Category Archives: Meet the Candidates

Amy “Yamamoto” Callahan Candidate for VUSD Trustee, Area 3

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Having been born and raised in Ventura it afforded me the opportunity to attend some of the best public schools in the state. I attended Juanamaria, Juniperro Serra, ATLAS (formerly Saticoy) elementary schools, Cabrillo middle and a proud graduate of Buena High School class of 1994. It was a time when our school district had many California Distinguished schools that our community attracted young families to Ventura.

When we started our own family, I knew we wanted our two daughters to grow up in the same special community that my sister and I did. I also knew I wanted to invest in the community that invested in me, but soon came to realize that not every student has the same great education I did, but should, and now more than ever.

As we are all feeling the challenges and uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, our children and grandchildren are feeling it even more. Our community has experienced real challenges before, and with the Thomas Fire specifically, bringing our community together and making us stronger together. It is this strength and sense of community that inspires me to serve and why I am running for Ventura Unified School Board for Area 3.

As an educator for over 20 years, I taught social studies and civic education in California, Hawaii and Texas. As a current Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) parent, member of the VUSD Superintendent Parent Advisory Council, and VUSD K-12 alumna; I bring a vested commitment to ensure our school district provides a safe, communicative, high achieving, and innovative world-class education experience for every student we serve.

I am proudly recommended by the Ventura Unified teachers and education support professionals along with several parent, student, non-profit and business groups in the community. I provide a trusted listening ear while bringing experience and expertise on education policy, budget and funding. I am also the only registered Democrat on the ballot for this seat.

For my birthday I humbly ask for your vote and for your contribution to our community to bring forward a best in class education system that values us and our input.

Others ways to support my campaign and our community with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors in Area 3:

Please forward this Dear Neighbor email and letter on.

Request a lawn sign to display at your home and/or business at

Convene a Zoom meet-and-greet (20-45 minutes) to listen and learn more about your specific areas of interest to share

Endorse me!

For updates and information, join my Amy “Yamamoto” Callahan Facebook Group and tag and forward on to your network.

Contribute $25, $50 or $100 today!

To learn more about me as a candidate and what I stand for, please visit

Barbara Brown, Candidate for City Council District 3

Clear skies, clean water, beautiful beaches, open spaces—that’s the best of Ventura, and I want to maintain that Quality of Life. Living here for over four decades, I am running for City Council because I want to give back to the community that has given me so much. My husband and I raised our son here; enjoying after-school soccer and baseball, scouts, weekend barbeques, and picnics at the beach, embracing that sense of community that living here provides. Well-maintained streets, beautiful parks, and safe sidewalks for moms with strollers, our little ones, and our seniors—these are my priorities.

I started my own business and worked with some great entities including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Patagonia, as well as startups and mid-sized companies. After 25 years, BBM&D Strategic Branding sold in 2019 to a San Francisco-based firm, and now I have the time to pursue my passion, working on behalf of the residents of Ventura. As a business owner, I am especially concerned about our local small businesses and families without a paycheck. I want to engage leaders in problem-solving solutions. There is much we can do—like extending the eviction moratorium for as long as is needed, using motels/hotels for COVID positive essential workers, providing food and transportation, and opening up opportunity spaces for businesses, because a bustling local economy is as important to Ventura as its beaches are.

As a leader for the Ventura Botanical Gardens, I helped build this transformative vision on the hillside. I believe in open spaces for both our mental and physical health. I support the Ventura Land Trust and the Rancho San Buenaventura Conservancy Trust. Maintaining clean air and water, reducing waste, eliminating one-time use plastics, and creating a more bicycle-friendly community are issues that I plan to tackle. Over the last two years, I worked on a bipartisan federal climate change initiative—the carbon fee and dividend legislation, H.R. 763—co-sponsored by Congressman Salud Carbajal, in an effort to address global heating on a national scale.

Resolving our vagrancy issues by engaging state and county governments, non-profits, and faith-based communities is important. I worked for nearly twelve years on the boards of Interface Children and Family Services, Ventura County’s most comprehensive provider of social services, and Goodwill Industries, which focuses on vocational training for economic justice. I understand the challenges the city faces in the area of homelessness and believe we need to be creative and collaborative in mitigating its effects on our community.

