Krista Dugas, Bard Elementary
Jena Bradford, Balboa Middle School
John DeGrazia-Sanders, Santa Clara High School
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.)
Christy Weir – Ventura mayor
Neal Andrews – Ventura councilman
Best person to talk to about sex
Adina Nack of Cal Lutheran University
When Dr. Adina Nack was diagnosed with cervical HPV at age 20, she initially thought that her life was over. “I felt like damaged goods,” she said. “I wondered if I had lost the right to find love and have a baby. Most people don’t know that these infections are treatable.” The stress that she went through inspired her to help other women who have or had incurable STDs.
“I felt that it was my duty,” Dr. Nack said. “I wanted to hear about women who had similar experiences, but who had gone on to be successful. But there were no support groups or TV shows talking about this, like there are today.”
Dr. Nack began her career as a sexual health peer educator in grad school. Eventually, she became the director of the university’s sexual health education program. Currently, she is an associate professor of sociology at California Lutheran University, and works as a researcher and organizer for HIV/AIDS Coalition of Ventura County.
In 2008, Dr. Nack published Damaged Goods, a book that examines how STDs transform the lives of women through 43 interviews. The book reveals how mixing morality with medicine fuels the gendered social stigma that these women endure.
“It only takes one sexual partner to pass on an STD,” she said. “STDs are not indicative of someone’s moral character, intelligence or their ability to be a good spouse or parent.”
For the follow-up to Damaged Goods, Dr. Nack is interviewing men and women who have dealt with long-term consequences from contracting curable STDs. She is also preparing to undertake a new project, where she will interview women who have given birth to healthy babies but had negative experiences with labor and delivery. More information on Dr. Adina Nack and her research can be found at www.adinanack.com.
— Claire Palermo
Ventura City Council Candidate Bryan Lee Rencher
Long-time residents are used to seeing Bryan Lee Rencher’s name on the ballot during election season. And after so many defeats, they can be forgiven for thinking that Rencher is simply an ambitious (and perpetual) City Council also-ran. Not so.
Rencher’s knowledge of the Ventura bureaucracy is considerably intricate — he routinely schools the City Council on perceived injustices with gusto, wit and fast-talking action. How? He’s attended almost every council meeting for more than a decade and cares deeply about the well-being of the city. He’s jotted notes and slogged through even the most mundane of City Council agendas in order to figure out what’s actually going on behind the spin and the closed-door meetings.
Somebody has to do it, and he wears the mantle of Ventura’s City Council watchdog well.
But he’s become more than a mere watchdog. He’s truly become a part of the local fabric of the town. His persistence has given him a fairly consistent number of votes in city council elections, and one of these times (maybe this year), he may even win. People around town know his name, and local journalists listen carefully to see what he says. I bet that even the city councilmembers who brush him off secretly find him amusing — and truly informative.
And that’s the reason he takes the prize for Ventura County’s Best Muckraker: he’s not afraid to ruffle feathers and confront perceived injustices. And he’s got the facts, statistics and guts to back them up on the public stage.
— Erik Hayden
Small business owner
Kesia, Cara Mia
Seana Weaver, Wine Rack
Scott Volkmann, Casa Pacifica
Bonnie Weigel, CEO, FOOD Share
Mel Sheeler, President, Sheeler Moving and Storage
Matt Thompson – VPD
Brian Hayes – VPD
Quinn Fenwick – VPD