For the first time in nearly three decades, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors District 2 race will be decided in the fall.
With fewer than 5,500 ballots left to be counted as of Thursday, Thousand Oaks City Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña was still shy the 50% needed to avoid a runoff with former Assemblymember Jeff Gorell, who entered the race six months after she did. Tweeted Gorell: “It will be a spirited race in the fall.”
As of the June 16 update provided by the Ventura County Elections Division, Bill-de la Peña had won 47% of the vote to Gorell’s 37%, a difference of 5,600 votes. Local businessman Tim McCarthy stood at 16%, 11,500 votes shy of Gorell.
There have been 54,880 votes cast in the race, or 40% of registered voters.
The last time District 2 was settled during the general election was 28 years ago, when Frank Schillo defeated Trudi Loh in 1994. Current District 2 Supervisor Linda Parks, who is terming out, either ran unopposed or won in the primary during each of her five campaigns.
Measures A&B go down
Ventura County voters have rejected a pair of measures that sought to enforce tougher restrictions on the oil and gas industry.
As of Tuesday, both measures were losing 47.5% to 52.5%. The Yes campaign, led by Ventura County Save Agriculture and Freshwater for Everybody, or VC SAFE, conceded that afternoon.
“With heavy hearts, we acknowledge the end of our campaign,” the group posted on social media. “We fought an uphill battle against Big Oil and made historic strides against corporate greed. We are more powerful than ever and will continue fighting for climate justice and a better planet for future generations.”
Measures A and B—the costliest in county history—would have required oil companies to seek approval from the Board of Supervisors if they wanted to do any new drilling.
Aera Energy (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and Shell) and Chevron spent a combined $7 million opposing A and B, according to campaign disclosures. The two entities control most of the Ventura oil field, a large and productive oil field in the hills north of the city of Ventura.
Via radio spots, print ads, mailers, paid social media, robocalls and text messaging, the “no” group claimed the bills would have increased the cost of gasoline at the pump and reduced the state’s energy independence.
Supporters of Measures A and B said the referendums would have ensured all oil drillers met the same environmental standards, as some are using a loophole to operate on permits that date back to the 1940s.
Ben Oakley of the Western States Petroleum Association, a nonprofit trade organization that supports the oil and gas industry, said Ventura County voters sent a clear message by defeating A and B: “Stop trying to shut down our highly regulated local oil and gas production.”
“The results show that those who push to eliminate local energy production are wildly out of step with a broad, bipartisan coalition of Ventura County voters,” Oakley said in a statement to the Acorn. “The vote is also a clear repudiation of attempts by some local politicians to grab power and politicize land-use decisions that should be left to independent scientists and experts at local, state and federal agencies.”
This story was updated at 3:55 p.m. June 16, 2022.