Eric Halub’s Campaign Goes Online

Eric Halub, candidate for Simi Valley City Council, has taken his campaign online and announced the launch of his website at the City Council meeting tonight during the public statements period of the meeting.

To learn more about Eric Halub and has campaign for City Council, you can go to his website located at erichalub.webs.com. You can also find Eric’s Facebook page and “like” it to follow his news and updates there by clicking here.

Below is a video of one of Eric Halub’s most memorable City Council visits from 2010:

Tim Shannon for City Council

Tim Shannon has pulled papers to run for Simi Valley City Council.  For me, this is a really exciting possibility.  According to the Simi Valley rumor mill, which isn’t always credible, the expectation was that one way or another, Tim Shannon would eventually find his way on to the City Council. His reputation in the community is strong enough to support a victorious election in my opinion, but the rumor mill suggested that if Steve Sojka were elected Mayor in the last election, Tim Shannon might have been selected to fill his seat by appointment.  Of course, that’s a rumor, but one I heard enough times to consider somewhat credible.

Tim Shannon is a well known figure in Simi Valley.  In addition to being an independent business owner and former Simi Valley Planning Commissioner, he’s a long time member of the morning Rotary Club and active participant in many of their charitable events.  He is a member of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.  He is serving or has served on the following Simi Valley organizations: Simi Valley Police Foundation, Simi Valley Community Foundation and the Simi Valley Boys & Girls Club.

The community was polarized regarding the Sojka vs. Huber mayoral election. But the one thing that individuals on both sides agreed on was that Tim Shannon is devoted to the best interests of Simi Valley and would serve the city well if given the opportunity. I personally hope he follows through and decides to officially run for City Council.

Ken Sandberg for Simi Valley City Council

Ken Sandberg is running for Simi Valley City Council. I saw his letter to the Acorn this morning and was surprised that I hadn’t yet spoken to him. I have spoken briefly to all candidates for City Council, including those who dropped out, with the exception of Ken.

On July 28th, I sent an email to the challenging City Council Candidates requesting their presence in a live discussion forum to be streamed live on the internet. I followed-up with two articles on this blog wondering why they weren’t responding. Ken takes exception to my claim that I contacted all candidates because I clearly did not contact him. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of his candidacy at that time. He expressed his dismay via email. To Ken, I offer my humblest apologies.

Ken has agreed to participate in the upcoming live discussion forum with City Council Candidates. I’ll be posting the details, date and time soon. My sincere thanks to Ken Sandberg for agreeing to participate.

What follows is Ken’s ballot statement. I encourage you to read it and stop by Ken’s website to get details on the issues that have inspired Ken to announce his candidacy. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from Ken in the weeks to come.

I have been a resident of Simi Valley since 1997 and have taken the Simi Valley Police Citizen’s Academy and CERT classes.  I am a HAM Radio Volunteer examiner, Sierra Club Cross-Country leader and map & compass navigation instructor, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and a volunteer at events needing emergency communications.

While in the CERT class, I volunteered to notify residents of possible evacuation in the 2005 fire. I saw the need for better emergency preparations, both for residents and the city.  We need a real volunteer CERT program, like other cities have, with monthly training meetings and maintaining a list of active members.

I have taken the time to speak at Neighborhood Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings and City Council meetings in order to try to get the right thing done.  I am running for City Council to try to improve our community by doing the right thing and serving the whole community, not for personal and special interests.

I believe it is important to remember that every penny the city spends comes from hard working residents of Simi Valley.

I am not accepting campaign contributions to not be beholden to anyone other than the community. More information is available at http://www.my1email.com/ken4sv/

I have been a resident of Simi Valley since 1997 and have taken the Simi Valley Police Citizen’s Academy and CERT classes.  I am a HAM Radio Volunteer examiner, Sierra Club Cross-Country leader and map & compass navigation instructor, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and a volunteer at events needing emergency communications.

While in the CERT class, I volunteered to notify residents of possible evacuation in the 2005 fire. I saw the need for better emergency preparations, both for residents and the city.  We need a real volunteer CERT program, like other cities have, with monthly training meetings and maintaining a list of active members.

I have taken the time to speak at Neighborhood Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings and City Council meetings in order to try to get the right thing done.  I am running for City Council to try to improve our community by doing the right thing and serving the whole community, not for personal and special interests.

I believe it is important to remember that every penny the city spends comes from hard working residents of Simi Valley.

I am not accepting campaign contributions to not be beholden to anyone other than the community. More information is available at http://www.my1email.com/ken4sv/

Political Appointments in Simi Valley Should End

Both Michelle Foster and Steve Sojka were appointed to the Simi Valley City Council to fill empty seats outside of an election cycle. I have nothing against Michelle Foster or Steve Sojka and believe both have served the community well. However, I would like to bring an abrupt end to the political appointment process and put the selection of ALL City Council members back in the hands of voters.

