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VENTURA | VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

Chamber Endorses 3 Council Candidates

September 13, 1997|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

The Ventura Chamber of Commerce has decided to endorse only three candidates this year, even though there are four open seats on the City Council.

Selecting from a field of 10, the chamber announced Thursday that it will back five-term veteran Councilman Jim Monahan, local restaurateur Sandy Smith and local businessman and environmentalist Brian Brennan.

"These three were head and shoulders above the rest," said Ken Schmitz, chairman of the chamber's political action committee. "We just decided this is where we should be focusing our energies."

Other candidates for this year's council race include engineer Carroll Dean Williams, county planner Carl Morehouse, researcher Brian Lee Rencher, motorcycle magazine editor Mike Osborn, businessman Doug Halter, businesswoman Donna De Paola and California Highway Patrol Officer Paul W. Thompson.

The chamber wields considerable clout in local politics. In the last three elections, eight out of 10 chamber-backed candidates have won.

Since starting its political action committee in the 1991, this is the first time the chamber has not endorsed a candidate for all the open seats.

"I think it's a smart move," said Councilman Jim Friedman, who is also the immediate past president of the chamber.

"The chamber will now put all of its resources into the three people it would really like to see elected, as opposed to diluting them, by adding a fourth person they were not too hot on."

Ken Schmitz, chairman of the chamber's political action committee, added that the chamber may spend less money this year than in past elections.

Other local groups are also lining up behind candidates.

Barry Hammitt, executive director of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 286 city employees, announced that his organization will back Smith, Morehouse, De Paola and Monahan.

Voters Coalition, a grass-roots environmental group headed by Councilman Steve Bennett, is expected to announce its endorsements next week.

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