Interview: Kelly Long- candidate for District 3 VC Supervisor

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VC Supervisor District 3 candidate Kelly Long

CandidatesCornerBy George Miller

Most of us never even heard of Kelly Long until the latter part of last year. Then we heard she was running for Kathy Long’s Ventura County District 3 Supervisor seat. Long has been in office, well, longer than some voters have been alive and is now retiring. I thought, who IS this woman? is she Kathy Long’s daughter or something?  Is this another Lois Capps (CD-24) nepotism situation?

It turned out that no, she is no relation and has an interesting resume. She’s very much her own woman, Camarillo resident/homeowner since 2008, married, with children, heavily involved in family and her kids’ education. Formerly a mechanical engineer with Royce Medical, a Director of Sales and Marketing and worked internationally, she now does product design management consulting, as does her husband Stuart. Even more interesting- she holds 6 patents- for diabetic footwear and casting tape- too complicated to describe here- but clever stuff. Oh, she’s also on a school board, too. Actually, not merely on the board, but past President of the Pleasant Valley School Board. She mentioned in passing that her father is a university economics professor.

Ms. Long told us that she has put many of her activities on hold to run for the Supervisor’s position, which she regards as a major opportunity to make a difference for the County.

Now it gets even more interesting. We hadn’t had much contact with her, but though no fault of our own. While we receive a steady stream of professional-looking press releases from her opponent, Carla Castilla, an experienced legislative aide, we had very little from Long. Requests for interviews went unanswered. Then, we recently found out that Laura Hernandez, a Democrat activist, is a big supporter of Ms. Long. After we picked ourselves up off the floor, we asked why. Hernandez told us that Long has actual accomplishments, has shown she cares about Ventura County and that she didn’t see that so much in Castilla.  Later, we noticed that on June 12, Hernandez had posted a comment to that effect on Long’s web site. Soon after that, we got a call from Ms. Long.

Not much of a political history on Long to investigate. Word on the street is that she’s fairly non-political, focused on work, family and kids’ school. Conservative Republicans don’t seem to regard her as a Conservative. But, when I was at a Democratic Club meeting recently, one of Ms. Castillo’s campaign staffers referenced Long. She named her only as “The Opponent,” describing her as a “hard-core Tea Party Republican” and a threat to Castilla’s candidacy, begging for help on the latter’s campaign. A couple of knowledgeable Republicans told me that was ridiculous- not that Long is a threat to Castilla, which they think that she might be, but that the “Tea Party” label doesn’t fit at all. Both of those Republicans had another label for her which also starts with an “R,” which “moderates” really hate. So, color her “purple.”

Long expresses no interest in partisan politics, says that she is nonpartisan, that the campaign is nonpartisan, that the position is “nonpartisan” and by the end of the interview I was almost starting to agree.

So, I told her that we wanted to find out where she stood on some big County issues, which we defined as:

  1. Pensions
  2. Land use
  3. Transportation sales tax
  4. Health care
  5. Water
  6. Jobs

1..Pensions

Initially she told me that pensions were now OK, since the last County changes were made and that “PEPRA” (The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act) would solve the problem. Evidently David Grau (lost to Steve Bennett in VC District 1 primary) and the VCTA didn’t agree, since they pushed pension reform very hard before being stopped by a questionable court ruling.

She pointed out that getting rid of the “spiking” which inflated pension totals and added employee contributions  were a big help. While she mentioned that industry 401K-type pensions are effective, she does not advocate a switch from the current defined benefit pension approach. She supports good benefits, especially for law enforcement/public safety.

Long did express some concern that “grandfathered” employees’ pension costs would eat away at pension funds, kiting liabilities. And they would, for well, the next 60 years or so, until the new plan cycled all the way through. On the question as to whether newer employee pensions would be “sustainable,” she was not so sure and would have to delve into it more.

2.. Land use

The big County land use question now is to “S.O.A.R.” (Save our Open Space & Agricultural Resources) or not to “S.O.A.R.”, for how long and with what tweaks. Even bitter “S.O.A.R.” opponent COLAB-VC (Coalition of Labor and Agriculture- Ventura County) has come up with their own competing, modified version of the S.O.A.R. initiative for this year’s ballot, which they call “SUSTAIN-VC.” How’s that for co-opting your rivals’ terminology? That’s a  tribute of sorts to S.O.A.R. authors Richard Francis and Steve Bennett. SUSTAIN-VC throws in a few bones to make it easier to improve agricultural land, handle buffer zones by agricultural land and other use, also allows for construction of nearby crop processing facilities and a shorter life for the initiative, before reviewing it again.

Long is all for SUSTAIN-VC, because she loves a clean environment, open space, wants to preserve it, but also loves agriculture and pastoral scenery. She believes that the County is actually hurting itself by not helping agriculture and may succeed in killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Long also believes that the 35 year term of S.O.A.R. is far too long and that too many things can change over that term. She also rued water polices as hurting agriculture too.

3..Transportation sales tax  

Long opposes the Measure AA transportation plan and sales tax increase of 1/2%, but not for all the same reasons as other opponents. She says that the 50% of money going to the cities is not subject to a definite plan and she doesn’t like that at all. She also pointed out that only 23% of the funding is designated for freeways. Long pointed out the advantages of all that work being done in the county, with the jobs and spending benefits, along with needed 101 and 118 freeways improvements.

