“From environmental stewardship, protecting open space and agricultural resources, and making county policies more reasonable to businesses and the public, Mr. Bennett has delivered for the public and he deserves another four year term on the Board of Supervisors.” –Ventura Star, May 12, 2012
Steve Bennett is a proven independent and effective leader. He has focused on bringing people together to find intelligent, common sense solutions to solve Ventura County’s financial problems.
Balancing the Budget
Steve Bennett has been a fiscally responsible leader. When Steve Bennett first took office after years of good economic times, Ventura County still had no fiscal reserves against a rainy day. Steve Bennett’s leadership helped change that. At a time of record budget deficits at all levels of government, Bennett helped balance the County budget ten years in a row; grew the County’s budget reserve fund from zero to 10% of the budget; and improved the County’s bond rating – saving us millions of dollars and leaving a strong legacy for future generations. He did this without cutting the programs and services crucial to the health and success of our community.
Decreasing BIG money in politics
Steve Bennett has been an independent leader who can’t be bought off by the special interests. Steve feels strongly about decreasing the use of big money in politics. He co-authored one of the state of California’s toughest campaign finance reform laws for the City of Ventura as well as the County of Ventura. Supervisor Bennett continues to improve the law to decrease the role of big-money contributors.
While other politicians talk about pension reforms, Steve Bennett has a proven record of fighting for responsible pension reform and protecting taxpayers in Ventura County. The Ventura County Star says, “Years earlier, Mr. Bennett showed leadership and courage by opposing what would have been a financially disastrous pension benefit, known as ‘3% at 50,’ which many other governmental jurisdictions in Southern California implemented.” He helped lead the fight to eliminate an outrageous pension spike for elected county department heads.
Job Creation and Economic Development
The Ventura County Star editorial endorsement of Steve Bennett states: “He is making county policies more reasonable to business and the public.” He did this through cutting red tape, streamlining permitting processes and helping small business. In the past four years the time to get a permit approved by the county has decreased by an average of 50%. Steve Bennett’s leadership in keeping Ventura County’s natural beauty and open spaces, make it a unique and attractive place to live and work. Steve has helped high-paying and innovative industries expand in Ventura County. At the same time, Steve knows that throwing away our open spaces and environmental heritage for short-term sprawl-creating projects will ultimately kill property values, jobs and quality of life in Ventura County.
Protecting Our Environment and Quality of Life
Steve Bennett is dedicated to protecting our quality of life, our local natural areas, open spaces and beach water quality. Ventura County’s open spaces and agriculture are a crucial part of our unique character. Steve has worked hard to protect our remarkable quality of life. When Steve Bennett first took office, Ventura County was in danger of succumbing to Los Angeles-style urban sprawl, harming our quality of life and agricultural economy. That’s why he co-authored the Save Open Spaces and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative to protect our open spaces and agriculture and promote livable and sustainable communities in Ventura. No other county in the United States has more effective protection against urban sprawl. SOAR puts the decision making power in the hands of the voters of Ventura County, giving them the right to have their voice be heard on this critical issue. Steve Bennett continues to protect our natural environment by improving beach and stream water quality. Steve has also been a leader in implementing many energy conservation strategies. He had the County and Air Pollution Control District develop Climate Change Action Plans, and led efforts to convert county fleet vehicles to hybrids, reduce SUVs, install solar electric systems on County Buildings, make new County buildings highly energy-efficient, and encourage green building in private construction. Supervisor Bennett introduced the idea of Countywide Climate Change Action Awards to be awarded Earth Day. In addition, Supervisor Bennett participates in and supports efforts of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition and VCCool.
Protecting Mobile Home Parks
The 22 mobile home parks under County jurisdiction provide affordable housing to over 2,000 residents. Supervisor Bennett has led efforts to protect rent control at the local and state level, including testifying before the State legislature and introducing several measures before the Board of Supervisors. Locally, he introduced measures to stabilize and protect mobile home park rent control, including adoption of an ordinance regulating mobile home park subdivision. In addition, he assisted many Ojai Valley mobile home owners obtain State-funded coach rehabilitation.
Helping the Homeless
As the economic downturn has increased the number of people sliding into homelessness, Steve led policy changes that improved County collaboration with cities on homeless issues. The County developed an innovative One-Stop center to coordinate services and Steve won critical funding for the cost-effective Homeless Prevention Program and Rain Shelter that provides transitional housing for families. He is the co-chair of the 10-Year Strategy to End Homelessness Working Group and he and his staff regularly participate in the Annual Homeless Count. Recently, Steve introduced a pilot program to provide motel vouchers for homeless people living in the Ventura riverbottom who had no where else to go. Steve will continue to advocate for the prevention of homelessness, including continued support for the Ventura Homeless Prevention Fund.
Funding Public Safety
As a result of the fiscal discipline Steve brought to county government, tens of millions of dollars are being saved to support strong public safety efforts and important children’s programs such as foster care and after-school programs. He established a mutually agreeable funding formula with County public safety agencies that allows their budgets to increase when revenues are available, but limits spending when tax revenues decline. Years of litigation over funding have been put to rest. His common-sense direct approach to funding public safety programs has earned him the endorsement of Sheriff Geoff Dean.
Youth and Senior Programs
After spending two decades as a teacher at Nordhoff High School, and helping to raise four children and caring for elderly relatives in his home, Steve Bennett knows first-hand the devastating impacts that the state budget cuts are having on programs for our children and elderly. On the Board he has fought to protect vital services for our youth and frail seniors. Supervisor Bennett believes that increasing the number of Foster Homes in the county is the best way to meet the needs of youths who don’t have the benefit of loving, caring family environments. Steve initiated a program where community members provide foster respite care to foster families. Steve Bennett is one of the county’s most effective recruiters of Senior Ombudsmen volunteers who visit everyone of the 10,000 seniors each week who are living in our skilled nursing and care facilities. His strong support for the program has earned Steve the personal endorsement of Silvia Taylor-Stien, the Executive Director of the Long-Term Senior Ombudsman Care program.