Oxnard’s Fifth City Council District is largely a showdown between incumbent Gabriela Basua, longtime city council critic Lawrence Stein and newcomer Armando Piña.
“I am running for reelection because I want to continue to do the work I have started to do for South Oxnard,” said Basua, who has represented the district since November 2018.
Basua cited some of the improvements she has helped get made in the district, which includes several of the neighborhoods bordering Pleasant Valley Road and South Oxnard Boulevard.
“I was instrumental in making sure Fire Station 2 stayed fully staffed,” Basua said, referring to the fire station at Cloyne Street and East Pleasant Valley Road, “and getting lighting at Howell Street.”
Basua said she is a “huge advocate” of the planned aquatic center that will go in the vacant city-owned property adjacent to College Park, adding that she looks forward to having it in the district.
“To me, having grown up in South Oxnard and not being able to afford swimming lessons, it’s not only good for South Oxnard but all of Oxnard,” Basua said, noting Ventura has an aquatic center.
“What makes us so different than Ventura? Everyone deserves this,” she said, addressing critics of the project. “It’s really harsh to think out citizens don’t deserve this-they have to go to Ventura or Thousand Oaks.”
Basua said she talks regularly to staff about how to help the homeless members of the community.
“Homeless resources, that is a thing I really want to tackle,” Basua said, adding that she has been lobbying for a homeless services center. “We need to make a one-stop on the south end, staff is working on that.”
Basua addressed criticism of City Manager Alex Nguyen, drawing on her experience working for the City of Port Hueneme, where she is its housing programs manager, as well as with Oxnard staff.
“Alex Nguyen has taken Oxnard in a new direction,” Basua said. “When he first came it was budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts—he’s able to juggle resources to bring them to the community.”
Basua finished by saying she wants residents to know she’s accessible and eager to continue working to improve South Oxnard.
“I just want to make sure that residents know that I’m always available,” Basua said. “I just hope the citizens of Oxnard will give me another chance to keep serving them.”
In contrast to Basua, accountant Larry Stein is not happy with the way the council has done its job, something he has pointedly made clear at city council meetings since the 1990s.
“I got ticked off with city councilmembers, their disregard for the general public,” Stein said when asked why he is running yet again-he has run for city council seven times, mayor twice and treasurer once.
“The ratepayers are paying for water they’re not getting; the sea wall needs to be fixed, it’s 50 years old, falling apart,” Stein continued. “We need to make public documents more available; I ask for information and six months later there’s still no answer.”
Stein wants more police officers to reduce response times, and opposes plans for the aquatic center.
“The city is planning to spend over $50 million of taxpayer’s money for an aquatic center at College Park instead of $5 million for a pool complex,” said Stein. “I was told (by contractors) a $4 million complex was reasonable.”
Stein also complains the city has spent millions of dollars defending itself against lawsuits for actions he thinks are illegal.
Unlike Stein, Armando Piña doesn’t have any complaints about how the city is doing, he just wants to make sure it continues running well, while acknowledging “there’s always room for improvement.”
A sentencing specialist and self-described aspiring attorney who works for the Ventura County Public Defender’s Office, Piña believes in making sure residents know what resources are available to them.
He’s particularly interested in helping the homeless community and Oxnard’s youth help themselves by making them more aware of what programs are available to them.
“There’s a need for an active, engaging voice,” encouraging people to participate more in their community, Piña said.
“Just making Oxnard a place people want to come back to after getting a higher education, giving back to the community,” Piña said, explaining that is what is what has motivated him to run for office.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to the community that helped shape me,” Piña said. “I thought the best way to do that is to start locally.”
The city council elections are Nov. 8, along with state and federal elections.