Candidates and the Simi Valley Chamber

When I was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, I appreciated hearing from the Candidates both for School Board and for Simi Valley City Council. Some candidates joined the Chamber and attended their monthly events, including the popular Friday morning breakfast events. I got a sense that these Candidates cared about local business and it was a good opportunity as a business owner to get to know them on a deeper level. During my time as a Chamber of Commerce member, I had the opportunity to meet several City Council Members, School Board Trustees and Candidates for State Assembly. One year, I assisted with the moderation of a candidates forum, holding up a yellow sign to indicate to the candidate that only 30 seconds remained in their time limit, and a red sign to indicate their time was up. It was a tough job, but I pulled it off… barely.

I think all candidates, particularly City Council candidates, should consider a membership with the Chamber of Commerce to reach out to the business community. I’m not certain if this is still the case, but several years ago there was a special rate for candidates running for office. At the very least, participating in the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum is an absolute must in my opinion.

Shannon’s Simi Chamber Presentation

For a more pleasant City Hall video, see the one below. This video is of Tim Shannon’s presentation to the City Council on the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce’s mission. This presentation was inspired by questions raised regarding the renewal of a contract between the Chamber and the City of Simi Valley. In addition to being a Candidate for Simi Valley City Council, Tim Shannon is also a long time member, Board Member and Past President of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum

The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce puts on a candidates forum every election. Last election, there were fewer of these to choose from and the one put on by the Chamber of Commerce meant a great deal to me. It came with a cost which was disappointing, but it’s understandable. The venue is the Grand Vista Hotel and lunch is served to all in attendance… of course, that comes with a cost, but at $25 per person and the opportunity to learn more about our local candidates, it’s not a bad deal.

What follows is an uncut video of the Candidates Forum put on by the Simi Valley Chamber. It’s about two hours long and since it’s completely unedited, it’s a sizable download. Put up your feet and make sure your broadband connection is as speedy as possible before you hit the play button!

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No Coverage of State of City Address

One event that I look forward to regularly is the State of the City Address sponsored by the Simi Valley Chamber, presented by Mayor Paul Miller. In better economic times, I recall being very moved and excited about the months to come. While the economic climate has shifted and the city recently adjusted for a $3 million budget reduction, I’m just as eager to hear what’s going on. Considering my recent “interactive” nature, I’d like very much to bring my camera and microphone to share the event with the people who subscribe to my content. But it’s not going to happen. Here’s the scoop:

The Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce will once again host the Mayor’s State of the City Address. The Annual State of the City Address will be presented to the Chamber membership on Friday, February 20 at 11:30 a.m. at the Grand Vista Hotel. The Mayor’s address will provide an overview of City Departments and City Projects. “We appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to present the State of the City and to share in detail how our City is doing. We are all facing challenging times and this event will allow the City Council to provide information and to gain input from our businesses and residents to ensure that we are doing our best job to meet the challenges on behalf of the community,” said Mayor Paul Miller.

There are lots of people who are interested in what goes on here and want to witness it for themselves.  These events cater to elite members of the community, business owners and members of the Chamber of Commerce, so the average Simi Valley citizen cannot attend this middle-of-the-day event.  I think it’s important to see and hear these things for yourself, to be present for tone of voice and hear quotes in context.  But most people most directly impacted by the state of city affairs, the citizens, will be hard at work at their day jobs.

Sponsorship opportunities are available at the following levels: Table Sponsors – $600 for a table of eight or $350 for a table of four. Sponsors will receive preferred seating, table placard, acknowledgement in the Chamber’s Mid Month Mailer and the event program. Tickets are $40 for members and $55 for non-members.

As a business owner and member of the Chamber of Commerce, I’ll invest the $40 to learn more about where things stand with the City of Simi Valley.  However, I’ve tried to bring my camera and microphone to Chamber sponsored events, and it’s a no-go, so unfortunately, most of the rest of us will have to read about it in the newspaper.  If you plan on being there as well, please let me know and perhaps we can meet up afterward to discuss.

