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VENTURA COUNTY | ELECTIONS 2002

Incumbents Lead in Council Races

Officeholders in Simi Valley, Camarillo and Moorpark coasting, while those in Thousand Oaks, Ojai and Oxnard seem headed for victory.

November 06, 2002|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

It was a good night for incumbents in city council races throughout Ventura County, with officeholders sweeping to victory in Camarillo, Simi Valley and Moorpark. They also held early leads in Thousand Oaks, Ojai and Oxnard.

In the bitter Thousand Oaks campaign, which featured squabbles over the pace of development, incumbents Andy Fox, Dennis Gillette and Dan Del Campo led in the race for three council seats.

They were pitted against a "slow-growth team" that included Planning Commissioner Claudia Bill-de la Pena, former Planning Commissioner Michael Farris and English teacher Laura Lee Custodio.

"I'm extremely happy and gratified that the residents of Thousand Oaks appreciated the positive campaign that we ran and our efforts and hard work over the last four years," said Fox, the top vote-getter in early results.

In a special election to replace incoming Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, millionaire businessman Randy Hoffman was locked in a virtual dead heat with restaurant owner Bob Wilson Sr.

Simi Valley voters easily returned Mayor Bill Davis and Councilmen Paul Miller and Glen T. Becerra to office.

In Oxnard, Mayor Manuel Lopez and incumbent Councilman Dean Maulhardt retained their seats.

In the race for three seats in Santa Paula, incumbent Councilman Rick Cook was among the early leaders. But high school Principal Gabino Aguirre, urban planner Mary Ann Krause and land-use planner Rita Graham were also running strong.

In an election where nine of the county's 10 cities voted for council members, growth emerged as the overriding issue.

In Thousand Oaks, the battle unfolded along time-honored lines as a slate of slow-growth City Council challengers accused incumbents of being too cozy with developers.

Four of the 12 candidates--Wilson, Bill-de la Pena, Farris and Custodio--ran as an environmental bloc in a sometimes-nasty campaign.

Gillette was accused of using the city seal improperly in brochures, but city lawyers saw no violation.

Hoffman called Wilson a Lake Sherwood carpetbagger who rented an apartment in the city days before filing for office. Wilson said he has lived in or near Thousand Oaks for three decades.

In Simi Valley, candidates focused much of their attention on ballot Measure B, which sought to shrink the city's growth boundaries and effectively kill proposals for more than 2,000 houses.

All three incumbents, and all but one of the mayoral and council challengers, opposed the measure.

In Oxnard, which is the fastest-growing city in the county, candidates squared off over how to provide services for new developments, including the 2,800-home RiverPark project.

Oxnard appeared to have addressed its sprawling growth in 1998, when voters blocked urban development on most of the surrounding farmland. But growth within the city was an issue, with several candidates saying the pace of development had outstripped city services.

No city had more election day decisions than Santa Paula.

Voters elected three council members, determined the fate of a ballot growth measure and decided whether to carve the mostly Latino community into five voting districts.

The seven candidates agreed that the next council needed to boost Santa Paula's sagging economy, curb crime and smooth racial tensions.

A federal lawsuit two years ago alleged that the city's at-large voting system had perpetuated racial discrimination. City leaders agreed last year to let voters decide whether to elect council members by district.

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