Mayor, councilwoman reconsider decisions not to run
By Nao Braverman
With less than a week until the nomination period opens for Ojai City Council member seats, two councilwomen are reconsidering their previous decisions not to run for re-election.
In December 2007 at the council members’ reorgani-zation, Mayor Sue Horgan announced that she wanted to take time to focus on her children and her personal life. Shortly after, in mid-April, long-term Councilwoman Rae Hanstad also announced her plans to depart the council at the end of her second term.
Hanstad, coordinator of the county’s methamphetamine task force, said she wanted to focus on her career and family and step out of public life. With the city in fair shape, it seemed a good time to exit, she had said in April.
But some local citizens disagreed and told her so.
“Several members of the community have asked me to reconsider,” said Hanstad. “I have been meeting with them and I am re-evaluating my position.”
Horgan, seeing the city has not progressed as far as expected on some key projects, is also reconsidering her decision not to run again.
“It has come to my attention that we are not quite as far along with some projects as I had hoped we would be,” she said. “I don’t want to make it sound like I think I can do them myself, I can’t, but I think I have an impact. And I want to make sure the city is moving in the direction that we have set.”
Some of the projects she is referring to are the state-mandated housing plan, which requires the city to make a plan that accommodates hundreds of new affordable housing units. That plan has been met with controversy, and despite many long discussions on the subject, council members are still far from a concrete housing element that can be sent to the state department of housing and community development for approval.
Another important item left unfinished, according to Horgan, is the long-awaited Ojai Skate Park. Although more than the goal of $350,000 has been collected, a long-term lease on the proposed location on school district property has yet to be secured.
While the city is financially in good shape, and close to replenishing its reserves, council members have not yet set spending priorities for when the city does have money to spare, she said.
Horgan also mentioned her recent meetings with Hanstad and members of the Chamber of Commerce. The select group has been working on a plan to rejuvenate the local economy, but has just begun gathering information.
With so much still unfinished, Horgan is unsure whether she should leave the council as soon as she had planned.
But neither Horgan nor Hanstad have made a final decision just yet.
Whether they decide to run or not, both seats are up for election, along with the position of city clerk and city treasurer.
Despite the welcome offered by Hanstad and other locals, retired Ventura County Chief Executive Johnny Johnston said he had no plans to run for council. And County Fire Chief Bob Roper said he had made no decision at this time.
Candidates can pick up their nomination papers starting Monday, and have until Aug. 8 to turn them in, unless an incumbent decides not to file for re-election, in which case the filing deadline is extended to Aug. 15.
By that deadline each candidate hopeful has to obtain at least 20 signatures of sponsoring voters who are registered in the city in order to qualify for candidacy.
Elected council members receive a monthly stipend of $475 per month and $30 per meeting for serving on the Redevelopment Commission as well as health, vision and dental insurance.
City Clerk Carlon Strobel has been elected to her position for two terms in a row, and will be up for re-election on Nov. 4. as will City Treasurer Alan Rains. Interested citizens can pick up papers at City Hall on 401 S. Ventura St., starting Monday.