Michael Graves

Michael Graves

Michael Graves

Why are you running for Council?

I’m running to be a part of the positive change that I want to see in our city, and to give a voice to those who are often under-represented in our community.

What has prepared you for the job of council member?

Working with adults with disabilities has taught me more about patience, humility, and caring than I can adequately describe, and has helped me gain a unique and personal understanding of the obstacles faced by those in our community who are often overlooked. I worked diligently with the local Bernie Sanders Campaign, and ran to be a Sanders delegate for District 24. These experiences coupled with my studies in Communication are the foundation of what has prepared me to move our city forward as a council member.

 What major goals are you hoping to achieve in your term on council?

I want the bans on Medical Cannabis Dispensaries overturned. This is a moral issue. It confounds me that we have dozens of “massage parlors” up and down Main st. and Thompson, and yet there’s nowhere for a disabled veteran to purchase their much needed medication. Delivery services just don’t cut it. Patients don’t deserve to be reduced to hiding in the shadows under an unjust cloud of stigma and judgment. They deserve our support.

 How will your contribution benefit citizens?

Overturning the bans will help open a real discussion about needs of patients, and fight a lot of negative stigma associated with using the medication. Patients will no longer be forced to have a stranger come to their house for what can be a vary private medical issue. They will no longer be forced to drive to Santa Barbara or L.A. just to get their prescription. There’s also a fiscal benefit. Rolling back the bans will create new business, support job growth in various industries, and increase our city’s revenue and taxable income.

 What are your thoughts on the state of local businesses in the city?

Taking a look down Main street, it would appear that new businesses are doing quite well.  The new Discovery Ventura on Thompson continues to bring in more customers, and recently had a very successful day long concert event.  

 What are your thoughts on current public safety issues?

One of the reasons Ventura is the best city in the US is because our crime rate is low.  However, I am acutely aware of our Midtown neighbors who have seen an increase of packages being taken from their doorsteps, and unlocked cars being burglarized. Nextdoor.com has been a fantastic community resource for quickly sharing this type of information in real time, and should be further promoted by the city.  There is about 1 police officer per 1000 people in the City of Ventura… that we have such a low crime rate is a testament to their excellent service. 

What are your thoughts on the housing shortage in the city?

Housing, especially affordable housing, is the biggest issue our city faces. Even middle class families struggle to find housing, be it affordable or not.  Rents end up being a half to two-thirds of your income!  That’s not sustainable for individuals or families.   

Does the city need more lower-cost housing?  Does it need executive housing? 

People I know living with disabilities receive Social Security benefits of about $800-900 a month in the state of California.  You would be lucky to find a room for rent for $600 or less in Ventura.  Recently, three hotels downtown that provided low-cost housing were remodeled and the landlords raised the rent upwards of $800.  How is a person suppose to live on $50-100 a month after rent, even if they are lucky enough to have access to Food Share and pantries, a free “Obama” phone, and a discounted bus pass? Many of these residents were then forced into homelessness. I firmly believe that “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community” -Anthony J. D’Angelo

How important are the city’s natural resources to you and what are you doing about it?

Ventura’s beauty is its greatest selling point.  Our Chamber of Commerce highlights our beaches, sunny skies and low pollution.  This is one of the main reasons we were named the Most Desirable place to live in the US!  Of course, water is our most precious resource in Ventura and California with our record drought.  I personally use rain barrels, and I’m researching how to install a DIY gray water system for my house. I go out of my way to talk to my neighbors about drought resistant plants, using clean energy, and even grow vegetables communally for my family and my neighbors. I would love to see Ventura use our abundance of free solar energy for street lamps, and maybe even to run our new electric sign!

How do you feel about changes to the city’s charter, election of a mayor, council by district and term limits?

I agree with many aspects of the charter. Term limits are very important for any democracy. Term limits keep council members more accountable to citizens. I disagree however that the City Manager could reside outside of Ventura. I also find it odd the request for raises for council members comes at the same time citizens are being asked to approve a tax increase. There are many programs such as new housing initiatives, increasing homeless programs and promoting of our city that should come before any raises.