Ventura’s District 1 City Council Debate Candidates Differentiate Themselves

By Kiana Nordskog


On September 20, 2018, The League of Women Voters hosted a debate between Ventura’s district one’s city council candidates, Irene V. Henry, Marco Cuevas, Kevin Clerici, and Sofia Rubalcava. Henry, a businesswoman, emphasized connecting west side to the beach and downtown by making the trolley route longer and capping the freeway. Cuevas, an economics student at California State University Channel Islands felt that public safety and fiscal responsibility were important issues for District 1. Clerici, a long-term promoter of Ventura District 1 who works and lives in the district, believes neighborhood safety, better circulation, and maintaining the character of the area were important values. Rubalcava, a translator, wants the same quality of life for all residents and one of the ways she wants to do that is by improving access.  

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As for the water issue, Cuevas wants to research the process and impact of desalination and the possibility of connecting to state water. Clerici, Rubalcava, and Henry agree that the idea of desalination is too expensive. In addition to supporting the current water policy, Clerici hopes of using effluent water as a resource. Rubalcava hopes to limit the use of water for landscaping, use greywater systems in homes, use recycled water, and connect to the state water. Henry, like Clerici, wants to keep the current water policy. Henry, also, wants to hire more employees in the water industry, including a water engineer.

The candidates were asked how they were going to engage civil bodies and advance development. Clerici, who is involved in multiple organizations, emphasized that many community groups already exist and they needed to listen to more. He, also, wants to limit the amount of space used for industrialization and rehab older spaces to protect Ventura’s culture and heritage. Rubalcava felt that the lack of affordable housing was an issue. Her proposed solution was to develop the relationship between all residents and community groups. Henry made a distinction between M1 and M2 zoning districts. According to her, many businesses left the area and a way to bring them back was to encourage residents to live in that area. Cuevas is working to listen to people’s needs and encourage economic growth. One of the ways he hopes to encourage economic growth was to use empty land and support “smart growth”.

The Thomas Fire that occurred December revealed an issue with the effectiveness of the current evacuation policies. The candidates were asked how they were going to solve this issue as well as reducing gridlock. All of the candidates agreed that the 33-Stanley interchange was their priority because it is dangerous. In addition, they all want to provide more safety for cyclists and offer evacuation instructions in English and Spanish. Cuevas wants to work more with the police and fire department to have better policies. Rubalcava wants to incentivize alternatives to traffic such as public transportation. In terms of evacuation policies, she wants to have a system of block captains in place.

Homelessness is an issue in Ventura. Rubalcava, Clerici, and Henry support a year-round shelter for the homeless. Rubalcava wants to remind people that the homeless are people too. According to her research, most of the homeless are from Ventura County. She recognizes that many of the homeless are young and she wants to start homelessness prevention in high school. Cuevas makes a distinction between the homeless who are simply homeless and the homeless who are unstable. According to his research, Ventura’s homelessness rate has gotten higher whole Oxnard’s has gotten lower. Clerici supports the current policy but also wants to collaborate with the police department, fire department, and social services. Henry believes that the issue of homelessness has been given temporary solutions.

Concerning the environmental policies and social justice, Clerici mentioned that he is a part of Friends of the River and supports the Ventura Land Trust. He hopes to protect residents from landslides. Rubalcava supports preserving the river and natural resources. Henry acknowledged that there is diversity in the residents and nature of Ventura. Supplying housing is important to her. Cuevas said that there is pollution in the air which is dangerous. He wants to look into planting oak trees because they are drought tolerant.

In her closing statement, Henry emphasized that she wants to ensure that the Measure O funds are spent well and she wants to work together. Clerici mentioned that the city is venturing into uncharted waters regarding the voting system and therefore the city council needs someone who is experienced. Cuevas wants to find real solutions to issues that Ventura has. Rubalcava believes she has a good resume, especially considering that she is the only bilingual candidate who was born and raised on the west side.

Kiana Nordskog of Ventura is a student, studying journalism and will major in that after she graduates high school and moves on to college soon.

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