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2 Candidates Make Growth the Key Issue

Thousand Oaks voters will pick a new supervisor March 5. Vying for the seat are Councilwoman Linda Parks and businessman Randy Hoffman. These are highlights of their interviews with The Times.

January 27, 2002

Question: Your critics say you're hard to get along with and that you've built a political career pandering to Thousand Oaks' NIMBYs. Response?

Answer: I'm certainly not part of the good old boys' network. I have opposed projects such as a $12.5-million taxpayer giveaway for a seven-story parking structure and movie theater right next to City Hall. I opposed the development of the Hill Canyon wetlands for a high-priced golf course. So I've been on the front of many battles. But I have also brought something forward that I think is unique in the history of our area, and that is bringing together the cities of Westlake Village, Calabasas, Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks to meet regularly on trying to get a hospital for the Conejo Valley. I also have been endorsed by a majority of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in my previous campaigns and I work well with all of them.

Q: What can be done about the Ahmanson Ranch housing project at this point without the county facing costly litigation?

A: At the same time you have the opportunity to vote for Linda Parks, you can also vote for a $1-billion park bond. And I would like to see funds put toward the purchase of Ahmanson Ranch for a state park. The best way to avoid litigation would be for [Ahmanson Ranch developer] Washington Mutual to do the right thing, and that is instead of selling to commercial builders, sell it for parkland.

Q: Should the county continue to fight the Newhall Ranch project in court?

A: The county has legitimate concerns about the Newhall Ranch project, and until it's resolved in court, I certainly wouldn't back out of it. We have an opportunity to make the project better, if not possibly stop it.

Q: What do you offer voters other than your slow-growth politics?

A: I'm best known for my advocacy for slow growth and open space. But I've been on the City Council for over five years now, and I have put together several laws--the city's first-ever campaign reform law, laws that protect neighborhoods and citizens' rights. Thousand Oaks has an excellent record of having a balanced budget and is one of the safest cities in the nation. I've worked to support a 20% increase in our police since I've been on the City Council. I worked to improve citizens' access to City Hall because they were not having their voices heard. I've been fighting taxpayer waste and excessive expenditures. For example, our city administrators were using city credit cards to dine at expensive restaurants and I cracked down on those expenditures.

Q: Aren't you too liberal to be a Republican? Why did you change your party?

A: I changed my party for two reasons. One is I feel very attuned to the Republican fiscal conservatives. The other reason is that . . . I would like to see the party more open to people of different philosophies. [Former Thousand Oaks Councilwoman] Elois Zeanah, [Mayor] Ed Masry, myself, we are all Republicans who are environmentalists. It's not an oxymoron. I changed parties about six years ago.

Q: As a supervisor, what do you offer your affluent constituents in Thousand Oaks, since county government deals mostly with poor people and criminals?

A: One of the things that separates Thousand Oaks from the rest of the county is the incredible amount of volunteerism and people willing to give of their time and money. I like the idea of giving more of that at the county level. I went to the RAIN shelter [for homeless families] and saw those people living in very poor conditions. Through that experience, I was able to bring some of that volunteerism and giving to that shelter. There are a lot of resources the county and city can provide together to provide incentives for such things as affordable housing.

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: What we have in our county is the cream of the crop. Look at our Sheriff's Department, our firefighters. It's important to see that we retain these individuals. We need to assure that we have competitive wages with other areas. That's key. I also know that they put their lives on the line and deserve greater compensation. I support binding arbitration because they are unable to strike. However, I believe that how [Proposition 172] money is allocated can be shifted within the four public safety departments that receive it. The people have voted for that revenue to go to public safety, so that's where it goes.

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

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