Ventura County has put an end to the Flynn era, elected business-friendly candidates in Thousand Oaks, Port Hueneme and elsewhere and even passed some much needed tax measures to fund future growth.
Santa Barbara County has passed an essential transportation measure, Measure A and in Santa Maria one of the most effective mayors in the region, Larry Lavagnino, won re-election.
The City of San Luis Obispo, too has re-elected a popular and effective mayor, Dave Romero.
While pro-growth advocates on the South Coast are bemoaning the return of a “Noleta” city council and the election of Doreen Farr to a swing seat on the county board of supervisors, Election 2008 clearly was not all bad news for business.
Most important, it marks a political coming of age for Ventura County, which is showing signs of emerging as an economic powerhouse for the region.
John Zaragoza’s victory over John Flynn for county supervisor, Oxnard Mayor Tom Holden’s defeat of Supervisor Flynn’s son, Tim, and the defeat of the Flynn-supported Measure V traffic initiative mark a real turning of the page in Ventura County political history.
Now would be the time for Ventura County’s business leadership to forge a bigger coalition and go to work on a new initiative – modeled on Santa Barbara’s Measure A to fund transportation improvements that will take the region’s largest area into the 21st century.
Passage of Measure A proves that such coalitions can be built and with Rep. Lois Capps entering her seventh term in the Congress, Ventura County would have a powerful ally in Washington to leverage local spending with federal dollars.
Moreover the administration of President-elect Barack Obama has sent strong signals that it would like to provide funding for infrastructure improvements as part of an economic stimulus package. Any immediate stimulus is guaranteed to be modest given the enormous federal budget deficits.
But there will be much bigger opportunities down the road and Ventura County – as well as Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo – should be in position to fight hard for their fair share.