by Jim Friedman Ventura District 5
I have a unique perspective when it comes to serving as a city council member in that I have served “at large,” meaning being elected city wide and now, being elected within a district. I served as a city council member from 1995-2003. When the city broke up into districts, I was elected again in 2018, and now serve as the elected representative for Ventura District 5.
At first, I had mixed emotions about being elected within and then representing a particular district, but now, after almost two years, I have to say that I prefer Districts over the previous “at large” system. Campaigning required much more walking door-to-door but there were far less candidate forums to attend.
As the representative for District 5, I have gotten to know my district and constituents much better that when I was serving the community “at large.” I do find that a district council member needs to be much more responsive to the constituents because the council member is now the first point of contact with the residents. Previously, when serving “at large,” any one of the seven council members could take on a neighborhood issue, but now, that responsibility falls directly on my shoulders if the issue is in District 5. I don’t mind this added responsibility because I feel it is my job to help my District 5 constituents and provide the highest level of customer service to them as possible. Good customer service is something that I learned and continue to practice in my Insurance/Financial Services business for the past 42 years.
Just because I represent the residents in District 5 does not preclude me from assisting residents in other districts. I have heard from many people outside of District 5 and have offered them help and advice. I do however encourage them to also contact their district council member in an effort to help them resolve their issue. I di not want to step on the toes of any of my city council colleagues.
Being the very first representative for District 5 has been rewarding in that I am meeting a lot of new people, solving problems and making a lot of new friends.