By Chris Frost
Oxnard--The Ventura County District Five Supervisor race interviews continue with Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn, who is looking to take the next step and fill the shoes filled by his father, former Supervisor John Flynn.
Flynn is running against Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez, Independent Jeff Burum, Oxnard School District Trustee Veronica Robles-Solis and Port of Hueneme Commissioner Jess Herrera.
Flynn pulled no punches when he spoke about the CRC money, which candidates Ramirez and District Three Candidate Kim Marra Stephenson allege is being used to foil their efforts.
Flynn said the CRC is like many other organizations in Ventura County and has a special interest group and has an independent expenditure committee.
"No special interest group and independent expenditure committee can try to influence the candidate," he said. "If a candidate tries to coordinate with an independent expenditure committee, they can be fined or jailed for it. Anytime any special interest weighs in on a race in a big way financially, it's going to cause people to question their motives and what they are trying to do."
Flynn said his environmental record is consistent with some of the same people being targeted.
"These independent expenditure committees choose candidates on what they think is their best interests," Flynn said. "I've always staked out usually moderate or pragmatic positions on many issues, and in some cases, I don't. In most cases, I do. That's probably what's motivating them to select certain people in this race."
He wants to stay focused on the issues but said the issue with money from the CRC needs to be addressed.
"Oil is a vital part of our economy; it's a vital part of Ventura County's economy," he said. "I'm an advocate for a transition plan here in the county towards the direction of alternative energy. That's part of the city plan and part of the county plan. I've heard about people calling for maybe the phasing out of oil and natural gas production in Ventura County."
If they phase out oil and natural gas production, he said the county must be sure they're not displacing workers.
"I have a brother-in-law who was in the industry (oil) for about 35 years," he said. "My job (his brother in law said) is to keep the lights on until we figure it out. It is our job to figure it out. What is that transition?"
Helping the homeless
Flynn thinks that Ventura County does a good job working with cities to help with the homeless crisis.
"The county is distributing money and partnering with cities to provide shelters," he said. "The real problem isn't whether the county government is doing a good job, or not; it's the State of California and how it is distributing the money. There is a need that is five, six, or seven times what the local communities can provide."
If the city does build the new Oxnard Navigation Center, he said it would only house about one-seventh of the total homeless population in Oxnard.
"We don't have a way to transition people out of a shelter that is fast," he said. "Only a couple of people a month are being transitioned into permanent housing."
Ventura County has a greater need for financial support at the state level, he said, and the funding should be proportionate to the population or the magnitude of the problem a city faces.
"If you take the total amount of money available and then the amount of homeless and divide it, based on these annual homeless counts, you should get money based on the problem you're facing," he said. "I don't think that any city has the capacity to deal with this. It's obvious in Los Angeles, even though they passed a special parcel tax to deal with this issue."
The logistics of the problem, he said, make it "literally impossible" to do something.
"I think this governor will face the greatest challenge of any governor in the country," he said. "He needs to go back to Washington D.C., meet with this president and say the problem that I face and the people I'm serving face is so much greater than the resources and logistical support that I have as a governor, that I need federal help."
One location he suggested is Camp Roberts on the 101 freeway, which prepared millions of men to go overseas during World War ll.
"Even though it's not up and ready for that kind of operation, that can be the kind of facility that people can and should be taken to give mental health intervention, drug, and alcohol intervention. For those people who are veterans, they can receive proper counselling and support until permanent housing can be formed. That's what I advocate. It's not going to be asking for money. Even if this city got all the money it needed, sure, they can build tents on city-owned land and begin to bring people into these shelters. Logistically it's overwhelming, and I think it's going to take a federal and state response to meet the needs of the community."
The need for people who can provide services for the homeless population is severe, he said, and the county needs social workers and mental health professionals.
"There are so many highly qualified people who can provide these services," he said. "Rather than redirect resources away from this or that, every government is stretched thin to be able to do this. I have people come up to me all the time when I'm going door-to-door, and many of them are social workers and are involved in mental health work. They say they want to help, and they want to be able to volunteer. Here in Oxnard, we have one of the most restrictive risk-management policies because we're afraid that someone is going to get injured, and then turn around and sue the city."
Flynn said there are two homeless categories, chronic and non-chronic.
"I think faith-based communities are especially well-equipped to help the non-chronically homeless," he said. "The chronically homeless, which falls into the mental health, drug and alcohol addiction or people with disabilities, those are areas that no one volunteer organization is able to help."
One reality Flynn wants to remind people of is that the price of living in a coastal community is double from the cost of living in an inland area.
"I don't believe that supply can ever keep up with the demand for housing in coastal communities," he said. "There's a finite amount of space, and we're looking right now to take over the Social Security building, take that down, and then start building up with apartments that are going to be six and seven stories high. I'm a strong advocate of that because we have restrictive boundaries around the city. If we are looking to attract an employer to Ventura County or Oxnard, in particular, we have Sakioka Farms, which has been a main focus of mine.
He advocates building housing around a corporate headquarters if they can attract a company to a location like Del Norte, which has 300-400 acres.
"Not all parts of the county have that space available," he said.
This story will continue on Feb. 21.
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