I am optimistic about our future and I believe together, we can accomplish anything. I want to maintain and enhance the Quality of Life that defines Ventura, for everyone who calls this city home.
I hope you’ll honor me with your vote on November 3.

William “Billy” Cornell Candidate for City Council District 3

My name is William “Billy” Cornell.

I was born in 1971.

I’m a General Contractor specializing in home repair and remodel serving the Ventura County area.

I’m a College Graduate with further education in the Building Trades.

I served a four year term as a Commissioner for the San Buenaventura Housing Authority. I also served on the Ventura Rent Control Board. Both of those were appointed offices. I worked as a Building Inspector for the City of Ojai and the City of Goleta.

Not unlike so many others I recently began a new role, along with my wife, as home school teachers for my son and daughter who are in middle and high school respectively. They are both currently enrolled via Zoom at Ventura Unified.

If I am elected to the Ventura City Council for District 3 the top three items on my agenda would be:

1. To plan for the recovery from this Global Pandemic that we face now and likely will continue to endure for quite some time. And implementing recovery plans.

2. Increasing the tax base for the city in an effort to fund our growing obligations and maintain our beautiful city without going back to the citizens to ask for more from them.

3. Further the support for our Mental Health resources and Law Enforcement Agencies to face the growing homeless population on our streets. This is a multi-faceted issue that will require support from the Housing Authority, Mental Health, many of our Faith Based Charities and special training for our Police who are working on the streets, many times the first responders.

Accomplishment in a Leadership Role:

As a past Commissioner with the Housing Authority I worked with Associate Commissioners as well as staff and City Officials to developed and approve new public/private housing developments and needed neighborhood redevelopment across the city. We began the long process of re-imagining the Westview Village property located at 955 Riverside St. and applied the same public/private assistance to all the properties needing capital investment for deferred maintenance. This process enabled the Authority to provide needed maintenance that wouldn’t have seen funding under the usual public funding allowance.

Castillo Del Sol was one of my favorite projects with the housing Authority. It’s a fully managed, 39 studio apartment facility, with preference given to adults with mental and development disabilities. The facility provides services from the County of Ventura and Tri County Regional Center.

Heather May Ellinger Candidate for City Council District 7

My name is Heather May Ellinger and I am asking for your vote to represent you in District 7 on the Ventura City Council.

As residents of Ventura, we are so fortunate to be surrounded by the great beauty of our coastal shorelines, hillsides and river valleys. I have loved living here and raising my children here for over 25 years. In that time our city has seen a tremendous growth and change.

As a Mortgage Field Inspector for ten years, I interacted with thousands of homeowners and their contractors. Traveling throughout Ventura on a regular basis has given me the unique vantage point of witnessing our city’s strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of residents all around our city.

I am acutely aware of the many challenges before us. Ventura needs:

  • Improved roads
  • Critical water infrastructure
  • The continued support of police and fire services
  • To finally, effectively address the homeless crisis on our streets

To assure these needs are met, we must attract, retain and foster thriving local businesses to generate the necessary funds to meet Ventura’s operational needs. Successful businesses offer greater local opportunities for all residents.

The Community Development Department plays a critical role in whether or not a business will open in our city. These are the responsibilities of the City Council which I believe have not been effectively addressed.

This year has seen an unprecedented reaction to the pandemic. Covid19 restrictions have devastated many of our local businesses. This terrible crisis has not only greatly jeopardized our local businesses’ survival, but also caused many residents to lose jobs or have work opportunities greatly curtailed.

We must advocate on behalf of our residents to the County and State to quickly and safely re-open businesses for full service. There is a balance between protecting public health and protecting people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. The County and City numbers do not support the continued restrictions and mandates.

We need Council members willing to stand up to outside forces in the face of adversity. This is our city, and we determine the direction we want to go.

As your next City Council Member, I will:

  • Focus on bringing new businesses to our city
  • Focus on supporting those devastated by Covid19 lockdowns
  • Efficiently work to bring positive results on critical quality-of-life issues and local concerns

I am open to discussing all matters big and small pertaining to our current situation, short-term strategies, and future aspirations of our city. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!

Meet me in person at my campaign headquarters every Thursday from 5 to 7 PM at BSF Fitness, 4580 Market Street.

Find me on Facebook: Heather May Ventura City Council District 7.
I am also on Linkedin, Twitter, and Nextdoor.
Email me directly at [email protected]

Vote for Heather May Ellinger November 3rd and tell your friends in District 7 about me.

