Thousand Oaks City Council candidates’ debate- 5-9-15

By Kevin Harris

Ed Jones, Rob McCoy, Dan Roundtree and Chaise Rasheed faced off in Saturday’s Thousand Oaks City Council candidates forum. The topics of water rationing, traffic congestion and mixed use development brought out the best in the candidates.

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Moderator CLU Political Science Professor Herb Gooch (KADYTV video screen shot)

The Greater Conejo Chamber of Commerce and CLU held the event at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. The event was sponsored by Southern California Gas Company and CLU, and co-sponsored by Waste Management, with KADYTV  as a media sponsor, which recorded the event. All voters should see this before making their final decisions.

The event, which ran approximately two hours total, was moderated by Dr. Herb Gooch, Professor of Science at CLU. After a brief introduction by Rick Lemmo, the chamber’s Chairman of the Board, who highlighted Thousand Oaks’ business-friendly attitude, Dr. Gooch introduced the four candidates in alphabetical order, and gave them each three minutes to introduce themselves and to give a brief background of their qualifications, histories and accomplishments.

KADYTV2KADYTV event video

 

 

 

 

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Ed Jones (KADYTV video screen shot)

Ed Jones

The first candidate to speak was Conejo Recreation & Parks District Commissioner Ed Jones. He started out by telling the audience that he’s a 51-year resident of the Conejo Valley and has raised five children in Thousand Oaks. But more to the point, Jones said that he was on the committee that drafted the original developmental plans for Thousand Oaks, and was on the original city council. Of particular historical interest was when he explained that Thousand Oaks has much of its rural, open-space feel today because he and the rest of the first city council demanded that any developers at the time donate 25% of their land to schools, parks and open space.

Mr. Jones closed by laying out his “Five Point Plan.”: 1) Fiscal prudence, 2) Responsiveness, 3) Senior Programs, 4) Support safety services, 5) Protect the environment. He said he places particular emphasis on number five.

 

Rob McCoy

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Rob McCoy (KADYTV video screen shot)

The next candidate at bat was Rob McCoy, a 15-year resident of Thousand Oaks, originally from San Jose. McCoy went to school in Fresno and said he saw the destruction that over development can do while he was there, He is a local church pastor and added that he’s running for city council not as an experienced politician but “as a citizen wanting to make a difference.”

Mr. McCoy’s mother was the President of “Republican Women,” and his father did three tours of Vietnam as a Navy Captain. One brief but very touching moment came when Mr. McCoy mentioned that the day before the forum, he went to say goodbye to his father as he was getting ready to pass.

 

 

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The third candidate to speak was Chaise Rasheed, who has lived in Thousand Oaks since 1999, with family ties in the city since 1987. Mr. Rasheed comes from a customer service and a retail support background, for companies including Cha-Chas, JC Penny and Macys. He is also a long time church volunteer and according to him, the only Democrat on the panel.

 

 

 

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The final candidate to speak was Dan Roundtree, a 26-year resident of Thousand Oaks and a UCLA grad in Sociology (1982). He also received his financial planning certificate from Cal Lutheran. Mr. Roundtree, who has owned and operated a local financial planning firm since 1988, has also taken over 30 classes on city government. His father was a LAPD police officer.

Mr. Roundtree said he puts a high priority on financial planning, and since state and federal revenues have been dropping, “it would be a good idea to have (a financial planner) in that position,” as he asked the attendees to consider voting for him.

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Questions for the Candidates

The next section of the forum included questions to the candidates from the moderator, Dr. Gooch. These questions ranged from how to get Amgen back to Thousand Oaks full scale to where candidates stand on Measure E (limits on new housing construction) to whether the candidates agree with the governor’s residential drought restriction and penalty plans.

The answers were mostly as expected, with all four candidates either backing Measure E or saying the issue is a matter for local voters to decide. On the drought restrictions, while all the candidates agreed it is a serious issue and restrictions are needed, Ed Jones’ comments stood out. Mr. Jones believes the issue of conserving water should be elevated to the “patriotic level,” and would like to see things like essay contests at local schools to generate new ideas about water conservation, among other things.

Dr. Gooch then asked the panel if they would support a local sales tax increase to help ease growing traffic congestion around Thousand Oaks. Predictably, no candidates came out in support of a sales tax increase.

But an interesting exchange took place when Mr. Rasheed proposed beefing up local public transportation as a way to reduce traffic congestion. Mr. Jones responded by pointing out that Thousand Oaks is not laid out in a standard public grid, making public transportation very difficult to run… as indicated by the nearly empty busses seen currently around the city.

Mr. Roundtree then offered some of the more effective sounding ideas on the topic: Ask local businesses to spread out employees hours throughout the day; encourage ride sharing; and encourage people to both live and work in Thousand Oaks.

But on the question of Mixed use for Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Mr. Roundtree seemed out of step with the other candidates. He said he supports mixed use, and suggested Thousand Oaks is behind the times for not having its downtown structured using methods that Europe has used for over 400 years.

Mr. McCoy took great exception to that however, by pointing out that other attempts to mimic European society do not always translate well here, such as the governor’s “bullet train.”

Mr. Jones then pointed out other areas, such as Santa Barbara’s congested State Street, as an example of what mixed use could turn Thousand Oaks Boulevard into.

The next and final substantive part of the forum included questions from the audience, though only one was presented in time to be considered. The question that was given to the panel was centered on whether public funds should be granted to private businesses, which somehow morphed into the specific issue of whether the city should pay for a parking structure for auto dealerships at the city’s Auto Center. All four candidates opposed such action.

Each candidate then gave closing statements, and reiterated why we should vote for them

70,000 people are eligible to vote, but turnout is expected to be quite small, since this special election, triggered by the departure of Jacqui Irwin to go to the state assembly, created a vacancy.So, every vote will count more than usual.

 

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Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris

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Kevin Harris is a former reporter, editor and journalist, and previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists. He is now a realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Oak Park. 

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