Two years ago, I made reference to a special election in Moorpark that took place to fill an empty City Council seat.  The seat was vacant after a sitting Councilmember, Janice Parvin, was elected Mayor of Moorpark. The process involved appointing an interim Councilmember to fill the vacant seat until the election could be organized and executed, resulting in a new permanent Councilmember elected by Moorpark voters. Without a doubt in my mind, I firmly believe this is how it should be handled in Simi Valley.

If you consider the upcoming ballot for Simi Valley voters, it’s hard to say at this point whether or not there will be a vacant seat on the City Council. Though both campaigns for Mayor are in full swing, I have yet to identify a front-runner. I suspect that as both candidates begin to focus more on the issues, we’ll see voter reactions and get a clearer picture. Suppose, however, that Councilmember Sojka is victorious in his bid for Mayor. The current procedure would be for the Council to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, and Simi Valley voters won’t have a say.

I plan to follow-up with the City to find out what we need to do to put these choices back in the hands of Simi Valley voters. I personally feel like I would be a shameless hypocrite if I didn’t put forth some effort to change that policy. The purpose of this website is to celebrate free speech and democracy, after all! And while you may trust the judgment of the City Council, I’m pretty comfortable with my own judgment as well.

I am curious to know who supports this idea, so please leave some comments so we can discuss.

Pension Reform Settled, POA Still Pending

You’ve probably already heard the news. The City of Simi Valley has settled negotiations on pension reform for City employees after several weeks of talks with the Service Employees International Union that represents all city employees (not including police officers).

City Councilmembers acknowledged that the city employees are making sacrafices and are grateful for that in these rough economical times. Councilman Steve Sojka was quoted in the Simi Valley Acorn acknowledging that city employees are effectively taking a cut in an effort to help the city keep its head above water during hard times.  The Acorn article elaborates on the deal:

That help included the SEIU’s making significant concessions concerning employee retirement plans. Under the terms of the new agreement, current employees will contribute 3.97 percent and all new employees—hired on or after July 1, 2010—will contribute 7 percent of salary to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS).

The change is expected to save the city $1.65 million.

It’s probably a sure bet that the city employees aren’t necessarily happy with the deal or walking away from negotiations with a warm fuzzy feeling. Nobody wants to make sacrifices in either the form of reduced pay, reduced benefits, or suddenly having to contribute more to a benefits program when not having to worry about that in the past. Speaking personally, I can say with sincerity that I am VERY grateful for the sacrifices made by our city employees. Thank you!

But the negotiations aren’t over yet. Simi Valley Police were asked to make pay cuts last year and did so after a lengthy and dramatic negotiation process, where the Police Officers Association (POA) considered hiring a Public Relations firm to spread the word about the issue. Once the terms were settled, the POA was clearly unhappy with the resulting cut in salaries and shortly after announced the formation of their Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC is funded by an increase in POA union dues.

Despite the fact that other city employees were asked to take cuts in pay, a strong belief remains that the pay cut applied to Police Officers in Simi Valley was unfair. With more contract negotiations looming, anticipation is certainly beginning to build. City Council Candidate Mike Judge has something to say about it to his supporters, suggesting that “pro law enforcement” sentiments by our current City Council are disingenuous (see his remarks below on his campaign page on Facebook).

Our City Leadership scored some points with the negotiations with city employees, but it’s obvious there’s more challenging work ahead.

City Council Candidate Mike Judge on Facebook

Sinaloa Park to Become a Reality

Steve Sojka and Glen Becerra chatting as the crowd files in before the meeting.

Tonight I got to watch the City Council at work.  As Councilmember Steve Sojka put it, this was one of those City Council meetings to remember and be proud of.  Sinaloa Park, the proposed family recreation center, has been approved by City Council.  As a family man and 35 year Simi Valley resident, this is great news for me and my family!

There were several people in attendance this evening all of whom wanted to share their position on the proposed Sinaloa Park.  For the most part, positive support was overwhelming. Among the supporters of the project were CEO of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, Leigh Nixon, and local businessmen Mike Antoun and Alan Mann.  One of the most memorable and amusing presenters was from Cooper Brown, Simi Valley High School Student Body President, who informed the Council that the project meant enough for him to show up by himself to show his support.  “It’s not like my friends all say, ‘hey, let’s go to a City Council meeting!'” he said.  But he was compelled to show up and share his position that Simi Valley needs more to do for young people.

