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Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez (Courtesy photo)
Thursday, October 8, 2020

By Chris Frost



Oxnard--The Ventura County Board of Supervisors forum continues with Diane Velcy asking Candidate Carmen Ramirez if she supports more oil and gas drilling in Ventura County.


If they end drilling, she wants to know her solution is for jobs.


Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn and Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez each shared their visions for Ventura County in the future, but they both want the county to succeed.


Ramirez said it's time for a transition. She quoted a newspaper article about terrible fires caused by the heat.


"We have heat caused by greenhouse gasses, caused by fossil fuel," she said. "I know this is the history of our county, country, and elsewhere, that you use fossil fuels for energy, but we have new technologies. The Clean Power Alliance, which the city is a part of, has developed lower-cost energy sources. Those are where the jobs are."


In the meantime, she said oil drilling provides definite health detriments.


"I appreciate what the county supervisor's majority did, doing a setback from homes, schools, and sensitive sources," she said. "We've got to transition. It's hard, but remember, we used to light our homes with whale blubber. Let's make a safety net for those who can't transition; let's make sure our young people can get trained in these new jobs. They're here now; it's not the future. That's where the market is going. It can't be changed. Let's get on it and not be left behind. Let's not leave our workers behind. That's where the great jobs are."


Flynn said out of the 58 counties in California, Ventura County is number 3 behind Kearn and Los Angeles County in oil and natural gas production.


"This is a vital and integral part of Ventura County's economy, but we know that we have a climate crisis," he said. We understand that. The bottom line is, and I just heard Mayor Pro Tem say it is transition. We have some of the highest paying jobs right here in the city of Oxnard from members who work in the oil and natural gas industry. It would be unacceptable and unconscionable that those individuals are laid off from those jobs, and those jobs are replaced with minimum wage jobs, jobs that don't have benefits. That is absolutely unacceptable."


To Flynn, a transition is what it's all about.


"I, as a candidate for the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, want to rigorously get behind the county's 2017 economic development strategic plan and make the transition," he said.


With all that said, Flynn emphasized that higher-paying jobs should not be sacrificed.


"We do have to pursue the heath and safety of our community, but it's about higher-paying jobs and upward social mobility for all the residents of Oxnard and all the residents of Ventura County," he said. 


Manuel Herrera said renewable energy is a major topic, and it's on everyone's mind.


"Would you support the development of a comprehensive plan in Ventura County for achieving renewable energy sources," he asked.


Flynn said he joined Ramirez on an alternative energy proposal for Oxnard residents.


"The answer to your question is yes," he said. "Manuel, the devil is in the details. That's what the supervisor has to understand before they make his or her vote on any issue. What is going to be the direct impacts on the residents of Ventura County? We have a climate crisis, and it begins with our individual behavior. There is no question about that. The fact of the matter is that people can't afford to live here right now. We have three and four families living in one home in the City of Oxnard. We have decreased revenues as a result of that. We have a sales tax initiative on the ballot that's directly related to the city's overcrowding. The only way we way that we're going to end this overcrowding and embrace this change that you're talking about is through higher-paying jobs. That is the unique skill that I'm going to bring to the Board of Supervisors if I am fortunate enough to get elected.  You do not compromise higher-paying jobs while you pursue sound environmental policies."


Ramirez reminded everyone that people heated their homes with whale blubber, and back then, people were afraid of what would happen without their horse and buggy, and they would lose jobs.


"We have to change, and we have to help people who are in the industry now and are supported by an industry that is not accountable to the people," she said.


She cited the California Resources Corporation during the primary.


"That same industry, a bankrupt company, spent almost a half-million dollars spreading lies about me," she said. "I was disappointed that none of my opponents at the time spoke out about what they knew were lies. They had a half-million dollars against me, but they still filed for bankruptcy. What they want to do is leave their workers holding the bag, the taxpayers holding the bag for all the pollution they caused, and all the climate crisis. We've got to change, it's an emergency, and our future is at stake."


She said Ventura Clean Energy, based in El Rio, is providing jobs, project labor agreements, union jobs, and community benefits.


"They're redoing the water system there and investing $20 million in our county," Ramirez said. "Let's go there and not be stuck with these old polluting industries. Don't let them tell lies about me."


Yolanda Solorio asked what each candidate would do to promote social equity in Oxnard?


Ramirez said it's been her life's work, and she grew up in a low-income family in a neighborhood much like La Colonia.


"I was so pleased when I became a lawyer because it was a dream come true," she said. "Because of the civil rights opportunities I had, I became a lawyer, and I did go to work for legal aid. I represented the people like so many of the people in Oxnard today. There were farmworkers, Spanish-speaking people, people who were disabled, single moms, and kids with special ed needs. I knew what they were going through, and they call me every single day. I'm aware that if we don't provide social equity, it's not going to hurt those people, it's going to hurt all of us. They won't be productive; they'll be into crime. They'll be living in overcrowded situations, and they won't be able to afford a house. That's been my life's work. I'm going to work on it, along with healthcare, better education, and better internet, which means better jobs."


Flynn said he and Ramirez are byproducts of the American dream and are middle-class people.


"My life has been dedicated to assisting students, in particular," he said. "Every single day, I am dedicated to students and their families on realizing the American dream. Their hopes and aspirations are connected very directly to what teachers do in the classroom and what they learn in school. I have that experience."


Flynn has 25 years of experience working directly with Oxnard families and giving them hope for the American dream.


"My candidacy is based on the American dream," he said. "I'm a byproduct of the American dream. I want to bring that to the residents of this city, but it's going to take reinvestment in people. County resources need to be more invested and coordinated in reinvesting in the people of our community. So upward social mobility, when you say the words social equity, that is an alarm for upward social mobility. The more opportunities people have to realize the American dream; the more social equity will be attained." 


Host Gabriel Tehran asked the candidates what they can do as a supervisor that they can't do on the Oxnard City Council.


Flynn said he would influence all 10 cities in Ventura County when it comes to providing hire-paying jobs.


"I've been able to provide for higher-paying jobs, and we are going to have an announcement that I was involved with in bringing higher-paying jobs to the City of Oxnard," he said.  "I want to do that for all of Ventura County. It's the Assist program in the County of Ventura that specifically targets those individuals who suffer from mental illness. Especially the homeless who suffer from mental illness. I want to expand the Assist program, get those people off the streets, get them the mental health services they need. That is not in the jurisdiction of the Oxnard city government. As an aspiring county supervisor, I want to make the Assist program; it's an experimental program for six of the 58 counties in California; I want the Assist program to be the most successful program anywhere in the State of California and the United States of America."


Ramirez said just like on the council, you are one of five people, and you can't do anything by yourself.


"One of the things that I would do that I asked for in Oxnard is ask that we have a preference for local companies in procurement, and those companies hire local residents," she said. "We don't have that at the county, and I'm shocked. APCD (Air pollution Control District) is building a new facility, they bought a building, and I said, do we not have a preference for local contractors? No. I will change that and do what we did in Oxnard. It's not a huge percentage, but it makes a difference. Let's keep our tax dollars here in the county and here in the district and not let it go elsewhere."


She also wants to look at the big picture, including water, air, and traffic.


"We all need to share in this and not say it's Oxnard's problem with the homeless," she said. "Send them all to Oxnard. We all have to share the responsibility. Someone told me that an unnamed city thought they had no problem with the homeless. Well, yes, you do.  Who's cleaning your homes, who's doing your landscaping, and who's producing the food? We all have to share in those problems. The county has influence over that."


This story will continue on Oct 16.