By Gabriela Miranda
The race for City Council in District 4 is down to five individuals—Lucy Cartagena, Jack Villa, Bryan MacDonald, Efrain Jimenez and Saul Medina. Due to her background as PTA president and involvement in various organizations, Cartagena—the only woman on the ballot—hopes to prioritize the homeless community and engagement with residents. Villa, an Oxnard retiree, aims to assess the city’s budget and youth development if elected. MacDonald already has a lengthy experience on the City Council and hopes to increase transparency and public safety resources. Jimenez, the youngest person on the ballot, said his passion for others and ability to scrutinize sets him apart. While Medina strives to focus on area development and increase job wages in the city.
Each candidate spoke to VIDA Newspaper in an interview to express their views in to how make Oxnard a better place:
During her time as PTA president in Channels Island High School, Cartagena learned to work with the local community, parents and students. This translated over into her volunteer time with various organizations like the American Cancer Society. Her time as commissioner on the homeless commission organization helped her focus on the broader and more challenging needs within the city—something she hopes to expand on if elected.
After feeling convinced to personally assist families in Oxnard, Cartagena founded Family First Project of Ventura County, a non-profit organization focused on working with parents to help their children and local youth succeed. “I am a bridge. I’m not always right but I do make it right,” Cartagena said VIDA Newspaper. If elected by the public, her immediate focus would go toward the growing homeless crisis in the city. Cartagena would also like to see the money the city receives placed into services, crises and organizations in need.
Cartagena has hopes to build up better neighborhood camaraderie and engagement—the investment in communities will have a ripple effect, she said. If you build up the neighborhoods, crime and youth development can be focused on as well. If elected, she hopes to regain the summer youth programs that were cancelled and revive a community focus on helping the local youth. “We need to invest in our future. Our children should not be going off to school and leaving our community. We should bring them home,” Cartagena said.
In regard to the Hispanic community, Cartagena hopes to see a rise in the community’s voting turnout. She hopes the Hispanic community, especially first generation, utilize their right to vote and have their voice heard in every upcoming election.
Cartagena plans to continue providing resources and services to Oxnard regardless of whether she is elected in November. As Cartagena is the only woman and Latina running in District 4, she said she is the underdog but has contributed the most to the city.
MacDonald, a retired police officer, is finishing his third term on the City Council—he said being re-elected will allow him to see projects completed and continue to learn and work for Oxnard. MacDonald has enjoyed his time with the City Council and said he learns something new about the government and residents each day. “No matter how much you think you know about anything, you have to try and keep your finger on the pulse of the community as to what’s important to them. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that,” MacDonald said.
If re-elected, MacDonald hopes to focus on three main things—financial stability and financial transparency, public safety and attracting jobs to Oxnard. He said the city is on the verge of announcing a new software program that will allow the public to easily view information on what the city is working on and doing. He’d like every citizen to be able to log onto the city’s website and view every financial report or information they’re interested in.
On both the police and fire departments side, MacDonald would like to see and advocate for an increase in their resources. Oxnard is the largest city in Ventura County and MacDonald said the only two trauma centers are in Ventura. He said the city needs to meet the residents needs and that can be done through public safety.
Admittedly, MacDonald said the city could do more to bring jobs into Oxnard—if re-elected he plans to be proactive in searching for local job opportunities. A clear example of his involvement in job creation, is the new Amazon facility that will be open in Oxnard with the creation of over 1500 new well paid jobs to this community.
Although MacDonald is running in District 4, he said his doors and ears are open to all residents in Oxnard. Whether it’s something minor such as picking up trash on an alley, MacDonald said he sees himself as someone who can get things done. “I think Oxnard is an enjoyable and bright community. I want to be a part of making it a better community,” MacDonald said to VIDA Newspaper.
MacDonald said, people take a look at his last name and assume he doesn’t know about Oxnard’s communities and Hispanic community—he said his grandmother was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 18. His family background helps him understand the differences and needs in diverse communities, he said.
He said farm labor workers in the community deserve better housing opportunities, which MacDonald strives to provide in the upcoming years.
“I tend not to look at people by the color of their skin or the language they speak, I look kind of by how they treat one another, how they treat me and how I would treat them. And I treat everybody equally,” MacDonald said.
This November, if re-elected MacDonald said it would be an honor to serve the community and finish the work he’s started. On Oct. 8, Oxnard announced a partnership with Amazon to open a new fulfilment center at the Sakioka Farms Business Park. The partnership is set to bring 1,500 new jobs to the city.
MacDonald said he is excited to work to maintain and bring more partnerships to the city.
With 43 years of volunteer service in Oxnard, Villa feels prepared to continue to serve the community through the City Council. As a retiree, he also said he can give his full-time attention to a part time job.
