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2 Candidates Make Growth the Key Issue | Q&A VENTURA

January 27, 2002

Question: Critics say you're a rich businessman trying to buy an election and that you favored slow growth only after voters saved farmland and open space with the SOAR initiatives. Response?

Answer: In my congressional campaign, which was in 1998, that was the year SOAR was passed, and I came out very strongly for SOAR. My wife and I moved to the Conejo Valley because we love it. My business was located in San Dimas. We relocated from downtown Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks, knowing I was going to have a drive of 65 miles, for one reason only--we wanted to live in Thousand Oaks. To believe that I want to pave over it, you know, turn it into the San Fernando Valley is ridiculous. SOAR passed with 71% of the vote in Thousand Oaks. People want to protect what they have. My opponent does not have the exclusivity of wanting to protect the Conejo Valley. Everybody that moves there wants to protect the quality of life. Where we differ is who's best to do that and who is going to be most effective.

Q: Isn't it a contradiction to say you will hold the line on growth when one of your major backers is Sherwood Country Club developer David Murdock?

A: My opposition actively solicited David Murdock. She's misstating the facts when she denies that she did. But Murdock is supporting me because he knows me through my congressional campaign and because I'm an entrepreneur. His development probably has one of the lowest densities in Southern California. He is primarily an international businessman who has created jobs and given millions of dollars to charity. I also haven't met too many people who would reject living at Lake Sherwood. Just because you participate in helping bring the American dream to people who live in the Conejo Valley doesn't make you a bad person.

Q: Does SOAR hinder the movement of new businesses to Ventura County and make it hard for workers to find affordable housing?

A: Affordable housing is difficult to find in Ventura County. No question about it. One of the difficulties of getting businesses to relocate along the 101 technology corridor is the lack of affordable housing. But the people of District 2 have spoken overwhelmingly. We don't want dense development. Because we want to maintain our open space, and we want to maintain the quality of life that open space gives us, we will lose opportunities to bring businesses in. It's a trade-off that I'm willing to make.

Q: You've been running cable ads nonstop. You have hired a platoon of campaign pros and mailed out several glossy brochures. Is there a risk that voters will view your campaign as too pricey and slick?

A: First off, my huge campaign staff is Joel [Angeles, Hoffman's campaign manager]. And we have a consultant. We did polling. We have one full-time paid person. We do have quite a few volunteers, including my mom. I make no apologies for educating the voters about my record and my background, and about the background and voting record of my opposition. It's as simple as that.

Q: Has county government gone overboard on its funding for public safety departments such as the Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office?

A: No, I don't believe the county has gone overboard. Public safety is the No. 1 priority in Ventura County from the standpoint that it is one of the reasons people move here, particularly to Thousand Oaks. It is traditionally one of the safest cities in America. We are the safest county in the Western U.S. In addition to public safety, we have good schools, relatively speaking. So, people move here for that.

We should not be dialing back on the dollars because we think the threat is not there anymore. What if we dropped to No. 10? Or 5? That impacts everything from property values to a variety of things. Also, with the terrorist threat that we have, we should not be cutting back on public safety. There are many definitions of public safety, and it is something that we need to continually evaluate. Especially when we look at the tremendous financial pressure the county is going to come under.

Q: Are sheriff's deputies asking too much in contract negotiations by demanding essentially their full salary as retirement compensation?

A: What I firmly believe is that, on a long-term basis, if an organization is not competitive on salaries and benefits, that organization will suffer. What you have to ask is do you become competitive in one year? Five years? Seven years? That's what you have to figure out. And what's the impact? What's the trade-off? We can't necessarily do it all in a single year. But we certainly have to move forward. We don't want the people who work for the county, whether it's SEIU [the county's largest labor union], the deputy sheriffs, the firefighters, prosecutors or whatever, I don't think we want to turn Ventura County into McDonald's with a turnover mentality.

Q: What is the biggest problem voters should have with your opponent?

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