Santa Paula: Sales Tax Campaign Organizational Meeting Kickoff

By Sheryl Hamlin

About twenty citizens met to discuss a grassroots campaign for the 2016 Santa Paula 1% Sales Tax measure which was approved by the council in June. A previous report discussed the polling the city commissioned to understand the mood of the electorate. The final language of the measure was approved at the June 20, 2016 council meeting.

Subsequently, four of the five council members met at Council Member Gherardi’s home to discuss how to organize the campaign. Prior to the meeting at her home, Council Member Gherardi obtained a legal opinion from the City Attorney who said such meeting did not violate the Brown Act because the subject matter had already occurred at council and nothing else was under discussion. The county District Attorney was brought in to the analysis, who also concurred with the City Attorney. The result of the meeting at Council Member Gherardis home was a list of action items and a date for the seedling organizational meeting.

Various attendees spoke enthusiastically about the measure and noted the severity of the citys financial situation, which has been well documented. Click here for discussion of recently approved budget.

The group voted Al Guilin, long time resident, Deacon of Saint Sebastian Church and noted author, as chair, who immediately suggested the addition of a co-chair. The group then selected Carlos Juarez, retired Santa Paula Police Lieutenant, well-known musician and new President of the Santa Paula Rotary, as co-chair. Carlos Juarez is also a train aficionado who spends hours creating the popular Holiday Train Show at the Odd Fellows. Santa Paula Unified School Board Member Kelsey Stewart was chosen to be secretary. Still to be chosen is the treasurer. Connie Tushla, Gary Nasalroad (not present) and Chris Mahon volunteered to be on the Executive Committee. Laura Hernandez volunteered to the coordinator. As Connie Tushla suggested, there will soon be a larger group involved in the measure.

Richard Rudman spoke about the necessity of teamwork and organization. As a member of the failed Measure F (2014) Citizens for Safer Santa Paula, he volunteered to provide experience and footwork.

The group was presented with a list of tasks including the development of the ballot argument, mailers, advertising, signs, fundraising and messaging. Differentiating between Measure F and the new Measure T (just named) will be essential.

Measure T is a General Tax with priorities in spending with no required directives for the funds, while Measure F was a Specific Tax which specified how funds would be spent. Measure T requires 50% plus one vote to pass, while Measure F required a 2/3 vote to pass. It failed 2152 (N) to 2931 (Y), so was very close to the 2/3 requirement. Measure T includes language for a Citizens Oversight Committee, details of which will be discussed at a future council meeting. The priorities of Measure T monies are funding for both police and fire services, fixing our streets and providing youth programs, as discussed at council, the polling and at the citizens study session.

Election Day is November 8, 2016. A high turnout is expected because of the Presidential Election and huge ballot.


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