Oct. 18, 2012
Hannah Guzik, OVN correspondent
Two California legislators are vying for the 26th Congressional District seat this November. Sen. Tony Strickland, a Republican, is squaring off against Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, a Democrat, in the U.S. House of Representatives race. Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly currently represents Ojai in the 24th Congressional District, but will not seek reelection. Redistricting will put Ojai in the 26th Congressional District, which encompasses Westlake Village and all of Ventura County except Simi Valley. Strickland, who lives in Moorpark, grew up in Simi Valley and spent many years in Thousand Oaks, he said. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1998 and served for six years. He is now in his first term in the California Senate. Strickland said he decided to run for Congress because he wanted to change the way policies made in Washington are affecting people in Ventura County. “I think the country’s on the wrong track economically and from the perspective of international policy,” he said. “I want to reach across the aisle in bipartisan way, and I have a proven track record of voting Independent.” If elected, Strickland said he would first try to stop large-scale defense cuts being proposed in Washington that would hit locally. “Naval Base Ventura County is the county’s largest employer and the cuts would have a tremendous effect on the county and a ripple effect in the larger economy,” he said. Secondly, Strickland would attempt to get federal backing for renewable energy technology in Ventura County, he said. “The challenge of our time is make sure we’re energy independent,” he said. “I want to be able to have more people start up renewable technologies to, hopefully, foster economic growth.” Strickland said he is also running on a platform of job creation and revitalizing the economy, and he would make progress on those fronts by voting independently. “When I talk to folks in Ojai, they say they like someone who is from the county and who also has a proven track record of working across the aisle,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s a Republican idea or Democrat idea, I just care if it’s a good idea.” Brownley, meanwhile, said she is running on a job creation platform, as well as protecting the environment and education. “One of the main reasons I am running for Congress, and one of the most important issues for Ventura County, is the economy,” she said. “We need to get folks back to work. We’re in economic recovery but we still have a ways to go.” Brownley lives in Oak Park and has served in the California Assembly since 2006. She grew up in Virginia and worked in politics in Washington, D.C. before moving to Oak Park in 1983. During her time in the Assembly, Brownley has been very involved in education issues, sitting on all the Assembly’s education committees, she said. “I think California is sorely underfunded for education and, going to Congress, I certainly would like to make education much more of a national priority and fulfill the commitments and promises from a federal level in terms of resources,” she said. Brownley said if elected, she would also try to protect Medicare and Social Security and would continue work to preserve the environment in Ventura County. “Protecting our environment and open space is very important to people in Ojai, as it is to me,” she said. “I have a long track record of protecting shore lines and open spaces. I feel quite confident that my values and the values of the folks in Ojai are very similar and are about the very same issues,” she said. “Ojai is a very special place in Ventura County.” Both candidates have held events in Ojai in recent weeks and plan to campaign in the city again before the election, they said. The election will be held Nov. 6. For more information on Brownley, see www.juliabrownley.com and visit www.tonystrickland.com for more on Strickland.