Pictured (left to right) are Bob Gonzales, Ralph Fernandez and Gabino Aguirre.

Results still up in the air: Council candidates talk about Election

November 10, 2006
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesResults are still up in the air for at least one City Council seat and the final count won’t be available until next week, according to Ventura County Elections Division, which could have about 1,400 absentee and provisional ballots affecting Santa Paula yet to be tabulated.There’s not much doubt that the city’s former police chief, Bob Gonzales, will take a seat in December.“I’m really excited about the turnout, the way it turned out my way,” said Gonzales, who with 2,246, or 24.68 percent, was the frontrunner in the highly contested race.“It’s a really good feeling that people would cast a vote to support me.”Gonzales said Wednesday that his first Council priority would be to “make sure that all members can agree to work together, not just for the good of the Council but as a message to the community to work as a whole, that no one has an agenda, one group or the other...that has to be done to end the divisiveness over development.”Gonzales also pledged to ‘”Not just hear what people say but to listen to what they say...I don’t have all the answers to the questions but will listen to the people.”“I’ll be glad when the numbers are final,” said Ralph Fernandez, who placed second with 1,561, or 17.15 percent of the vote.Fernandez, an architect and college instructor, said his first priority would be to “Evaluate where we are as a group, get educated on what is happening, where we are and what we can accomplish. It’s a tremendous opportunity...I’m really excited about it.”Win or lose, Fernandez said Wednesday, “...hats off to all my supporters, I am very thankful to them,” and the hard campaigning on his behalf.Pending final ballot results, “I think I’m in good shape but you never know. But I’m really looking forward,” to tackling issues such as the wastewater treatment plant and development, “prioritize what needs to be done first...”Dr. Gabino Aguirre, who is seeking his second Council term, placed third with 1, 257, or 13.81 percent.“Right now, I’m not sure where I stand, but I want to think because of the proportion of the votes everyone will gain” when the final tabulations are released “but that I will still be that third person. Right behind me is Rick Cook,” the two-term incumbent who garnered 1,132, or 12.44 percent, in fourth place by just 125 votes, said Aguirre, a high school principal.“If Rick edges me out, well, it’s a democratic election. But I expect to remain and work with the other elected officials on challenges that are coming up fast for the city. I am expecting that the election will hold as it stands” and considering that the initial release of absentee ballots showed Aguirre far behind, “I might even get more votes than anyone else,” he chuckled.
Cook said Wednesday that he wished that voters - as well as candidates - would receive the complete ballot results sooner.“Is there still a chance I could make the cut? If there’s 1,400 ballots out there, well it’s not over till it’s over, but I’m approaching it as if it my last Council meetings,” are rapidly approaching.But, added Cook, a retired SPPD Sgt. and VC Public Defender’s Office investigator, “I still think there’s a chance for all of us...hopefully, the Council can work together whoever it is. There are a lot of issues there,” that must be addressed.Election results must be certified by November 30th: “They have to have it done and with more than 70,000 countywide ballots to be counted that’s a bunch. But,” Cook added, “if the results don’t change a bit I wish all those elected the best of luck.”First term incumbent Mary Ann Krause, had 1,094 votes, or 12.02 percent of the total, only 38 votes behind Cook.Krause, a retired urban and regional planner, was attending five meetings related to city business Thursday and was unavailable for comment by press deadline.There are only 37 votes separating Krause and Fred Robinson, the executive director of ARC Ventura County, who garnered 1,057 votes, or 11.62 percent.“I thank everybody in Santa Paula,” Robinson said Wednesday. “It was a good election...I’m comfortable that the outcome will be fair and reasonable and I’ll live with it. I believe in the democratic process.”Robinson acknowledged that his support in his first Council attempt “Would be a good base to build on,” and he would not definitely rule out a future Council race depending on the issues.“...my hope is with Bobby and Ralph there we’ll get some of the divisiveness behind us,” and move on towards “sensible growth.”Sergio Hernandez (396, or 4.35 percent) and Damien Shilo (341, 3.75 percent) rounded off the unusually large field of Council candidates.

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