When we asked if she would agree with the tax if those objections were dealt with and why would this tax be needed when the entire transportation infrastructure has already been largely built without it, she didn’t have a ready answer. Long agreed that some of the money originally intended for it might have been diverted, but not sure where, that we already have a gas tax for that,  we have cap and trade and still more taxes proposed. On her web site, she commits to working for a balanced budget with no new taxes. When reminded of that, she agreed- no new taxes.

4. Health care

The County is heavily involved in health care, with its own medical center and involvement in many care programs. Long said that a large amount is spent in this area, but the new Director is making significant cost savings. When we asked what the County’s responsibility is to provide health care, she responded that we “have to take care of the people….. look out for the Citizens… serve the community.”

When I asked if illegal immigrants were included, she said she had no stand on that. Long said it’s a “Catch 22” situation- that if care isn’t provided, then ultimate costs will be higher. She said she didn’t believe that taxpayer funds should be used for that, but the state requires it.

She also noted the needs of the homeless, who she said are heavily weighted toward behavioral health problems. She cited useful resources such as Casa Pacifica. When asked about the appropriate mix of public, private and subsidized health care solutions, she said that often, privately run operations can be less expensive. She also cited dental care needs and lauded the occasional free clinics, especially preventive dentistry.

Long said that requirements vary by region, that behavioral health needs are underserved, but admitted that she needed to learn more. Unusual for a politician to admit that.

Long advocated means testing for benefits.

5..Water

Ms. Long previously said: “I’ll also make meeting the water demands of county the highest priority and look at ways to complete water saving and reservoir projects in a way that ensures the protection of the groundwater basin.” 

She wrote: “Water issues in our County, especially those involving state water and groundwater, are at a critical point; they are complex and multi-faceted. We need to have a diverse portfolio of ways we can obtain and store water for the county. The state WaterFix is a critical project to support the needs of our community and assist to increase the pumping from the delta which is currently severely reduced and regulated. Also California’s new law regulating all groundwater, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is literally the new law of the land. The county is working on Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP’s) as part of it’s effort to comply with SGMA.  This will become the foundation for how all groundwater in its boundaries is used in the future.”

6..Jobs

Long feels that education is the key to prepare a workforce for employment needs. She believes that we- government/industry- should work with colleges/certification training providers to ensure that programs/capacity are available to educate/train people to fill higher paying jobs. Ventura County has a lower income than the state average and West County is even lower. Part of that is because of all the agriculture and other lower paying jobs in the county. There has been a large exodus of manufacturing and financial services out of the county, only partially offset by new arrivals.

She sees the $15 minimum wage, as well as new overtime rules for agriculture, as negatives for jobs. In general, she sees some laws as detrimental to attracting and retaining business. No business, fewer jobs. Long says that much of this is state-driven. She would talk to business to see what they need and do what she could to influence policy, advocate to the state in particular and of course, work on county level ordinances.

The naval base provides a large number of relatively well-paying jobs, especially for hi-tech contractors. (Legislators and lobbying have been highly successful in not only retaining the base, but in adding to the number of commands/projects based there.)

She laments the removal of shop and ROTC programs from schools. She also sees opportunities for nursing and other medical jobs. Long is high on VCOE (Ventura County Office of Education) building needed programs. She wrote, “as Supervisor, I’ll encourage our schools to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) to prepare students for the 21st college and job market.”

 

The election

The primary was close, so it will be a horse race- official results from VC Clerk.

VCSupv2016PrimaryResults

VC District 3 includes: Camarillo, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, Port Hueneme, southeast Oxnard, the east Oxnard Plain, the east Lockwood Valley and the eastern portion of Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme. Democrats have a 6 point registration advantage, with another 22% of registered voters stating no party preference.

Conclusion

Earlier in the day before I interviewed Ms. Long, I noticed that the “Star” had just endorsed her opponent, Carla Castilla. They wrote that she was well-versed in the issues, not citing any specific accomplishments and stating that she is also big on openness and transparency. Castilla was a longtime aide to Hannah-Beth Jackson and Lois Capps. If her views are similar to those two, then we might expect more of the same politics that many have come to associate with Sacramento in recent years. Castilla takes pride in being deeply immersed in “policy.” While Long has some knowledge of the issues, she does not yet have that depth of knowledge on all government issues. But, she ‘s solid on life experience, business and does have policy-making experience as a school board president, business executive and business owner.

Long is not a political creature. Her roots are deep in family, school, business and she has been heavily involved in all of these. Both candidates are obviously intelligent, dedicated and energetic. Would we be better served by someone someone closer to that world, with the views expressed above, or is it better to continue on as things have been going?  Your call.

A recent candidate forum with the two only reinforced what is written above. Watch Port Hueneme 9-21-16 candidate forum with Long and Castilla ….

KADYTV2Event video by Bob Allen

 

 


George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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2 Responses to Interview: Kelly Long- candidate for District 3 VC Supervisor

  1. Sh September 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    ..While she mentioned that industry 401K-type pensions are effective, she does not advocate a switch from the current defined benefit pension approach. She supports good benefits, especially for law enforcement/public safety…..

    Clearly not her forte …

    Reply
  2. William "Bill" Hicks September 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    All but her position on pensions seem to ring true to meet the needs of the County without negatively affecting the Taxpayer.

    Reply

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