Oxnard Planning Commissioner Daniel Chávez Jr. has been appointed to the Ventura County Transportation Commission, filling one of the commission’s two non-elected citizen spots.
Born and raised in Oxnard, Daniel Chavez, Jr. is proud of his Hispanic roots and his community. The son of Georgia Elena Marquez and the oldest of four boys, he grew up in the Bryce Canyon North neighborhood in South Oxnard.
Daniel attended local schools in both the Oxnard and Hueneme School Districts. After graduating from Hueneme High School, he was employed by the Hueneme Elementary School District (HESD) as a paraprofessional. Daniel currently works for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a Bus Operator out of the Chatsworth Division. His first meeting will be Feb. 4. His four-year term ends Jan. 31, 2025.
“I’ll be able to bring everyone on the same page so we can have out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to transportation,” Chávez said to VIDA Newspaper, adding he sees an opportunity to build a sustainable future.
“When we look throughout our county, we have to realize transportation is constantly changing,” Chávez said.
“We need to recognize that technology is going to play a big role; we need to make things safe and mobility friendly,” Chávez continued.
Chávez has experience in public transportation as a Los Angeles Metro bus driver since April 2014. Born and raised in Oxnard, Chávez graduated from Hueneme High School in 2007.
“I used Gold Coast buses to get to the store, I just saw it as a need—not everyone can afford a car,” Chávez said to VIDA Newspaper, citing his own experience as a public transportation user.
He ran unsuccessfully for Oxnard City Council in 2016 and has been a planning commissioner since Aug. 2019.
He is also the Chair of the Safety Ambassadors For Employees (SAFE) Committee with Metro Los Angeles, which gives Metro staff a way to raise concerns about safety with management.
VCTC is composed of all five members of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, one member from each of 10 city councils, one citizen member representing Ventura County the cities and one citizen member representing the county.
Besides regulating the various bus systems that operate in Ventura County, VCTC plans for, funds and manages a wide array of activities like bike paths and even Hwy. 101.
VCTC Director Darren Kettle said the commission was unique among transportation commissions for having two non-elected members.
But Kettle said Chávez will have the same role as any of the elected members, with input and vote on projects and funding decisions.
“Daniel’s joining the commission at a really critical and challenging time,” Kettle said to VIDA Newspaper. “Ridership is down—how do we deep our service up? We discussed just that at our last meeting.”
This year the commission will be launching two long-term planning studies that will probably take a year to 18 months to complete.
Although it doesn’t have funding for the project yet, Kettle said the commission will be planning an upgrade to about 30 miles of Hwy. 101.
“We’re hoping to improve 101 from Hwy. 23 in Thousand Oaks to Hwy. 33 in Ojai,” Kettle said.
The upgrade would come as traffic along that stretch of the freeway is likely to increasing, as people who have been out of work start driving to jobs in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.
“When they are finally able to go back to work, a vast majority may have to travel further to find work,” Kettle explained.
In January 2021, Daniel was appointed to the Ventura County Transportation Commission by the Mayors of Ventura County to represent all ten cities. Oxnard Mayor John C. Zaragoza nominated Daniel, and Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava supported the nomination. The votes result was unanimous for Daniel to serve a four-year term from February 1, 2021 – January 31, 2025.
Oxnard Mayor John Zaragoza, who was on the commission for 12 years as a county supervisor, said he nominated Chávez because of his experience and to bring a younger perspective to policy discussions.
“It’s a pretty powerful commission, he’ll be a role model for youth,” said Zaragoza to VIDA Newspaper, who is being replaced by Oxnard City Councilmember Bryan MacDonald. “I think we need young individuals like him making policy.”