Let’s make Ventura better together!

Aaron Gaston-Business Owner/Realtor Candidate for City Council District 3

It’s an understatement for me to say I care about Ventura, having been born and raised here. My family’s roots in Ventura start in the 1950s—my parents live in the same Pierpont Beach house where they raised my brother and me. As an alumnus of Pierpont Elementary, Cabrillo Middle, and Ventura High, I even had some of the same teachers and coaches that my parents had. It’s a legacy I’m proud to uphold, having brought up my own daughters in Ventura. My father owned and ran a small business in Ventura, and that entrepreneurial spirit was passed on to my brother and me at a very early age.

After I graduated from UCSB, I returned to Ventura to cofound and run a technology company helping individuals with disabilities, where I worked for nearly 30 years. I’m now a Realtor and business partner with my mother, Grace Gaston, who has been a local Realtor for over 30 years. My brother has owned the largest salon and spa in Ventura, Michael Kelley, for years, and recently, my wife Nicole Gaston founded her own salon, The Ivy Mae, in 2018.

My family continues to grow its roots in Ventura’s soil. With my family’s broad experience as small business owners, supporting small businesses is extremely important to me. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to run for City Council; investing in small businesses is investing in Venturans. I’m running for Ventura City Council District 3 to address the urgent and immediate issues affecting our City. I am committed to focusing on a robust local economy, supporting small businesses, improving public safety, preserving our environment, and addressing homelessness and housing issues. I am deeply committed to serving my constituents in District 3. It will be a privilege to represent you, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that your voices are heard. I believe in teamwork, not divisiveness, is essential to solving the challenges we are facing in this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. I am honored to have endorsements from Mayor Matt LaVere, former Mayor and Councilmembers Jim Monahan, Brian Brennan, Mike Tracy, and Sandy Smith. VUSD Board of Trustees Velma Lomax and Matt Almarez. Local labor unions IBEW Local 952, UFCW Local 770, Laborers local 585 (LiUNA), UA local 484, IUOE Local 12, Ironworkers Local 433, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (Local 805). City of Ventura Firefighters Association and City of Ventura Police Officers Association, and Ventura Chamber of Commerce PAC.

If you want to learn more about me, I welcome a conversation either in person or by phone. I can be reached at 805-242-6348 or [email protected].

Doug Halter Candidate for City Council District 2

The tug of war between maintaining a status quo and accommodating real changes in a city is a clear and present issue in our current city council elections. It has come to my attention that my point of view and values have been distorted in the numerous exchanges on this topic. Neither I nor anyone in Ventura that I know wants our City to resemble anything like the San Fernando Valley or Orange County. I have fought on many fronts for thirty years to preserve and enhance what we love about Ventura and maintain our uniqueness. Change stands all around us, and we must guide and manage it to create the prosperity our community needs.

I have fought hard to revitalize our City, preserve our history and amplify our unique and rich culture. I have also fought hard to preserve at least 80% of our hillsides, spaces owned by long time families who wanted to divest but also wanted to do the best thing for their families and our community. This was far before the establishment of the Ventura Land Trust and the Atmore’s Rancho conservancy.

Responsible development for Ventura must first meet our needs and allow our community to prosper. It’s essential that we save our farmland and reuse our urban fabric. A thriving city needs entry level affordable housing and executive housing; both are needed for a community to be sustainable. We do have a solid base of middle-income housing, but limited opportunities for people to earn that income.

While others restate our community vision, I sat on the 1999 Vision Document committee for two years. I started my own businesses to showcase what was possible in our renewing downtown and midtown, served as chair of the Chamber of Commerce and worked to support the living wage as the first Chamber in the country to do so. I encouraged businesses to not give up and helped them work through an arduous City process to expand a business or stay in business. On an average, it takes fifteen to twenty years for a commercial project to be approved in Ventura. City Hall still can’t answer four easy questions; What can you do with your property, what is the process, what is the timeline, and what will it cost? Why would investors enter that scenario with their lives’ savings?

I invest in the community because of one core understanding. We can leave our world better off with our unique contributions. To that end I’ve not only have participated on numerous boards to improve Ventura, but have founded or helped establish many such as the Downtown Community Council, AIDS Partnership, Social Justice Fund, CAPS broadcasting, the Ventura Music Festival, the Rubicon theater and the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

I am proud to say that my candidacy to represent you on Ventura’s City Council is endorsed by both the Police and Firefighters Associations.

