About 200 local Democrats celebrated their party’s recent success at the Spring Fling on Saturday, April 27, the Ventura County chapter’s annual fundraiser in Thousand Oaks.

Assemblywoman Monique Limón, Santa Barbara, described efforts to counter Trump Administration policies with bills supporting Planned Parenthood and making offshore oil drilling harder to pursue.

“We’ve stepped up time and time again; we know we have more work to do, but you need to know that we will fight back,” said Limón, who said she was authoring a bill to unionize child care workers.

One of several guest speakers, Limón was followed by State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who noted the party’s success at increasing Ventura County’s Democratic voter turnout.

“Back in the prehistoric days this was a very red area,” said Jackson. “We have turned this county blue.”

Jackson said Democrats “understand America is home to people from everywhere who are willing to work and play by the rules,” and “protect the rights of working men and women.”

State legislators are working hard to recognize that there is indeed climate change, said Jackson, citing the Thomas and Woolsey fires as examples of how it has affected Ventura County.

“We believe in all the things that make this party great and will make this country great again,” Jackson said.

Featured guest speaker State Treasurer Fiona Ma talked about her job, which she was elected to in November with more votes than any other candidate for the office in state history.

“I really do love my job,” said Ma, adding “I feel like an undergrad; it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”

Ma said her office handles $2 trillion annually and that thanks to a good tax season, state funds are $2 billion more than Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2019 budget.

She described some of the projects her office has taken on, including refunding the CalVet program, which helps veterans purchase homes, and the Scholarship 529 program, which helps parents set up tax-advantaged investment accounts specifically designed for college savings.

Ma also talked about the coming 2020 general election, noting California’s earlier March 3 primary election date.

“No longer are we going to be [just] the ATM [for candidates], we will be the important state. Candidates will be coming to our conventions,” said Ma.

But although Ma said she is supporting Sen. Kamala Harris, she emphasized that Democrats need to unite behind the party’s nominee regardless of who it turns out to be, declaring “what happened three years ago can’t happen again.”

“We need to support whoever our nominee is,” Ma continued. “We need to make sure we take back our White House; the amount of damage that man’s doing has to stop.”

Ma finished her speech by calling on Democrats to “resist, resist and unite.”

After her speech Ma was asked how she could use her office to accomplish the goal she had just set.

“By bringing jobs [to the state] so we can be more independent as they [the Trump Administration] threaten to defund us,” Ma answered.

“Another need is housing. If we don’t build housing, that is going to affect our ability to grow,” Ma added.

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, Santa Clarita, followed Ma, taking the opportunity to talk about the more progressive 18-to-24-year-olds and why the party needs to support them.

“They are less likely to own a home, to marry and have children, to have a career path that offers them a ladder to success,” said Smith.

“I sometimes see their progressivism as something I don’t want to deal with,” Smith admitted. “I may not agree with them on everything, but I will take this ball and run with it as far as I can.”

Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, Thousand Oaks, followed Smith, thanking party activists for some important victories in November, such as gaining a majority on the Conejo Valley School Board.

“We took over a school board with three very conservative candidates,” noted Irwin, adding that she had never seen such long lines at polling sites as she did in November. “I’ve never seen so many people activated.”

Noting that eight of Ventura County’s nine state and federal representatives are women, Irwin asked Democrats to focus their new-found enthusiasm on Washington, D.C.

“There is no choice anymore, we need to keep the House, take over the Senate and we need to elect a Democrat as President,” said Irwin.

Irwin’s comments were echoed by Congresswoman Katie Hill, Santa Clarita, who arrived late in the event to also emphasize the importance of Democratic activism in Congress.

“We are fighting for the fate of our democracy, providing representation that we haven’t had before,” Hill said.

Later Hill shared her take on the impeachment debate in the House of Representatives.

“I think we really have to be sure everything is out in the open,” Hill said, a position similar to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s.

“It’s important for us to do our due diligence,” Hill continued. “I’m glad we’re being deliberate about it; it might be slower than some people want, but I think it’s important.”

State Sen. Henry Stern, Canoga Park, used his time at the podium to provide some levity, auctioning off a coffee and brownies meet with Stern as the barista and Smith baking the brownies.

Other elected officials attending the event included Councilmembers Carmen Ramírez (Oxnard), Ruth Luevanos (Simi Valley), Susan Santangelo (Camarillo), Matt LaVere (Ventura), Bill Weirick and Randy Haney (Ojai) and Oxnard High School Board Trustee Karen Sher.

Mike Teasdale of the Ventura County Board of Education, Ventura County Community College District Trustee Bernardo Perez, Board of Supervisors District 3 candidate Kim Stephenson and Carina Armenta from Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s office also attended.