Why are you running for Council?
I am running because the city of Ventura needs a Council member who brings a diverse perspective, will stand up for progressive policies and take a proactive approach to the position.
I am also running because it is important that the city have a Council member who can offer balanced leadership for the many competing issues such as water and development. I am in a unique position as an administrator for the Watershed Protection District to understand the complex issues surrounding the Ventura River and the Mound Basin.
In addition Ventura needs a fresh voice to speak for the underemployed, mothers with children and frustrated native children of Ventura who are unable to find competitive work opportunities to support a family or have an affordable place to live.
Last but not least, it would be prudent to have a Council member who understand the revenue gap left by Proposition 13, the local budget deficit caused by the end of redevelopment and the potential revenue streams that can be tapped in to in the interim.
What has prepared you for the job of Council member?
I have worked as Interim Project Manager for two half-million-dollar capital improvement districts. I have managed expenditure accounts and I understand how capital programs operate off of debt. I have prepared resolutions, agenda items and supporting documents, reviewed contracts, summarized state legislation for local program applications and engaged in public outreach efforts as department liaison.
In addition, I am very familiar with city operations and organizational management have dedicated my career to public service for the last 10 years. During those years I earned an undergraduate degree in bilingual studies, a bachelors in communication and a post-graduate degree in public policy and administration
I currently work for the Watershed Protection District as an administrator responsible for processing CEQA reviews and violations that occur in our watershed jurisdiction. This puts me in a position to understand our water issues from a regional perspective in relation to the other 10 cities in the county.
I was twice appointed to the Ventura County Women’s Economic Roundtable where I serve as chair of our Young Women’s Advisory Council committee.
The city of Ventura needs a Council member that understands the fiscal dynamics of a public budget so that they are able to hit the ground running. I am that Council member.
What major goals are you hoping to achieve in your term on Council?
The three largest challenges we face are: 1) Water, 2) General Plan and 3) SOAR.
These are challenges that shape the discussion around every other policy issue in this region. Much of the state is in a prolonged stage 4 drought. Our water rates have been increased and the city of Ventura has adopted a rule called “Net Zero.” This rule allows for a moratorium on future development and if our water resources dip below a certain level — development stops and I support this. I believe that low- or no-impact capital improvements would serve to build a better future for our children and ensure that the city of Ventura remains a viable and vibrant city. I will continue to support strategic infill development that does not increase the burden on our dwindling water resources. I have worked as interim project manager for two million-dollar capital-improvement districts.
If I am elected to Council I plan to lead an initiative for a water workshop to be led by a third party, where concerned community advocates, city councilmembers, farmers, environmental groups, nonprofit organizations and related agencies can get together and have a frank discussion about the gaps that remain in policy regarding real needs related to land use, water resources and development. I believe that only through collaboration can consensus, agreement and measurable goals can be found. We can continue to do more while adopting the innovation from those experts in the community on the ground. I currently work for the Watershed Protection District as an administrator responsible for processing CEQA reviews and violations that occur in our watershed jurisdiction.
The General Plan was a document created in 2005 by a 19-member advisory committee and it states sustainability as part of it’s core vision and as the Council continues to renew and revise the general plan it is important to have a Council member that seeks to build upon this document and not change it. I am that Council member.
If elected I plan to ask city staff to create a proposal for a traffic mitigation study of the top 10 high-traffic intersections in our city. Traffic in Ventura has increase exponentially and requires nothing less than a serious discussion about how we can include the issues associated with it in the General Plan.
The city’s budget is $104 million annually, has been balanced every year per ordinance and per the Ventura County Star Op-Ed written by the VCTA — the city has been running a surplus in recent years. In light of these numbers I have chosen not to support Measure O at this time. 1) because the funds are not earmarked for a specific purpose and 2) the money under this measure will go directly into the General Fund. I trust the voters and I believe the voters should have the opportunity to vote for sales-tax increases that go directly to fund projects they approve. I am also committed to transparency, what I support, I vote for and if I don’t vote for it I expect to be held accountable.
