As a country, we saw the ongoing political divide become great and solidified on Tuesday. In Ventura County, however, we had some surprising —even relieving — outcomes, as well as some expected results from this election.
First, while Ventura County voters have been on the winning side of presidential elections since 1920, with one exception in 1976, favoring Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter, this election season, local voters lost. We hedged our bets and put our faith in Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 54 percent lead to 39 percent, respectively, and we were wrong. There is a silver lining to this outcome: Those in favor of Trump and his ideologies do not have a strong hold here. Though so many of us are still stunned by the national results, locally, the hate and vitriol was heard loud and clear and we did not jump on board. Across the country, there are Clinton supporters and anti-Trump voters who will not look at or speak to their neighbors, colleagues and even family members. They are broken hearted. They are defeated. At least here, whatever civility Clinton represented is still alive and well.
Second, as expected, state and congressional Democrats maintained their presence, winning at least six elections, though for most of them, their districts straddled the county lines, pulling their leads over Republicans thanks to voters in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. In Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Ventura, incumbents remained tough adversaries to newcomers, such as Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn, though for Port Hueneme and Ventura, the winning candidates had a substantial lead over the incumbents. We believe this indicates that locals are open to change even if incumbents were able to keep their seats. We hope that the re-elected candidates embrace the new ideas coming from these top vote-getters.
Third, for measures and propositions, Ventura County voters are united in ensuring the best education for our children, willing to raise taxes for school improvements and new construction, and in one case, even when a district is in embattled with lawsuits (Measure D, Oxnard School District); plus, we were highly in favor of bilingual education. We are dedicated to preserving our agricultural and open space resources. In Oxnard, distrust prevailed, with voters approving a measure that reinstates old utility rates; the upside, the author (Aaron Starr) of the measure also won a seat on the City Council and will experience firsthand how to balance a budget in a financially beleaguered city. We were unified with state voters in marijuana legalization, tougher firearm and ammo regulations and against regulating the porn industry. But we still could not get behind a single-use bag ban, though statewide it passed. We also could not support efforts to overturn Citizen’s United, which enabled unfettered political spending. We believe in second chances for criminals, rewarding them for good behavior, while we want to stamp out cigarette smoke, on par with the rest of the state. But in one surprising turn, Ventura County Supervisors lost a left-leaning voice in the third district race, though it is a nonpartisan seat.
While there may be a little mystery to the outcome of some of these races, these results prove that Ventura County residents remain eclectic and eccentric, valuing tradition as well as progress. In the end, though, with so much division to overcome in this country, it’s especially comforting to see that locally we can find some unity in compromise.