Barbra Williamson and Michelle Foster listen to comments from supporters of the Sinaloa Park project.

There were some who still didn’t look favorably on the project.  One individual who lives in the Sinaloa Lake community felt the project represented a liability. Though he did indicate that the project was well designed and that concerns of noise had been answered satisfactorily, he still believed the project would have an impact in liability insurance rates for the Sinaloa Lake HOA. I never did get to hear him fully articulate why that was. Another resident in the nearby Hacienda Estates expressed concern and a desire to increase police patrols, citing several recent occurrences of criminal activity in the area related to police chases and other issues.

In the end, the City Council unanimously approved the project and gave it the green light, a decision met with grand applause.

That means in a couple of years I can whip all of you on the miniature golf course. That’s right.  I intend to make miniature golf competitive. It can happen.  You’ll see.

Read more about Sinaloa Park at www.sinaloapark.com

Thank you Simi Valley City Council!

Simi Valley City Council listening to public remarks.

Keith Mashburn for Simi Valley City Council

I just spoke to Keith Mashburn who announced that he’s running for Simi Valley City Council.  When he initially contacted me, I knew immediately who he was because I recall the quotes from him regarding the Candlelight Nightclub issues that I wrote about a while back.  As a member of the Simi Valley Planning Commission, Keith Mashburn is someone who is definitely tuned in to Simi Valley current events.

Our conversation was brief, but I can tell that Keith is a genuine guy.  He expressed real satisfaction that voters will have a choice in both City Council Candidates as well as Candidates for Mayor.  With so many candidates, including two popular incumbents, I pointed out that it was definitely a long road ahead.  With confidence, he simply replied, “I’m up to the task!”  I believe him.

Keith Mashburn is currently putting together his campaign materials, including his website.  When that information is ready, I’ll link to it.  I sincerely hope that Keith opts to take advantage of the beneficial “network effect” of the social media tools, such as Facebook.

Best wishes to Keith and to his campaign.  As I receive updates from the Keith Mashburn camp, I’ll post them here!

Do Challengers Have the Chops for Simi Valley Budget?

The Simi Valley election this year is critical.  We’ll determine in this election who will be one of the critical decision makers in future Simi Valley budget decisions. And with an economy that’s on the road to recovery, but not yet fully on the up-swing, we need to know if the challengers have what it takes!

Here’s a snippet of a Ventura County Star article describing Simi Valley’s balanced budget. They key players are Simi Valley’s City Management and City Council, including the incumbents in this election.

The Simi Valley City Council has approved a $54.8 million budget, balancing it through a series of savings measures, including compensation reductions and leaving open a number of vacant positions.

City Councilwoman Michelle Foster noted at the council’s meeting Monday night that the budget for fiscal year 2010-11 was balanced without any significant service cuts.

“We don’t take lightly what we had to do tonight, and the impact that it has professionally and personally on so many people” Foster said. “I think our community looks at it and sees that we haven’t had to significantly reduce programs. We definitely have not reduced the level of service that we try to provide to our community.”

Though city expenditures had been projected at $59 million — $4.2 million more than projected revenues — the budget was balanced in large part through a series of “reverse priorities” savings measures, compensation reductions and transferring $1.4 million in building improvement fund money to the city’s general fund.

Nearly $2 million was saved through city department reductions, including leaving vacant more than 10 positions.

The only reduction in the Police Department was to eliminate funding for one vacant traffic services assistant position.

City Manager Mike Sedell, who oversaw the budget process, said police officers and managers throughout city government have taken three-percent cuts in their total compensation packages, which include salary and benefits.

Read the complete article here.

The Simi Valley budget is balanced, and done so without massive layoffs.  Can the challengers really say that our current leadership should be replaced, especially considering Simi Valley is weathering the economic slump better than some cities?  Can Mayoral Candidate Bob Huber and City Council Candidates Mike Judge, Scott Miller and Mitch Green be just as effective or even more effective as the incumbents?

Candidate Sojka’s Economy Bolstering Programs Approved

Sojka delivers Business Advocate, Business Roundtable for City

Pro-business ‘Vision’ adopted by City Council as part of 2010-11 balanced budget

SIMI VALLEY – Simi Valley City Councilman Steve Sojka announces approval of two of his proposals to bolster the local economy in Simi Valley. The addition of a Business Advocate and Business Roundtable for the City of Simi Valley were included as part of the Council’s approval of the fiscal 2010-11 Budget on June 21.

“Even though I can say we are more business friendly than we were 12 years ago, we are not where we need to be,” said Sojka, the leading candidate for Mayor of Simi Valley in the November election. “This is a step toward where we need to be.

