by Kimberly Rivers
The Nov. 3 election is just one month away, and ballots will be mailed to every registered voter on Oct. 2. While the 2020 Presidential Election weighs heavily on the minds of voters, it’s the local races where citizens can most directly have an impact on their communities.
Local elected officials like county supervisors and city councilmembers set police department budgets and can oversee the policy of local law enforcement. County and city governments manage local land use by granting permits for everything within their boundaries, from new housing to oil wells. Local governments manage the local water supply and set the contracts with energy providers for electricity.
Local governments can set rules and policies to combat climate change or structural racism that are stricter than state or federal rules, and provide greater oversight as well.
County and city officials also oversee the local agencies that respond during natural disasters and public health emergencies, and provide support for community members struggling with mental illness, addiction or homelessness.
As residents become aware of the power of local government, local clubs for the Republican and Democratic parties are getting more involved in races that historically were non-partisan, and more PAC money is pouring into local races.
In Part I of our Ventura County 2020 Election cycle coverage, we asked candidates for Ventura County Supervisor, Ventura City Council and Simi Valley Mayor and City Council a series of questions. Ventura City Council responses will be in our Oct. 8 issue. All candidates in each race were contacted, and for each race the candidates all received the same questions and we’ve included the responses from those who supplied them by press deadline. Responses are presented in alphabetical order.
Our election coverage will continue until we know the results of all local races.
Ventura County Supervisor, District 5
Only one county supervisor seat will be on the ballot in November. The incumbent, Supervisor John Zaragoza, is termed out. A field of candidates was thinned out in the March primary election and on Nov. 3 voters will choose between two current members of the Oxnard City Council, Mayor Tim Flynn and Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez.
District 5 includes the city of Oxnard, the largest by population (over 210,000) in the county; about 15 percent of Oxnard residents live in poverty (federal definition).
Dist. 5 includes the communities of Oxnard Shores, Mandalay Bay, Silver Strand, Hollywood Beach, Hollywood by the Sea, Channel Islands Harbor, El Rio, Nyeland Acres, Del Norte, Oxnard College, Oxnard Plain, Strickland and a portion of the Ventura County Naval Base Pt. Hueneme.
History and background information
Tim Flynn:61 years old, current Mayor of the City of Oxnard. Holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science from U.C. Santa Barbara and Masters in International Relations from Catholic University.
I was a high school teacher for 25 years. I taught in the classroom but I also provided one-on-one teaching for local kids who were in independent study. These were good kids, but they were dealing with challenges at home or with learning issues. My role was to be a mentor and a role-model, and to help prepare them to succeed after they graduated.
One of my former students, Dormacet, heard I was running for this position and she reached out to record a video that described how I had a positive impact on her life. I was just really touched by her words.
Carmen Ramirez: I am now 72 years old. I’ve been a practicing attorney since 1974, graduating from Loyola Law School earlier that year. I was raised in the San Gabriel Valley, in a neighborhood much like La Colonia in Oxnard, with six siblings and learned how to share. Since 1978, I have practiced law in Oxnard and Ventura County, representing people trying to obtain housing, disability benefits, civil, educational and consumer rights. I have taught law at the Colleges of Law in the subjects of Landlord Tenant, Consumer Law, and Collaborative Advocacy. I’ve been a board member of many community organizations, including Ventura County Community Foundation, Teatro de Las Americas, Cabrillo Economic Development, Studio Channel Islands Art Center, El Concilio, CAUSE and more and I continue to be a member of the Ventura County Bar Association (VCBA), serving on the Lawyers’ Referral Committee. In 1998, I was president of VCBA. While here in Ventura County, I worked on many legal issues involving farmworkers and met the legendary Cesar Chavez at a celebration of successful efforts to keep the farmworkers’ in their housing at Rancho Sespe.
Why did you first run for elected office? Why the shift now to county supervisor?
Tim Flynn: I first ran because I wanted to get things done. I was active in my neighborhood and we were dealing with graffiti, an abandoned hospital and car-break-ins. The city was often slow to act.
When I got on the council I was able to take action. We established a Graffiti Task Force. Anyone can call to report graffiti and the city will come wipe it out. Working with the City Council and city staff, I started a program called “Safe Homes, Safe Families” to clean up dangerous living conditions for Oxnard residents. I also pushed the city to accelerate the schedule to repave streets so that our residents would not have to wait 10 years.
I am seeking the position of county supervisor to bring high-paying jobs for Oxnard. The county has failed to get the harbor fixed up, that is a top priority that will deliver great new amenities for the people of Oxnard while producing high-paying jobs.
Carmen Ramirez: I ran for Oxnard Council following my efforts to stop an LNG terminal off Oxnard’s coast, bringing people from all walks of life in our city and allies from everywhere to oppose an unnecessary, dangerous and polluting project. I have been a leader promoting a healthier environment for Oxnard residents.
