On Deirdre Frank Oxnard Mayoral Candidacy

 

 

By George Miller

Deirdre Frank, mayoral candidate, has been on the Oxnard scene for years, since 1983, actually. It’s hard to miss her. She volunteers for all kinds of commissions, causes, and charities. She works for them and donates money. She operates a successful law firm specializing in personal injury and workmen’s compensation cases, employing seven people in Ventura. She’s currently the Planning Commission Chair, a key position having a major effect on city development.

She’s big on volunteer activities and led off that she’s active with the Women’s Political Caucus, proud of her work to help save the Ormond Beach wetlands and serving with the Medical Resource Foundation. This and more, including background and activities, is on her candidate web site: https://deirdrefrankformayorofoxnard2020.com/

With all that energy and enthusiasm, it’s hard to believe she’s 67 and has a 37 year old son.

Attorney and Oxnard Mayoral candidate Deirdre Frank in her Ventura Office, October, 2020

Why Deirdre Frank for Mayor?

With the Oxnard Mayor’s office up for grabs, only termed-out District 5 County Supervisor and former Oxnard Councilman John Zaragoza was running unopposed. He’s a former real estate professional. Both Mrs. Frank and her other opponent, Richard Linares, said they couldn’t allow that to happen and threw their hats into the ring as well.

When I asked her why she was running, that was reason #1. She says that Mr. Zaragoza helped cause some of Oxnard’s problems. She would also like an opportunity to provide leadership, implement some changes/ideas and “help hold Oxnard together,” she said at the recent INCO candidate forum.

At that same forum, she was asked to comment on allegations that she is “abusive, blunt and argumentative.” Her brief response: “I wish I was a man.” When I asked her about that later at our recent interview, it was clear that it wasn’t a “transgender” desire. But she lamented that people believe that such behavior in a man is acceptable, but is considered “abusive, blunt and argumentative” in a woman.

She is definitely a take charge, objectives-oriented, “git ‘er done” type  of person. Pointing to her many awards and certificates around her spacious office suite, many just propped up or on shelves without even being framed, Ms. Frank asked me if I thought she would be invited into so many organizations, many in leadership positions, if that was really a problem.

I had never exchanged  than a few words with her in passing before, so this was our first real encounter. She was very charming and open. It seemed natural, not a bit forced.

Background/Personal

Ms Frank is or was, a San Fernando Valley girl, born in Hollywood, who later moved to the west side for school (UCLA- political science), then law school and practiced in Century City. She said her mother was of Transylvanian ancestry, so don’t leave your neck exposed in her presence. Ms. Frank is divorced, with one son (37).

She told me she always wanted to be an attorney. When I asked her why, she replied “Perry Mason” (the long running TV lawyer show). It turned out she wasn’t joking. The drama of the cases and the strong, positive role model presented by that and other lawyer shows deeply motivated her to pursue it as a career, she shared with me.

She came out to Oxnard in 1984 and practiced law here, ultimately establishing her own firm.

She’s a big sports fan, especially basketball and football.

Deirdre Frank education:

Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, California, 1978
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence

University of California, Los Angeles, California, 1975
B.A., Political Science

This is directly from her law office web site:

Professional Associations and Memberships:
President of National Women’s Political Caucus
Consumer Attorneys of California Member: Board of Governors
Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles Member
Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association Member: President
National Womens Political Caucus Ventura County Chapter, Member, Board of Directors
Ventura County Bar Association, Past Member, Board of Directors
Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation, Past, First Vice-President
Commissioner, Ventura County Civil Service Commission
Chair, City of Oxnard Planning Commission
Court Appointed Mediator

Past Employment Positions:
Morgan, Wenzel & McNicholas, Los Angeles, Law Clerk, 1976 – 1978
Gilliland, Roberson & Moser, Los Angeles, Attorney, 1979 – 1981
Robertson & Frank, Century City, Attorney, 1981 – 1982
Brown & Goldberg, Oxnard, Attorney, 1982 – 1983
Frank & Rosenfeld, Oxnard, Attorney, 1984 – 1990
Pro Bono Activities:
Arbitrator, Municipal & Superior Courts over 10 years.
Judge Pro Tem, Small Claims and Municipal Court over 10 years
Judge Pro Tem, Superior Court
Fee Dispute Arbitrator — Ventura County Bar Association
Mock Trial Coach, Ventura High School, 1991 – 1992
Mock Trial Scorer, 1993 – Present
Birth Information:
May 23, 1953, Hollywood, California, United States of America

 

Positions

We discussed some of Ms. Frank’s philosophies and positions on issues. She espouses common Progressive causes, positions and uses related lexicon naturally. This puts her in tune with the current Council and City Manager.

