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THE CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / A VOTERS' HANDBOOK: DECISION
'98

Vote Will Set Stage for New Millennium

November 01, 1998|MIGUEL BUSTILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday for the last major election of the century. Fittingly, it will be a watershed event for Ventura County, which will decide a landmark ballot measure charting the course of growth and the future of agriculture well into the next century.

Attracted by the high-profile gubernatorial campaign pitting Democrat Gray Davis against Republican Dan Lungren, and the usual array of sweeping statewide propositions, more local voters are expected to cast ballots Tuesday than at any time except Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection. More than 66% of registered voters turned out that year.

But there is more at stake for the county than who will govern California into the next millennium. Or whether the state's Indian tribes will be allowed to expand their gaming operations, or if state Treasurer Matt Fong will become the first Chinese-American U.S. senator from the mainland.

Voting booth decisions made in local races will have just as much bearing on the region's future. The most high-profile contest is the battle over Measure B, the countywide SOAR initiative, which would prevent politicians from rezoning farmland and open space outside cities without voter approval.

The Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources campaign has also put smaller versions of the initiative before voters in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Oxnard, Camarillo and Santa Paula. Those measures would prevent the cities from expanding their borders without permission from their citizens.

Just as important, voters will also decide who will represent them in Congress and the state Legislature. Voters in Thousand Oaks will choose between Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman and GOP challenger Randy Hoffman in an expensive race targeted by both parties. For the rest of the county, the choice is between Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly and Democratic challenger Dan Gonzalez.

In Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and Fillmore, those casting ballots will replace retiring Republican Assemblyman Brooks Firestone. In Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark, voters will decide on a replacement for Republican Assemblyman Nao Takasugi, who cannot seek reelection because of term limits.

Eight of Ventura County's 10 cities will elect new city council members to guide them on meat-and-potatoes issues such as growth and public safety.

Most of the county will choose school board members to set the course of their children's education. Two trustees for the Ventura County Board of Education will be chosen, and three for the Ventura County Community College District.

As election campaigns reach a climax, mailboxes across the county are filling up with flashy political junk mail. Campaign pitches dominate radio and television advertising.

The goal of this section is to provide unbiased, evenhanded material to assist voters--not to tell anyone how to vote on Tuesday.

* VOTER GUIDE: B2-6, B15-16, B24

Local Ballot Measures

Here is a list of the local initiatives that will appear on the Tuesday ballot.

COUNTYWIDE

* Measure A: Would poll county residents on the recommendations of the Agriculture Policy Working Group, a panel that studied the complexities of farmland preservation. Would also poll voters on a county proposal to start a special district to purchase open space and farmland.

* Measure B: Commonly known as the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative, would prevent politicians from rezoning farmland and open space outside cities without voter approval.

CITY SOAR MEASURES

* Measure C in Camarillo, Measure K in Oxnard, Measure M in Santa Paula, Measure O in Simi Valley and Measure P in Thousand Oaks: Would prevent cities from growing beyond a set of designated borders without voter approval.

CONEJO VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

* Measure R: Would allow the district to issue $88 million in bonds for school improvements such as reducing class sizes, replacing aging roofs, wiring for technology and upgrading ventilation systems.

FILLMORE

* Measure D: Would establish a utilities tax of 4.5% on charges for telephone, electricity, gas, water, sewer and cable television services. The money raised would be used to pay for general government expenses.

MOORPARK

* Measure F: Would prevent the city from growing beyond a set of designated boundaries without voter approval. Unlike SOAR, the boundary would allow for development of the 3,221-home Hidden Creek Ranch development.

* Measure G: Would enact a special tax for the acquisition of open space lands. Requires a two-thirds vote.

OJAI

* Measure I: Would adopt a 10% transient occupancy tax applying only to hotel patrons.

* Measure J: Would retroactively approve the 10% transient occupancy tax on hotel patrons.

SANTA PAULA

* Measure L: Would establish a 4.5% utility tax on charges for telephone, electricity, gas, water, waste-water treatment and cable television services. The money would be used exclusively to hire additional police and fire employees and increase public safety services, salaries and equipment. Requires a two-thirds vote.

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