Villa, born and raised in District 4, hopes to challenge the City Council to be more engaged and involved with the city and districts, if elected. He said his roots in the district grant him a closer connection to the residents and he hopes to address the needs of the district such as overcrowding and parking. Although he admits there will be a learning curve if he joins the City Council, Villa said he’d like to assess the city’s budget, youth investment and public safety.
He’d also like to exert energy into the homeless community and communities like Fisherman’s Wharf. If elected, he’d like to oversee the clean-up and repairs of downtown and neighborhood roads in the city.
“I’ve had decades of time dedicated to volunteering with organizations and being engaged with the city. If elected to the council, I’ll only continue that engagement,” Villa said to VIDA Newspaper.
Despite at times a language barrier, Villa believes Oxnard’s Spanish speaking community should be equally as informed as the English-speaking community. He hopes to help the Hispanic community be engaged in the city’s politics and government.
An Oxnard native and at 31 years old, Jimenez is aware he is young and inexperienced—however he said his passion to help others, his ability to scrutinize sets him apart from others.
“I believe that as a Councilman, it’s my duty to represent the needs, as well as the desires of the people that live in my district. But I also think that it’s irresponsible to only look at the desires of people, as opposed to the necessary city functions,” Jimenez said to VIDA Newspaper. “I try to make the best decision I can and help those who severely need it.”
With an Associate in Science of paralegal studies, Jimenez has a solid foundation in law and institutions. He said this drove his desire to offer solutions and explanations to the needs and issues of others. Born and raised in Oxnard, Jimenez said he saw community members struggle and question where they could obtain help—he wants to be part of the solution finding process.
He also volunteered to be a commissioner in Oxnard’s homeless commission and for the mobile home park rent review, which is also called rent stabilization. In doing this, he said he’s had the opportunity to witness citizen testimony about mobile homes and their regulations. He said to Vida Newspaper, this has unveiled how city and local governments run and prepared him to campaign to be district 4’s newest councilmember. If elected, one of the foremost issues Jimenez would like to address is the difficulties of language barriers in Oxnard. Currently, he works in an auto parts shop as a retail salesman and in the past has had customers ask questions, he couldn’t answer due to the language barrier.
“I see how much it bothers them and how much it pains them. It really pains somebody to walk away from an answer and be empty handed and feel like you have nothing to turn to you or no one to turn to you about that,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez didn’t grow up speaking Spanish because his mother instilled in him that English was used in professional settings. However, he studied languages with Latin roots and speaks “decent” Spanish.
He believes the city needs to provide outlets for Spanish speakers to leverage the same power and opportunities English speakers obtain. If elected, he hopes to bridge the gap between English and Spanish speakers. To the Hispanic and general low-income community in Oxnard, Jimenez said he advises them to continue learning and working. “I think learning is the best way for anyone to get out of their situation,” Jimenez said. “If I’m a councilmember, I’d work and focus on helping those as well.”
If elected, Jimenez believes his best quality is his ability to scrutinise—he lives by a philosophy that decisions should not be made by a group of rulers behind closed doors.
Medina is the fourth of six children who worked in the fields of Oxnard—when his father told him to pick between field work or an education, he chose both. With three college degrees and still an Oxnard resident, Medina has now committed to youth development and education.
From 2005 to 2013, he served on the Oxnard Planning Commission and went on to serve on the Mobile Home Rent Review, Rose Park Neighborhood Council and other boards in the city. He said his background in the city has allowed him to understand the improvements needed in Oxnard—starting with protecting essential workers such as field workers, factory workers, etc.
As a mental health therapist within the county, Medina continues to see clients via zoom or telephone. If elected, he hopes to urge residents to “take COVID-19 seriously” and wear their masks so he can help businesses reopen safely.
“I want to make sure that we continue when we do that open safely, and make sure that we help businesses get back on their feet, whether it’s helping them to apply for assistance, or giving them guidance that they need in order to make sure that their business is prospering,” Medina said to VIDA Newspaper.
Medina also strives to focus on area development in Oxnard, such as restoring and efficiently utilizing buildings and spaces in the city. He assisted the refurbishment of the press career building on ninth street and said the vacancy is less than 90%.
He said there has to be a balance between agricultural jobs and factory jobs which are usually either higher wages—he hopes to continue assisting in the development of Oxnard.
In a message to the Hispanic community, Medina said everything in this world can be done with an education and an opportunity. He said if voters are seeking an Oxnard resident who speaks English and Spanish and will fix the streets, parks and alleviate the traffic—they should vote for him.
Medina also assists grassroot organizations that disperse food on the weekends to the front line’s workers in Oxnard—every Saturday Medina helps distribute the food.
“Vote for Saul Medina because I live here and I deeply care about bettering South Oxnard and the people who live there,” Medina said.