She said her overriding priority was “quality of life,” which of course has many aspects, measurements  and potential approaches. She said money to do it is an overriding issue (supports all the tax/rate/fee increases). Street repair and cleaning are high on her list.

She opposes the four Aaron Starr ballot measures.

Position on Oxnard ballot measures:

Measure E 1 1/2% sales tax increase- yes

Measure F- Expedite Permits- No

Measure L- Expansion of Treasurer Duties- No

Measure M- Meetings requirements- No

Measure N- Meet Pavement Standards or rescind Measure O tax- No

On crime, she said that disadvantaged people will resort to it and we have to help them. She mentioned addiction as a key factor. “The police can’t be everywhere.” If she had any proposed solutions, they didn’t come out at this interview. On BLM, she sympathizes with those who have been discriminated against (“abuse is abuse”), but also believes “All Lives Matter,” she said firmly. She did not opine on the BLM organization and activities.

She said she benefited from affirmative action and was positive about that approach.

When I asked her about City Manager Alex Nguyen, she replied “I love him” and that “he’s good, asks my opinion” and helped with the short term rental situation resolution.

On governance, she said she would be more open and allow more interaction with the public at meetings “than him” (Flynn). She likes to question and get comments from applicants on the Planning Commission, she said. There would be “more deliberation…. open forums”, she offered.She added that agendas need better time management, too much was last minute and that staff review seemed to be lacking.

On development, the Planning Commission’s record mostly speaks for itself. The city is increasingly urbanized, partially fueled by state law and Council proclivities. The new Sakioka Farms business park will help bring more business in. Oxnard has far fewer businesses per capita than neighboring Ventura, but there are multiple reasons that companies choose a location. I didn’t get a clear answer from her on the Mandalay seawalls renovation situation. She believes that industrial areas should be used for industry, doesn’t like churches occupying them and singled out Calvary Chapel as an example. Calvary spent two years just to get a build-out permit for one of its sites. She’s in favor of large residential development projects like the Wagon Wheel area. She is in favor of the downtown rezoning. Likes the idea of “zacaros” (public squares).

But, she’s against the large Channel Islands Harbor Fisherman’s Wharf  apartment complex proposal and believes it should be for recreation and shopping, She views the Seattle Market as a model for its development. She’s not happy that Zaragoza supported the 800 unit complex and also the scaled down 400 unit version. She’d like to see a surfing museum there and outdoor entertainment in addition to shops and rental concessions. County officials claim that a retail-dominated project cannot be made economically viable.

Frank is opposed to short term residential rentals (STR’s) used by owners to generate income, but often becoming a nuisance and even a danger, say many homeowners. This is mostly a problem in the beach areas. Frank, an Oxnard Shores homeowner, took over the association with her team to bring it under control, but was ousted by an opposing homeowner renting faction.  The Coastal Commission also weighed in to force rentals. A compromise was finally reached and passed at the last Council meeting, ending a four year war.

Code compliance- not enforcing, take their jobs for granted. The “safe city” enforcement approach “offends.” (This involves focusing on past and repeat offenders) .

She wants the streets and alleys fixed and clean. She likes the idea of having people on probation to do clean alleys, she said. She opposes the ballot measure for mandatory street upgrades, though.

Ms Frank believes that the Water and Environmental Utilities are progressing OK, but not wastewater. She didn’t express any ideas on what should be done.

When I asked her if law enforcement had enough funding, she wouldn’t or couldn’t answer. She responded with “I’m not sure” … “would have to take an inventory and see the wish list.” She did feel that “compensation/pensions are out of line.” With what wasn’t specified. She said that City Manager Alex Nguyen said it needs “a generational fix.”