Representation on the board is essential to better access to county resources for residents of greater Oxnard, including equitable budget decisions. I will collaborate with residents for a new prosperous vision for Channel Islands Harbor. The supervisors control the policy and budget for: disaster preparedness, fire and emergency services, the sheriff’s budget as well as the district attorney and public defender. Many Oxnard residents are dependent on county health and social services, including behavioral health. I served on regional and county boards such as Southern California Association of Governments, VC Air Pollution Control District, Local Agency Formation Commission, VC Regional Energy Alliance, Economic Development Collaborative, and the Clean Power Alliance to represent the interests of greater Oxnard residents and businesses. I am ready to improve District 5, including the unincorporated areas of El Rio, Nyeland Acres and our beach areas, with county resources.
What is one issue in Dist. 5 that is a priority for you? Why is it a priority and what is the first thing you would do if elected to start to address that issue?
Tim Flynn: Rebuilding jobs, first and foremost. People are hurting from the pandemic. Thousands of jobs disappeared in our county overnight. These are kids, parents and seniors. The first thing I would do if elected would be to partner with the county economic development team and personally market our community to employers who offer clean, good-paying jobs.
We had a huge success with this approach in Oxnard, where hundreds of new jobs will be announced in October. I initiated Oxnard’s campaign for Amazon’s second headquarters as an opportunity to promote our shovel-ready sites. While the headquarters was awarded to Virginia, Oxnard was able to land a major employer.
We can repeat that success in lots of places, including Channel Islands Harbor. I want that Harbor thriving again by listening to the community, getting their buy-in, and bringing in good-paying jobs for construction and operation.
We live in one of the greatest places in the country – great climate, we have the beaches, we are hardworking people. With Covid, employers are looking to improve the quality of life for their employees. I believe in Oxnard and will market our community to bring employers here.
Carmen Ramirez: The main issue is accelerating recovery from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, which has caused death, illness, deepening poverty, a housing crisis and devastation of businesses and the workers and consumers that depend on them. This is especially true for the essential workers who need to keep working for their own households but are in fear of getting sick. While there has been some relief for businesses and for renters, many have been left out. There has been no or little relief for landlords and homeowners, which foreshadows an increase in homelessness and overcrowding. Businesses need more assistance from every source, including federal relief, which is a return of our tax dollars to support.
I will continue and advocate to enhance the county’s current efforts to help families and businesses through grants. But also, would put an emphasis on getting the technology and planning that many of our small businesses lack. As a member of the VCCF oversight committee helping to review the county’s $23 million grants program, it’s clear to me that businesses need lots of technical and planning support to survive and then thrive. Essential workers also need county support to keep working and living safely.
What is one thing that you are proud to have accomplished during your time in elected office. What did it mean to you and how did it impact the community?
Tim Flynn: The Safe Homes, Safe Families program, which I spearheaded. We work with landlords who have ignored repeated city code violations and have allowed unsafe and unsanitary living conditions. Some renters don’t have the resources to fight back. The program has cleaned up a lot of places and has helped provide more decent housing for kids, families and seniors.
It was very fulfilling to have helped people find more comfort in their homes. I think about the kids who I worked with as a teacher. Many of them had enough to deal with without living conditions making their lives even more difficult.
Carmen Ramirez: My accomplishments have brought respect to our Oxnard, which has earned a reputation of being a renewable energy leader in California despite the fact that Oxnard is a working class and immigrant community. In the past, projects proposed to be sited in Oxnard would not receive the scrutiny they required, especially when it involved polluting industries. With my leadership our city opposed and defeated the Puente Power Project, to replace a natural gas fired power plant on the Oxnard Coast. With the support of the community and my council colleagues, we fought a successful battle and no more such power plants will be built anywhere in California. The energy it supplied will be mostly replaced with a 100 MGW battery storage facility with good jobs and community benefits, including an upgraded water system in El Rio. I also led the effort to join the Clean Power Alliance, providing renewable energy, investing in the development of more renewable energy for three million customers in Southern California.
Oxnard is doing its part to address climate change. And no longer will our coastline be targeted for industrialization. I look forward to a beautiful coastline that our residents deserve as much as other coastal cities.
What is one thing that you have not been asked about that voters should know about you?
Tim Flynn My family inspires me every day. I have three daughters that my late wife Julie and I raised in Oxnard. They let me know when I need to pick up my game. My parents, John and Diane Flynn, have lived a life of service. My dad redefined the impact one could have as a county supervisor – he helped whoever needed it, regardless of whether it was a county responsibility. I try to hold myself to the standards my parents have set.
Carmen Ramirez: I think I have been asked about everything….meanwhile voters should know that I have devoted my life to civic activity, being engaged in my community since I was in college. I don’t just do my job and call it a day. I work as an attorney, a city councilperson, and I will work diligently as a County Supervisor to improve the lives of our residents. That’s the only reason for me to want to be elected. I care deeply about the future of our young people, who are looking at a difficult future, I am listening to their concerns and I can help. I will look out for the interests of our most vulnerable, seniors, marginalized, the disabled. I respect the law, I respect different opinions and want to get to great compromises with people that I might not initially agree with. But I will never compromise about your health and the well being of your families, that is my number one priority.
I am proud of my endorsements from Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Tom Steyer, former presidential candidate and businessman, many essential worker organizations, most electeds serving us in state and federal offices and my neighbors here in Oxnard.