voters in Oak Park will advise whether their community should become the county's 11th city.
Although less than half of the county's registered voters are expected to make it to the polls, local officials say the results of next week's election could alter public policy for years to come.
"This is absolutely a very critical election," said Supervisor Maria VanderKolk, who along with Supervisor Vicky Howard is stepping down at the end of the year.
"There are always very important decisions facing the board," VanderKolk said. "But they may be more significant in this election because we're (getting close) to making decisions that will significantly affect the future of the county."
Supervisor John K. Flynn agreed, saying the two new supervisors may determine whether a commercial airport is developed at Point Mugu and settle a longstanding dispute over a proposed landfill in Weldon Canyon, between Ventura and Ojai.
"I think the supervisor races are going to be the most important in the last 25 years," Flynn said.
County voters also will pick candidates for county auditor-controller, tax assessor, clerk and recorder and superintendent of schools.
Three top county department heads--including the sheriff, district attorney and tax collector--will be automatically returned to office because they face no challengers. Two Superior Court judges and two Municipal Court judges also have no competition.
In the most visible of six primary races for the state legislature and Congress, Republican voters in Thousand Oaks will decide who challenges Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) in November.
Richard Sybert, a former top aide to Gov. Pete Wilson, moved to Calabasas less than a year ago to run for Beilenson's seat and quickly made a name for himself by loaning his campaign $430,000. As a result, he has also become the main target of attacks by his four opponents.
Here is a closer look at the local, state and federal races that Ventura County voters will face on June 7.
Of the two contests, the race for VanderKolk's 2nd District seat, which covers Thousand Oaks, Oak Park and Port Hueneme, is the most crowded with five candidates.
All of the candidates agree on the need for more jobs, less crime and improved county services. But each has tried to distinguish their candidacies by taking stands on specific issues.
Attorney Trudi Loh portrays herself as an avid environmentalist and the only supervisorial candidate who opposes development of a new county landfill. She said she prefers to explore other alternatives for trash disposal, such as shipping it elsewhere.
"We can't just keep blindly dumping trash into landfills," Loh said.
Taxpayer advocate H. Jere Robings wants to hold the line on taxes and zero in on wasteful government spending. Former County Supervisor Madge Schaefer proposes expansion of the county's anti-gang prevention programs to help curb violent crime.
For his part, Thousand Oaks City Councilman Frank Schillo wants to lure new businesses to the county and is a strong advocate of a commercial airport at Point Mugu. Rancher Carter Ward, on the other hand, has proposed allowing more development in the county's unincorporated areas to help generate revenues to pay for county services.
The supervisorial race in the 4th District, which covers Moorpark and Simi Valley, involves four candidates. They are Moorpark City Councilman Scott Montgomery and Simi Valley City Council members Judy Mikels and Barbara Williamson. Off-again, on-again candidate James L. Meredith, a member of Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board, re-entered the race last week on a platform to promote tourism.
Montgomery and Williamson throughout the race have stressed their experience serving on a number of city and county agencies, dealing with everything from waste management to regional government.
Yet Williamson, who has considerably less government experience, says she can provide better leadership than her competitors. A vice president of Simi Valley Bank, Williamson has raised more in campaign contributions than all her opponents and has spiced her campaign with tough talk about slashing government spending.
A November runoff in both supervisorial races is possible if the top vote-getter in each race fails to garner more than 50% of the vote.
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