On COVID- need more enforcement- should call the police on mask scofflaws.

She wants to increase literacy, which she says is one of the biggest reasons for poverty. People who can’t read can’t get opportunities or even their rights. She sees it a lot in her law practice.

None of this came out in our interview, but I caught this on a forum video: Climate change- refit all buildings and make all new ones green-compliant. Beach properties will have to be “elevated” for sea rise. Need to involve FEMA.

Relationship with Ventura County- she cited two areas: conflict over Fisherman’s Wharf project (she’s opposed to their proposal and lack of sufficient health services (a county obligation), especially mental health and dealing with the homeless. The subject of other disagreements with the county on harbor management wasn’t explored.

Ms. Frank is in favor of helping the homeless, is not opposed* to the the proposed $34+ million downtown homeless “navigation center.” She doesn’t think that the city sufficiently engaged the Planing Commission on the project. From what I could see, it was driven by the Housing Department. She’s in favor of the purchase and conversion of the Vagabound Hotel on Oxnard Boulevard for the homeless, but is concerned about how it would be run.

I asked her why people should vote for her instead of Messrs. Zaragoza or Linares. In summary, she replied with her qualifications. She then added that bad things happened on Zaragoza’s watch and she was also unhappy about his opposition to the Ormond Beach plan she worked so hard on and his lack of support for needed levee work. (It appears that he later supported it as a County Supervisor, though). She felt that he “sold out” downtown with the approval of the movie theater at The Collection outdoor mall, which negatively impacted activity at the downtown theater and surrounding businesses.

She spoke well of Linares , but believes that he lacks the qualifications and experience to be Mayor and should first serve on Citizens Advisory Groups/Commissions (as she has done) to prepare for higher office.

Mayor Flynn Comments

I asked the current Mayor, Tim Flynn, what he thought of Ms Frank. He responded that “she’s policy-oriented, competent, a master of detail and has a New York personality.” He said Zaragoza is the opposite. He said Richard Linares is a “nice man” but that “he should start out with the CAG’s (Citizen Advisory Groups) before attempting to work his way up to the Council then Mayor.”

Law Office of Deirdre Frank-   Read

Few things say more about a person than a business they created, operate, make a living from and spend most of their time on. She has what appears to be a thriving practice.

Ms. Frank’s spacious and well-appointed law office is in a nice office building at 1280 Victoria Blvd. in Ventura, within easy reach of  the courthouse. She has made upscale architectural enhancement touches within the scope of buildout limitations.

There are legal volumes, reference books, office equipment and the aforementioned awards and artwork by people she knows something about. There’s even what looks like a bronze statue of Lady Justice, which is the place I picked for the main photo (above) in the article.

But much more important than the facility is who is inside and what they do. Ms. Frank showed me every room and introduced me to every person in the office while I was there, including her top workmen’s comp litigator, paralegals and assistants. There were stacks of bankers boxes around containing case materials. Some materials are digitized and searchable. Ms Frank likes the synergy of using past cases to help build new ones.

As mentioned previously, her firm specializes in personal injury and workmen’s comp cases. They further specialize in representing plaintiffs in such cases. Ms. Frank told me that she loves to help out such people in distress who are up against powerful companies and insurers.

The firm has a three star Yelp rating, with 13 reviews running to both extremes. Some were overjoyed by the help they received and blunt, honest advice. Others were unhappy with being blown off because their cases weren’t of interest or didn’t like the bedside manner. When I mentioned that to her, she responded in trademark fashion with: “anyone who selects an attorney based on a Yelp review is an idiot.” But she appeared to be very familiar with the reviews in question and rattled off a couple of stories, that were incisive and a bit humorous. She said she couldn’t comment publicly because it could violate attorney-client privilege.

 

Videos of recent Oxnard mayoral candidate forums:

 

* We initially erred in saying Ms. Frank was opposed to the $34 million homeless navigation Center.

Note- candidate claims are unverified.


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

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Sister Mary Elizabeth

Ya gonna hook up with her Georgie?