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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS | DECISION 2000 : ELECTIONS

Masry, Parks Lead in Thousand Oaks; Pinkard and Zaragoza Ahead in Oxnard

November 08, 2000|MATT SURMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A slow-growth incumbent and a millionaire attorney allied with her had the early edge for two council seats in Thousand Oaks, while Oxnard voters appeared to be settling into another term with familiar faces, according to early election returns Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a ballot measure that has split Santa Paula over the issue of growth was also producing mixed results in early balloting, with the initiative slightly ahead.

With a record turnout, voters were also choosing city council members in seven more of the county's 10 cities and were weighing in on development issues in Fillmore and Ventura.

In Thousand Oaks, lawyer-turned-celebrity Ed Masry and incumbent Linda Parks were ahead of five other candidates in early tallies. Masry, who gained fame as one of the real-life inspirations for the film "Erin Brockovich," ran on a slow-growth platform with Parks.

Trailing Masry and Parks in early returns were incumbent Mike Markey and challenger Jim Bruno. At a lavish party at the Hyatt in Thousand Oaks, a confident Masry, buoyed by his campaign's exit polls over the course of the day, clutched a celebratory Budweiser and greeted supporters under an arch of red, white and blue balloons.

"When Markey and Bruno continued to say that growth was not an issue, they didn't understand the mood of the people," Masry said. "Linda and I are going to overwhelm them."

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In Oxnard's council race, incumbents Bedford Pinkard and John Zaragoza were leading in early returns for two seats being sought by six candidates.

Zaragoza said residents appear to be happy with projects that the city is planning, including a long-awaited widening of the Santa Clara River bridge and resurrection of the former Esplanade Mall as a new upscale shopping center.

"People like what we're doing and support us," Zaragoza said.

Santa Paula's Measure I was running tight in early returns, but on both sides of the issue, backers were expressing hope that they would ultimately prevail.

"Hope springs eternal," said City Councilman Jim Garfield, who opposed the measure. "It's been a very divisive campaign and I figured going in that it's going to be a close race."

Many of the council races and local measures--including those in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Fillmore--revolved around growth.

How much more growth Thousand Oaks should allow was a focal point of a contentious council race in that upscale east county city.

Besides Masry, Parks, Markey and Bruno, other candidates were environmental consultant Joe Gibson, community activist Chris Buckett and homemaker Mary Harris.

Meanwhile, the pace of development and where it should occur were the topics of ballot measures in Santa Paula, Fillmore and Ventura.

Dueling Measure J and Measure K in Fillmore allowed voters to choose between a city-backed plan to limit development outside of expanded city limits and an even more restrictive growth-control law. Santa Paula's initiative called for restrictions on development of farmland and open space unless voters approve.

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A fourth ballot item in Ventura, Measure M, asked voters to approve development of an ambitious sports park on farmland.

Measure M supporters said Ventura needs more recreation centers, but others feared more aggressive development would follow.

"Sure, now it's a park, but it's going to be houses next," said James Lockwood, 44, a registered Democrat.

In the Simi Valley City Council race, where five candidates competed for two seats, the debate was about the twin goals of attracting commercial business and building affordable housing. The candidates were incumbents Barbra Williamson and Steve Sojka, and political newcomers Jim Mackelburg, Brian Wilson and Charles P. Misseijer. Mayor Bill Davis faced a challenge from Mary Mikesell, an in-home therapist and a resident of Simi Valley since 1962.

In Oxnard, where the issues centered on noise from Oxnard Airport and the search for space to build schools under slow-growth laws, the incumbents faced challenges from retired businessman Martin Jones, retired code enforcement officer Joe Avelar, social worker Saul Medina and teacher Alex Escobell.

Also facing planning and housing issues, Camarillo had five candidates--one an incumbent. As in the rest of the county, the Camarillo candidates talked about slow growth, and seemed to be in agreement on most local issues: opposing expansion of Camarillo Airport, building a new library and luring high-tech companies. The candidates were incumbent Kevin Kildee, business developer Don Waunch, real estate agent Les Meredith and Carlos Cruz, a former California Highway Patrol officer and tailor.

In Moorpark, campaigns turned cutthroat, with anonymous recordings left on home answering machines about one candidate's financial troubles, disappearing campaign signs and a tabloid-style Web war between candidates. There, seven candidates competed for two council spots, and there was a two-way race for mayor between incumbent Patrick Hunter and Michael Wesner.

City Council candidates were incumbents Debbie Rogers and Chris Evans, first-time candidate Jonathan Panossian, rancher Pete Peters, lawyer Keith Millhouse, business owner Roseann Mikos and perennial candidate Tim Kalemkerian.

Voters in Port Hueneme, Ojai, Fillmore and Santa Paula--where the city is the target of a federal probe charging that its voting system discriminates against Latinos--also selected city council members Tuesday.

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Contributing to these election stories were Times staff writers Tina Dirmann, Margaret Talev, Timothy Hughes and Daryl Kelley and correspondents Catherine Blake, Josh Karp, Paul M. Anderson, Traci Isaacs and Jenifer Ragland.

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