PICTURED: Janice Parvin on the campaign trail. Photo submitted
by Alex Wilson
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will have two new members later this year, since Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks was forced out of office by term limits and Bob Huber decided against seeking reelection to his Simi Valley-based district.
The June 7 primary and possible runoff elections in November could have major political ramifications for the officially nonpartisan board.
While Parks has been registered as both Republican and Democrat in the past, she’s best known for her pro-environment stances representing the second district. Democrat and longtime Thousand Oaks City Council Member Claudia Bill-de la Peña said environmental issues are a top priority, while Republican candidates Jeff Gorell and Tim McCarthy stress the need to help businesses succeed.
The fourth district covering Simi Valley and Moorpark has been represented by Republicans for decades. But that could change if Democrat Bernardo Perez, a former Moorpark mayor and current Ventura County Community College District Trustee, wins election. Perez is facing off against current Moorpark Mayor Janice Parvin, Dean Kunicki and Ed Abele (both from Simi Valley) — all of whom are Republicans.
In both of the hotly contested supervisorial races, any candidate who receives over 50% of the vote June 7 will automatically win the election. If no candidate tops 50%, the top two candidates will face off in the November general election.
VC District 2
The recent redrawing of supervisorial districts following the 2020 census provided an opening for Jeff Gorell to run for the second district seat, since he lives in an eastern portion of Camarillo that was previously in the third district. The Santa Rosa Valley remained in the second district in the recent redistricting.
Gorell has spent years in the public eye, first as a Ventura County Deputy District Attorney, then as a state assembly member, and most recently as a deputy mayor of Los Angeles working on homeland security issues.
Claudia Bill-de la Peña has served on the Thousand Oaks City Council for 20 years following a long career as a TV news producer.
Tim McCarthy owns a security business and is making his first run at elected office.
McCarthy said he became politically energized during the pandemic over his opposition to vaccine mandates and forced business closures, as well as anger over social unrest and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bill-de la Peña said protecting the environment will be a top priority if she’s elected. “We have much to lose if we don’t take care of climate change and the environment first and foremost. Without that, nothing else in Ventura County can really thrive, and that is the economy and the quality of life.”
Gorell said creating jobs with good wages in a wide variety of industries would be a priority. “So that folks here who don’t have an advanced degree or a science degree can actually still, nevertheless, have a job, have a career, raise a family.”
Bill-de la Peña and Gorell both said they have plans to deal with homelessness if elected.
Bill-de la Peña said she backs getting a roof over the heads of unsheltered people as quickly as possible. She said she’s proud of actions taken when she was mayor last year to create an emergency housing project as well as a permanent supportive housing program. “That will make a dent in the way that we manage homelessness.”
Gorell said he wants to put an end to people camping out in highly visible locations. “To take short term action to clear homeless encampments, and create an environment that will prevent homelessness from expanding. Every day that goes by, an additional person or two is added to our population of people experiencing homelessness, and it becomes more and more difficult.”
McCarthy said one of the main issues that motivated him to run is election integrity. “The public doesn’t have confidence in the election process. As a society we all need to feel comfortable that the election process is valid so that everybody wants to vote.”
McCarthy also said anger over government actions during the pandemic inspired him to run. “That’s a huge issue for a ton of citizens that believe in the Constitution. That government has ignored the First Amendment. Here we are, having to show our vaccination status.”
VC District 4
The fourth supervisorial district did not undergo any radical changes during the redistricting process and still includes the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark. Supervisor Huber’s decision to forgo a bid for reelection led four candidates to seek the position.
Dean Kunicki is a property developer who serves as vice chairman of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association and was formerly a member of the Ventura County Board of Education. He said supporting police is the top issue that motivated him to run.
“Number one is public safety,” said Kunicki. “We are seeing a spike in our crime rate and one of my fears is that we need to be sure we provide the proper funding to the sheriff’s department.”
Abele is a retired federal prosecutor and formerly served on the board of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. He said he wants to create a better business climate if elected.
“We have been seeing middle and working class families leaving the county,” Abele explained. “We’ve been seeing local businesses leaving the county. Wealthy elites are moving from L.A. County to Ventura County and our quality of life is declining. And it’s all due to the fact that we have an overregulated government.”
Moorpark Mayor Janice Parvin said she’s a unifier and will work to build consensus if elected supervisor. She said that her top priority is public safety, citing a recent upswing in residential burglaries by crews from South America as well as catalytic converter thefts.
“People are fearful. They want to see more law enforcement,” Parvin said. “And you know, Moorpark is the third safest city in all of California. But you can’t keep it safe unless you monitor how we’re doing. Do we need more officers? And if we do, where do we need them?”
Perez said that he has been involved in Moorpark politics since moving there in the 1970s, even before Moorpark became a city in 1983, by getting involved in neighborhood councils. His civic involvement eventually led him to become a planning commissioner and serve 12 years on the city council, including a term as mayor. For the last 11 years Perez has served on the Ventura County College District board of trustees.
Perez said he hopes to build on his past accomplishments if elected. “I helped produce affordable housing opportunities for working families, seniors, persons with developmental disabilities, farmworkers and other essential workers. I’ve helped create partnerships with local employers to put people in high demand, high paying jobs.”
This story was updated at 8:00 a.m. May 13, 2022 to reflect that the Santa Rosa Valley remained in district two during redistricting and corrected an instance where candidate Tim McCarthy’s name was presented incorrectly.