City Council race: seven candidates
could be record if all file

August 01, 2014
Santa Paula News

If all those that pulled nomination papers file for the November 4 City Council race it could have the largest field of candidates ever.

Seven individuals have pulled nomination papers including Planning Commissioner John Demers and two-term incumbent City Councilman Bob Gonzales.

The two join Jenny Crosswhite, former Mayor John Procter (who in 2008 declined to run for a third term), former Mayor Fred Robinson (defeated in his bid for reelection in 2012), Ginger Gherardi and incumbent Ralph Fernandez in pulling nomination papers.

The papers must be returned to the city and County Elections Division by the August 8, 5 p.m. deadline. The deadline will be extended five days, to August 13, if incumbent - and present Mayor Rick Cook - foregoes running for reelection.

Gonzales, the city’s former police chief, said he is seeking his third council term as, “Just a continuation of what I do, I want to continue to serve the community.”

Issues he considers important are, “everything... there’s a whole lot of issues, some we’ve been working on long-term. Number one is to get East Area 1 going,” the 1,500 residential Limoneira Co. spearheaded development east of the city.

Gonzales said he always, “Wants to see what happens with Fagan Canyon development and see if we can’t buy back the wastewater treatment plant.” 

The privately owned enterprise has been the focus of controversy since approved by a narrow council majority in 2008; Santa Paulans now pay one of the highest bills in the county for sewer service.

Gonzales said he also wants to “continue to grow the city from an economic perspective... we’ve been through the recession and I think we’re on our way back from that.

“We just have to be judicious of what we do and how we do it... “

Gonzales, a city native, said he is not surprised so many potential candidates stepped forward: “I think it’s neat that people want to get involved and be a part of making Santa Paula move forward... the same five people year in and year out I think causes problems. Bringing new people in or new ideas to the forefront is good for the community as a whole.”

Since June 2013 Demers has been Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Hueneme Oxnard Harbor District.

He was appointed to the Santa Paula Planning Commission in October 2013 over the objection of Fernandez who wanted architect Marilyn Appleby to retain her seat on the panel.

Demers said he is running for council “For pretty much the same reasons I joined the Planning Commission... I think there are a lot of things I can bring to the council.”

A retired officer in the Navy for 20 years, Demers said he was involved 

“A huge amount of work,” that required a deep understanding of business and development.

Demers noted, “I’m not being critical of anyone on the council but I just think we can do more, there is much more Santa Paula can do and I have the skills to do those things.”

He believes economic development must be a priority: “I think that’s the biggest one on a lot of folks’ minds, jobs, the economy and preserving what we have while trying to move forward, bringing and keeping good jobs for the residents of Santa Paula.”

A native of Massachusetts, Demers and his family have lived in Santa Paula for about 12 years. 

Said Demers, “I just recently retired from the military and I’m now here permanently and can commit myself to being involved and staying involved in Santa Paula,” a place that has “That true small town vibe, a really nice place to live. 

“Some things we can do with a fresh approach and make it even nicer,” without changing what makes Santa Paula the place it is.

City Council service pays a $300 monthly stipend plus a $1,000-plus monthly payment that can be applied to the city’s cafeteria health insurance plans or pocketed. The Council also receives an annual expense account of $2,000-plus for city-related business.

For more information about filing for the Santa Paula City Council race, call Deputy City Clerk Lucy Blanco at 805-933-4208.

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