“It comes down to streamlining the process, which creates jobs, and more jobs creates a better local economy, which creates a better City budget.”

The Council on Monday approved, as part of the budget for the Community Development Agency, a Business Advocate. This senior management analyst position would focus purely on assisting any business existing or planning to open in Simi Valley with any necessary action such as proposed improvements, relocating here, or application processes.

The Council also concurred on Steve Sojka’s proposal to form a Business Roundtable to bring together businesses that already have gone through City processes, along with City administrators, management and even the City Attorney’s office if necessary to discuss processes and the needs of Simi Valley businesses small, medium or large.

“In tough budget times, it is good to have a vision,” Sojka said, “and that vision is to support, supply, promote and create jobs. With these actions, the City has greatly enhanced its connection to, and liaison with, the local business community,” Sojka said.

The Business Advocate position becomes effective July 1. The Business Roundtable will return to the Council for further discussion in coming weeks.

“I think it’s awesome. Anything the City can do to help a business get through the red tape is a great thing,” said Darrell Coletto, owner of the First Auto Group, a prominent auto dealership in Simi Valley. “The sooner we can help businesses grow and expand, and hire employees, and increase the City’s sales tax revenue and boost the local economy, the better.

“If we can get that done, then these are great ideas,” he said.

Coletto applauded the proactive pro-business actions by Sojka, who currently serves as Chairman of the City’s Small Business Advisory Committee which is responsible for the Shop Simi Valley First campaign.

Steve Sojka is a three-term Simi Valley City Council member, starting in 1998, who twice served one-year shifts as Mayor Pro Tem. A lifetime resident of Simi Valley, he has been a business owner and active community volunteer and leader in Simi Valley for the past 25 years. His father Bob Sojka was Chief of the Simi Valley Police Department; and today Steve Sojka proudly serves on the Board of Directors for the Simi Valley Police Foundation. Sojka and his wife Laura have three children in Simi Valley schools.

Steve Sojka is endorsed for Simi Valley Mayor by current Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller; Council members Glen Becerra, Michelle Foster and Barbra Williamson; former Mayors Bill Davis, Ginger Gherardi and Ted Grandsen; former City Council member and County Supervisor Vicky Howard; former City Council members Nancy Bender, Dave Reese and Howard Rogo; Simi Valley Board of Education President Jeanne Davis and Trustees Janice DiFatta and Eric Lundstrom; former Simi Valley School Board members Carla Kurachi, Judy Barry and Steven Gould; Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board members Gene Hostetler, Mark Johnson and Dee Dee Cavanaugh and former Park District Board member Jim Meredith; Simi Valley Planning Commissioners Mike McGuigan, Tim Shannon and Jim Dantona, Jr.; and former Commissioners Rick Kunz and Bob Swoish.

Sojka also is endorsed by dozens of other leaders from community organizations representing police, education, business and youth sports and services interests. For a complete listing visit www.sojkaformayor.com.

Scott Miller for Simi Valley City Council

Scott Miller intends to submit his paperwork on Monday to run for Simi Valley City Council.  I’ve known Scott for a couple of years and know that he’ll put a lot of passion into his campaign.  But I’ve also seen passion behind the work the incumbents (Michelle Foster and Glen Becerra) have done during their time in office.  I had some questions for Scott about his campaign and he was gracious enough to answer them for me.

Q: Scott, I’m curious.  What’s inspired you to run for Simi Valley City Council?  And how will your presence in City Council be better for the City than by simply re-electing the incumbents?

A: Mike, one thing is that I am not seeing enough done for the small new business person. Also, I keep hearing from young people there is nothing to do in Simi Valley. Mike, I see a synergy there someplace. I feel that I bring a different look at things. My kids go to public school. My wife is a teacher. I am a business owner who is changing the way I am doing business. There are dozens of businesses that have closed in Simi Valley, my store being one of them. I am passionate about my city. I am the guy next door. I know I will bring a different spin on things.

Q: Name recognition is an important thing in local elections.  How will you “get your name out” to Simi Valley voters?

A: Mike, I know lot of different people from all walks of life. People know me from Tutu’s Shave Ice. I have been in Simi Valley for a long time. I make a point of not being a wall flower and I enjoy talking to people. My kids and friends make fun of me because when we go out, people come up to me and start talking!

It’s true!  I’ve seen this.  A chat with Scott outside the grocery store turned into a marathon of people shouting “Hi Scott!”  People know this guy!  But will that be enough to squeeze out one of two popular City Councilmembers?  Time will tell.

Best of luck to Scott Miller on his campaign!  More to come, I’m sure!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2951370&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Scott Miller at his shop, Tutu’s Hawaiian Ice Cream Shack