Pictured: The Jan. 10, 2020, opening of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign office at 545 S. Oxnard Blvd., Oxnard. Photo by Kimberly Rivers. 

by Kimberly Rivers

krivers@timespublications.com

Bernie opens presidential campaign office in Oxnard

On Friday, Jan. 10, a few hundred people milled in and out of a modest storefront office at 545 S. Oxnard Blvd. They came from across Ventura County to celebrate the opening of the local headquarters for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

“There is so much history in Oxnard fighting for rights . . . there has been a lot of struggle here,” said Rafael Navar, California director for the Sanders campaign, speaking to the crowd. “We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history . . . really this crisis is affording us the biggest opportunity to build the country of the promise that it never was for a lot of people.”

The Bernie Van with rotating head and music at the Oxnard campaign office opening. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

The Sanders office is the only presidential campaign office in Oxnard. On the busy boulevard, a few police officers made sure all was well, and the rotating Bernie head atop the BernieVan in the nearby parking lot seemed to smile upon the crowd. The event focused on getting volunteers to canvass and help the campaign in their community. Local band Mariachi Inklakesh, led by Javier Gomez performed.

“The green new deal should have been a conservative deal from the get go,” said Dan Schmidt of Ventura. He was waiting in line at the Sanders office in a blue t-shirt that read “Republicans for Bernie.” He said he supports Sanders because, “the republicans are leading us down to the biggest tax deficit…and climate change is number one [problem].”

Dan Schmidt of Ventura at the Oxnard Bernie Campaign office on Jan. 10, 2020. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

Rebecca Sanders (no relation to Bernie), is originally from Vermont, and now lives in Port Hueneme. Her husband works there at the base. She also served in the military and she supports Bernie because “He gives me hope. For years I’ve seen what other countries have done. How they take care of their people, how they have healthcare, pay for education…those countries end up being the happiest countries…they ask how we are going to pay for it, but no one asks how we are going to pay for the war with Iran.”

The line outside moved along and everyone got inside for the speakers and to sign up with the campaign. “It was beyond what we could have imagined as far as turnout, community support, the energy,” said Tomas Rebecchi, the Central Coast and Central Valley field director for the Sanders campaign. He said about 350 people attended the event throughout the night, and already have hundreds of volunteers working in the county since the summer. He said in the week after the office opening, “We’ve had one of the best weeks yet of canvassing for the city and our region, because we have this field office, with great volunteers, energy and support from the Oxnard community.” 

Supporters outside the Sanders Oxnard Office. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

One volunteer, Rosa Escamilla of Simi Valley has been driving to Oxnard to canvass and has tallied 10,000 points on the BERN app. The app is used by the campaign to track progress and motivate volunteers. Rebecchi said Escamilla has so many points because she had identified friends, family and community members who have pledged to vote for Sanders. “The best staff only have a couple thousand, Rosa has a goal to get well over 10,000 by the end of the election.”

Rebecchi said it’s important for a national campaign to have a local field office in Oxnard because it’s traditionally “been a community that has been overlooked, taken advantage of by politicians and corporations. It has also had a lot of successes. It’s important we are in the communities that are struggling the most, helping lift them up, and to create organizers and leaders for other fights and other elections down the road.”

Rosa Escamillo of Simi Valley, a volunteer on the Sanders campaign. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

Vote by mail ballots go out in Ventura County on Feb. 3 for the March 3 primary and the Sanders campaign will be canvassing every weekend, doing call banks and voter registration. “We will be building up our army of volunteers to get out the vote on March 3.”

To make sure you are a registered voter in Ventura County visit: https://recorder.countyofventura.org/elections/elections/voter-lookups/

 ”The game of politics”

Supervisor race to get oil PAC money, again

In a document dated Jan. 2, 2020, filed with the California Secretary of State, a Political Action Committee (PAC) sponsored by oil company California Resources Corporation (CRC) will be opposing one and supporting two candidates for Ventura County Supervisor.

The PAC, called For A Better Ventura County (FABVC), states on the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) form that the committee was primarily formed for “supporting LaVere and Long, and opposing Ramirez for Supervisor 2020, with major funding and sponsored by California Resources Corporation.”

Matt LaVere, mayor of the city of Ventura and candidate for Ventura County Supervisor Dist. 1, speaking at the Democratic Club of Ventura monthly meeting on Jan. 12. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

CRC, a spinoff of Occidental Petroleum, is an active oil company in Ventura County operating hundreds of wells in fields across unincorporated county areas.

Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere and Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez are on the March 3 ballot for Ventura County Supervisor, in Dist. 1 and 5 respectively. Incumbent Kelly Long (Dist. 3) is running to defend her supervisor seat.

In 2016 another oil-funded PAC contributed over $170,000 in support of Long’s initial bid for supervisor. Long did not respond to requests for comment.

“I have no connection with this PAC, I have had no communications with anyone associated with this PAC, and if they took the time to actually research my record, they would know I want nothing to do with this PAC,” said LaVere in a written statement in which he “denounced” the PAC.

When asked about LaVere denouncing the plans of the PAC, Amy Fonzo, public affairs manager for CRC, responded, “We support committees and candidates who understand the importance of sensible regulations that foster reliable and affordable in-state energy production and its economic and social value to our communities.” She did not respond further to requests for a direct comment about LaVere’s position.

“I know that I am being opposed because of my leadership in moving Oxnard and our county towards a clean energy future,” said Ramirez, citing her work to stop a new gas fired power plant on the Oxnard coast and her support of the Clean Power Alliance. She said a transition “away from harmful fossil fuels” must happen “as fast as we reasonably can,” citing the importance of meeting the state’s clean energy goals and acting on climate change. “I for one don’t want it to be said that I didn’t do what I could when bold action was required.”

LaVere has been endorsed by local Democratic organizations and he reports that he has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. He said the “PAC is trying to trick people into believing I support their cause . . . I have never gotten involved in the game of politics.”