It has been nearly four years since I made it to the Ventura County Government Center for election night. My last visit was for the presidential election in 2008 and the atmosphere was tense, yet spirited at the same time. Incumbents and candidates were making their regular rounds among the dozens of observers, doing the standard meet and greet, shaking hands and chatting with colleagues. Congressman Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, showed no signs of concern, after all it was his 12th time being re-elected but little did he know that through an independent redistricting commission four years later, his district would shift from predominantly Republican to a slightly Democratic edge. Oxnard Mayor Tom Holden, two-term mayor and a councilman for more than nine years, walked with confidence through the elections office, however, just two years later, he would find himself and other Oxnard city officials entrenched in an investigation by the district attorney regarding standard city operations. Former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, was bustling about after taking on a fierce fight with former Assemblyman Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, for the state senate seat. She lost by 857 votes.

Since Election Day in 2008, American society seemed to have had a change in attitude about politics. We have seen the rise and fall, or decline, depending on who you are, of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. We have seen the positive and negative effects of hyperpartisan politics. We have also seen a surge in independent thinkers. That isn’t to say we have gotten over our lockstep thinking with our preferred political party, but as a whole, it seems that we are beginning to understand politicians can’t fulfill great promises without cooperation and compromise.

 Election night for the 2012 primary presidential election came as a big surprise and no surprise at all. With the passage of the statewide initiatives to put the power back in the hands of the voters with an independent redistricting commission and the top-two primary system, I was excited at the notion that we were going to get more involved in the political process and be accountable for our leaders by voting. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Only a handful of observers and reporters were at the elections office. Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy was being interviewed by the local media. As far as I could tell, none of the incumbents or candidates was present once the polls closed.

The biggest disappointment, though not a shocker, was Ventura County voter turnout: 25.1 percent. In comparison, Santa Barbara County had 35.8 percent turnout though statewide turnout was 24 percent. According to the California Secretary of State, however, statewide turnout for the 2010 gubernatorial primary was 33.3 percent and the 2008 primary, 28.2 percent. Also, the election results proved Ventura County residents who did vote are still voting along party lines and that apparently, Republicans are the most dedicated to keeping their people in office. Come Election Day in November, it seems apparent that it will be business as usual and, despite the fact we voted for change, we simply can’t let go of partisan politics.

Unofficial primary election results (votes) via the county elections office:

24th Congressional District:
Lois Capps (incumbent, Democrat) — 280
Abel Maldonado (Former lieutenant governor) — 241

26th Congressional Distric:

Tony Strickland — 36,551 votes
Julia Brownley (Assemblywoman, D-Oak Park) — 22,228
Linda Parks (Ventura County Supervisor, no party preference) — 15,407

State Senator District 19:
Hannah-Beth Jackson — 22,686
Mike Stoker (Former Santa Barbara Supervisor, Republican) — 23,146
Jason Hodge (Oxnard Harbor Commissioner, Democrat) — 7,289

State Senator District 27:
Todd Zink (Deputy district attorney, Republican) — 25,625
Fran Pavley (incumbent, Democrat) — 17,474

Member of the Assembly 37th District:
Rob Walter (Republican) — 14,293
Das Williams (Incumbent, Democrat) — 15,920

Supervisor 1st District
Steve Bennett (Incumbent, Democrat)
— 9,471
Bob Roper (Retired fire chief, Republican) — 6,018