Santa Paula Times

More potential City Council candidates
pull nomination papers

July 25, 2014
Santa Paula News

More potential City Council candidates have pulled nomination papers including the retired director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) and a former Mayor.

Ginger Gherardi, the former head of VCTC, and John Procter, a former mayor who stepped down from the council after two terms, both pulled nomination papers Monday, according to City Clerk Lucy Blanco.

Gherardi said she is running for City Council, “Because the sewer and water issue needs to be addressed appropriately to reduce the excessive rate the people of Santa Paula are paying for these services.”

The present council, “Has not addressed cutting the rates in any shape or form... it’s outrageous that a single family house with one person can be playing almost $300 a month in sewer and water. I wonder how many showers can you take in one day?

“I believe I have the administrative experience to address these issues... “ 

Gherardi led the VCTC from its formation in 1989 to her retirement in 2007 and was credited with securing millions of dollars in grant funding during her tenure leading the commission.

She asked “Why haven’t they (the council) been up in arms since the community is, and is suffering? And I understand they are talking about increasing our rates, not decreasing them.”

Said Gherardi, “There is absolutely no reason why the people of Santa Paula should be paying the highest rates in Ventura County.”

Two of the three council incumbents up for reelection, Rick Cook and Bob Gonzales, have not yet announced their intentions or pulled the nomination paperwork.

But two-term incumbent Councilman Ralph Fernandez, an architecture instructor, pulled nomination papers last week.

Fernandez said his reason for running is, “I think we (the council) try to work it out for the community and it’s something I like to be doing.

“A lot of issues we’re dealing with now - transportation issues and recreation issues - I think I bring a different perspective than the other council members there currently.”

Fernandez believes it is, “good to have that kind of balance... and I think I’ve been doing it awhile and as you do you start to understand what the issues are and how to resolve them.”

Fernandez said he has gained experience through eight years of council service: “With experience you gain a lot of knowledge and I think eight years dealing with new issues helps you with what is coming up.”

His position as the chairman of the Ventura County Transportation Commission as well as service on other county and city level committees has given him valuable contacts.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of committees and I’ve developed working relationships,” with other officials - elected and otherwise - throughout Ventura County that Fernandez said are important to the city.

Another potential candidate, Planning Commissioner John Demers, did not return a call asking for comment.

In June 2013 Demers was named the Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Hueneme Oxnard Harbor District; he is retired from the Navy.

He was appointed to the Santa Paula Planning Commission in October 2013, a move objected to by Fernandez who wanted architect Marilyn Appleby to retain her seat on the panel.

Demers was appointed on a  2-1 vote; Councilmen Bob Gonzales and Jim Tovias recused themselves from the selection process because they had not been present during the commission’s council interview held in September.

Jenny Crosswhite and Fred Robinson, a former councilman and mayor who was defeated two years ago when he ran for a second term, have also pulled nomination forms for a 4-year council seat. Procter had declined to run for a third term and ended his council service in 2008.

Serving on the City Council pays $300 a month stipend plus a $1,000-plus monthly payment that can be applied to the city’s cafeteria health insurance plans or pocketed. The Council also receives an annual expense account of $2,000-plus for city-related business.

Gonzales has also served two four-year council terms and Cook - who had served on the council in prior years - in 2010 was again elected to the panel after an earlier defeat for reelection.

Council candidates can pull nomination papers at any time until the filing period closes on Friday, August 8 at 5 p.m. The filing must include the signatures of at least 20 registered voters that will be vetted by the Ventura County Elections Division. 

If an incumbent declines to seek reelection, candidates will have an extra five days to pull and return nomination forms, as the filing deadline will be moved to August 13 at 5 p.m.

For more information about filing for the Santa Paula City Council race, call Blanco at 805-933-4208.  

Nomination forms are available from Blanco at City Hall, 970 E. Ventura St.