Thursday, September 20, 2012
By Tiobe Barron
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series that examines several 2012 election races in and around the Ojai Valley. The first appeared in the Sept. 14 issue.
In November, Ojai’s Mayor, Betsy Clapp, will face two challengers — State Farm agent Bob Daddi and local business owner Severo Lara — in the race for two open positions on the Ojai City Council. Councilmember Sue Horgan, the only other Councilmember whose terms is up, opted not to run for reelection this year.
The Ojai City Council consists of five members whose job it is to create the ordinances and resolutions that govern those within the city of Ojai. They also adopt the city budget, apportion spending among the city’s departments, appoint the city manager and the city attorney and elect amongst themselves the Mayor and Mayor pro tem of Ojai.
Clapp has lived in Ojai for 22 years, before which she lived with her husband and daughter on a boat in the Ventura Harbor. Clapp says she loves Ojai because it reminds her of the small town in which she was raised.
“Ojai is a treasure and it needs to be protected,” said Clapp.
Clapp owns and operates two small businesses: Java Frost, a gourmet beverage distribution company; and Buenaventura Blending Company, a private labeling and manufacturing company. Clapp says her experience as a small-business owner equips her with the skills to get things done in government.
“I am action-oriented, and have follow-though,” explained Clapp. “If you don’t get things done in a small business, the business dies.”
Clapp said her main goals, if elected, would be to support the efforts of Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water (F.L.O.W.), to help reorganize the Ojai Recreation Department and to improve code enforcement in the city.
“There is the sentiment among Ojai citizens that it (code enforcement) is not working,” Clapp noted. “Right now it is complaint-driven, which is pitting neighbor against neighbor, which is not a good thing!”
Clapp wants to work with Ventura County agencies to establish a county recreation district; something she believes will greatly improve the caliber of programs available to youth in the valley.
Along with these goals, emergency preparedness is also a priority; Clapp aims to complete Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training after the election. She said she also believes community outreach should be a top priority for local government officials.
“We need to be open and welcoming to the community,” said Clapp. “After all, it is the citizens’ city.”
Daddi has lived in Ojai since 1997, when he built his home here. While he said he takes no issue with any member of the current City Council, he believes, as a collective group, the current council has “failed to take care of some issues … I want to restore Ojai to the vibrant place it used to be 15 to 20 years ago,” Daddi said. “It used to be magic.”
Daddi’s main concerns are the issue of the water franchise in Ojai — he’s one of the founders of Ojai FLOW and is on its steering committee — as well as road repair, code enforcement and what he sees as a lack of transparency and consistency in the Community Development Department.
“People should vote for me because I am informed on the (pertinent) subjects,” explained Daddi. “I won’t tolerate sloppy work from the city, I won’t tolerate incorrect and inconsistent city work. I won’t tolerate the fact that we can’t refund an over-charge because of a time limit. I won’t tolerate different (discriminatory) treatment.”
Daddi said he was driven to run in this election due to “the fact that we weren’t getting to where we needed to be; we kept kicking the issue down the street … a different kind of candidate is needed to break this gridlock.”
If elected, Daddi said he will bring a more fair and equitable policy to the table, with an emphasis on health and safety.
“If I am elected, I will force the city to deal with the 500 non-permitted, occupied residential units. We can’t displace 500 families and have not established a policy a Health and Safety exemption permit,” Daddi insists.
Lara was born in Ventura County Memorial Hospital, and has lived in Ojai his whole life. He is a youth founder of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation and is a building contractor. He has experience working in municipal government as a member of the Ojai Recreation Commission.
“I grew up in this valley, so I truly understand its values and principles,” said Lara. “The principles the valley holds, I hold.”
If elected, Lara’s top priority would be the quality of life for families in the valley, beginning with programs for youth, and making permits affordable so young families can live here.
“One of the areas we have been putting off for years is the Parks and Recreation Department,” Lara says. “It’s not the city’s fault, but the times have changed. I want to re-establish the integrity of the department. That would be great.”
Lara, who has two daughters, ages 3 and 6, said he wants to be involved so his kids can have the same opportunities he had growing up.
“I’ve always been involved. I really care about what happens here,” says Lara. “I bring a perspective that has been here (in Ojai), and it is important to have that on Council.”
Visit www.ci.ojai.ca.us for more information on the upcoming election.