How will your contribution benefit citizens?
Working together to protect progressive policies for affordable living in Ventura benefits seniors on a fixed income, graduates who are underemployed, young families living pay check to pay check and working-class citizens who just want earn a decent living, have a roof over their head and a bed to lay their head.
This benefits the business community, tourism, hillside residents and supports a thriving and balanced economy.
What are your thoughts on the state of local businesses in the city?
Our natural resources, water and business are all tied together. It is important to have a Council member who understands the revenue gap left by Proposition 13, the gap left after the end of redevelopment and clearly understands the potential revenue streams that remain in their absence. I believe that opportunities exist to work together to move this city forward to continue to enhance the best living in Ventura. I believe the cities residents would prefer that if any entity chooses to come to Ventura to live and grow that they pay their fair share to be here. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce I support business in Ventura and I also support a balanced discussion about the best way to repair our crumbling infrastructure.
In addition, as a Council member I would work hard to ensure that the general plan is consistent, that the planning staff and commission are on the same page and require staff to provide regular updates on what is coming before the planning commission to decrease the number of permitting inconsistencies.
If elected, I plan to lead an initiative to connect the business on the West Side to the East Side through focusing on the Midtown corridor. In hopes the tourists would be drawn to other parts of the city.
What are your thoughts on current public safety issues?
I believe that public safety is important. Crime, vagrancy and violence are very real public issues. I support our men and women in blue and I support increasing the police force with officers from the community they represent. More women officers, more Latino officers and more bilingual officers.
What are your thoughts on the housing shortage in the city?
The state Regional Housing Needs Assessment determines how many affordable units each city needs in collaboration with the Ventura Council of Government. When we do not meet our numbers we are fined, period. This requirement has been handed down since the ’70s as a result of community redlining. The shortage in the city of Ventura is a result of too many years of regressive development policies. The people that need affordable housing the most are not necessarily transplants, many of them are sons and daughters of this community over generations who have been forced to live in other cities, counties and even states to find affordable living options.
Does the city need more lower-cost housing? Does it need executive housing?
It is not a matter of either or, it is both. We absolutely need low and very low housing options as well as executive housing. We cannot continue to thrive as a city if we turn away our children and we cannot keep the business community moving forward without being able to retain business executives.
How important are the city’s natural resources to you and what are you doing about it?
As an environmentalist at heart, I support SOAR 100 percent and believe that our natural resources are what makes the city of Ventura unique. Not only do I support SOAR, I am a member of the Surfrider Foundation and a contributor for CFROG. If I am elected to Council I plan to bring the plastic bag ban back up for a vote if Proposition 67 fails.
Ventura’s natural resources create the extraordinary environment that surrounds our city
How do you feel about changes to the city’s Charter, election of a mayor, Council by district and term limits?
I believe that moving to change the city’s Charter in 2014 from an odd election year cycle to an even one was a good move because the decision was fiscally sound and it was brought to the voters.
Although the election of a mayor, Council by district and term limits sound good on the outset and believe the fine print may pose an unfair advantage over the voters. On the campaign trail I have heard many people say that they believe the Council needs fresh faces and new ideas and I don’t believe a Council member should make a career out of sitting on the Council after retirement indefinitely. In addition, districts in the city of Ventura may make campaigning easier but it may make it extremely difficult to find competitive candidates willing to endure the process due to regional limitations. All things must be considered. If a new set of Council members win seats on the Council in the next five years do we want them all to be out in a shorter period of time or will they be allowed the same grace? These are questions only the voters can answer.
Remember this election year is the first time Ventura voters will be electing a City Council member in an even presidential election cycle. This means that three times the number of voters will turn out in numbers our Council has not seen.
Don’t forget to vote for Lorrie Brown Nov. 8. I am number 10 on the ballot!
Thank you for this opportunity.