Simi Business – Room for Change

This month, the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce will honor its selected Business and Business Person of the Year for 2008.  The honorees are chosen and like most years, the names and businesses are names and businesses you know.  I always hope that each year I’ll read the names of someone I’ve never heard of before whose business or business activites were the diamond in the rough, the quiet hero of the business community.  But it’s never so…

That’s not to say the people the Chamber selects each year aren’t deserving.  They definitely are.  These business people are well known in the community because of their honorable contributions.  However, there are so many more business people and businesses that are members of the Chamber who contribute to the community significantly.  Unfortunately, if they’re not the type to be comfortable in a setting where there’s a lot of handshaking and passing of business cards, their contributions can easily go unnoticed.

For more than 25 years, there was a Simi Valley business owner who contributed significantly to the youth of our city.  His business taught kids physical, athletic skills regardless of whether or not they were naturally gifted athletes.  Many of these student athletes became employees, teaching the next generation what they learned as kids.  Simi Valley kids were taught they could achieve what they thought was impossible, in a nurturing, family-oriented environment.  This business taught without discrimination, including even kids with disabilities, proving to everyone that even kids with special needs could thrive.  This business was a member of the Chamber of Commerce since its opening day, but was never recognized.

This is the story I tell people when they ask me what I’m trying to accomplish with my various websites and online videos.  There’s a lot going on in Simi Valley and the more we all know, the tighter a community we will be.

Can They Get Their Name Out?

Now that the incumbents have secured their positions on the Simi Valley City Council, how will the challengers strengthen their positions the next time they run?  Bruce Witkin, challenger for Mayor (who received my support and my vote this election) took on the challenging and seemingly impossible task of taking on the super popular and heavily supported Paul Miller.  Mike Judge took on Barbra Williamson and Steve Sojka, long time council members with lots of support and lots of campaign dollars.  So how does a challenger build up their reputation in the community to earn that same level of support?

Richard Paul Carter opted NOT to print and post campaign signs citing his desire to prevent cluttering the Simi Valley landscape.  Gerald Smith (challenger for council) and Ed Lang (challenger for Mayor) didn’t have signs, no reason stated that I could find.  Mike Judge and Bruce Witkin, on the other hand, did have signs printed, and they were also nearer to victory than their other challengers.  Signs and ads help, but clearly it’s not enough to oust popular incumbents.

Business owners who are running for office should join the Chamber of Commerce.  It may seem like a conforming move, but it’s a move that is effective.  Before I joined the Chamber (and after, for that matter) it was described to me as a good ol’ boys club, where the elite members enjoy attention, rewards and honors, and lots of referrals from influential figures, while the new members have to claw their way to the top, proving themselves as worthy.  My advice would be to disregard those warnings and join.  The Chamber consists of your peers in business.  The same things that concern you concern them as well.  There are hundreds of newer or non-elite members, more so than the elite top-dogs, and they are registered voters.  And don’t join when your campaign starts.  Join now!

As a candidate, you obviously have a passion for your community.  Prove it now, to yourself and to voters, and join the Rotary Club.  The Rotary Clubs in Simi Valley are responsible for many high profile annual events that raise a significant amount of money for charitable organizations.  Be ready, because joining the Rotary Club requires true dedication.  I was a member of a Simi Valley Rotary Club for nearly a year, but dropped out of the club when my divorce kicked into high gear.  If you have a high demand career or personal issues that will prevent you from participating right away, then take it slowly and strategize before you join.  But without a doubt, Rotary is a rewarding organization in which to participate… you’ll feel good about your efforts, and so will those who support you and vote for you.

I’m curious to know how folks like Mike Judge and Bruce Witkin plan to spend the next few years before they run again.  I’m hoping to catch up to both of them soon to find out.  When I do, I’ll post that info here.