We need change, bold leadership that has proven knowhow, to take ideas through to get results. I will be that leader.

For more information please visit:

Michael Johnson Candidate for City Council District 3

With the budget crunch, housing crisis, rise in homelessness, and water shortage, the next four years are going to be tough for City Council. I’m running because I care about these issues — not the other way around.

For years, I’ve been deeply involved in our community. In 2008, I was caught up in a crime spree in my neighborhood. Knock-knock burglars were creeping about. I knocked-knocked too, warning my neighbors to lock their windows. In response, the bandits set my car on fire.

On the bright side, the burglaries stopped, and I started a neighborhood group. That’s how I first got involved in our community.

I was active in the Poinsettia PTO, serving two years as President, and elected to the Anacapa School Site Council for three years.

In 2010, I joined the College Area Community Council; I’ve served as chair. For five years, I’ve been involved in city-wide issues, been there for nearly every meeting of the Homelessness/Affordable Housing Subcommittee, Water Commission, Economic Development Subcommittee, and Measure O Committee.

So I know the history. I know the people, the policies, and the processes. It’s why I’m ready to lead on Day One.

City Council has its work cut out, but I have a concrete plan. The housing crisis is fundamental; we can’t make progress on many other thorny issues until we tackle this one. We need more housing, both affordable and market-rate.

We need a city-wide Inclusionary Housing Plan which applies to for-sale and rental units. It must be inclusionary, the affordable units included in the project, rather than allowing developers to get away with paying a fee instead. We started working on this in 2017. It’s still not done.

We’re required to submit a Housing Element to the state in 2021, showing where we could accommodate 5,000 new affordable units. Our current Housing Element says somebody could build six apartments in the parking lot of the KFC. We must do better.

We need to streamline development review by implementing the recommendations of the Matrix Report. However, we must not go further by disbanding the Design Review or Historic Preservation committees, nor demote them to advisory panels. We need their expertise; they need the authority to ensure high-quality projects.

To address homelessness, we need more outreach workers; this should be our priority when the budget recovers. We need more affordable housing at the extremely low income level. We need to work with County to pursue HUD and Medicaid funding for Permanent Supportive Housing for our most vulnerable population. It’s cheaper than relying on shelters, emergency rooms and county jail.
Whenever considering big water projects, Council should consult directly with the experts on the Water Commission, and must consider the financial impact on ratepayers.
We need to add solar panels to city buildings, and electric vehicle chargers for public and city fleet use.

The College Area deserves a councilmember who is ready to lead on Day One. To learn more, or watch videos of recent candidate forums, please visit

Captain Dougie Michie Candidate for City Council District 2

Captain Dougie Michie, USAF (Ret.), MSc., MBA, JD, PhD, a Vietnam war era veteran, served on active duty then in the National Guard from 1972 to 1999. (Dougie Michie retired from the Air Force National Guard. His military title use is not endorsement by the Departments of Air Force or Defense.)

A Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Advisor, Dougie manages his investment clients’ finances, and has taught business finance in Cal Lutheran’s MBA graduate program. Dougie is equipped to guide the City through them.

Dougie earned his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Pepperdine. Dougie’s 39 years of legal experience, assisting over two thousand households navigate legal concerns, will benefit the City as it confronts legal issues.

Dougie mastered city planning while earning his Doctorate in urban planning. Well-thought-out planning requires the in-depth knowledge of city planning that Dougie has, particularly as the City addresses affordable housing and future growth. Dougie works and lives in District 2.

On Public Safety
Having worked with police officers and sheriff’s deputies as a former L.A. County prosecutor, I am against enacting policies that would put our officers in danger if implemented. I will not blindly adopt Campaign Zero, nor the 8 Can’t Wait prescriptions, many of which would endanger our officers in the field. Unfortunately, not all criminals are harmless, nor do they “play by the rules.”

I am absolutely against defunding the police department. I oppose the recent proposal to cut additional positions from the Police Department and from the Fire Department. If we want to maintain our public safety, we can’t do it by reducing positions.

On Homelessness
Like everyone else, I am tired of the impact on quality of life by those homeless that have drug problems and mental illness. By doing nothing, we are not helping these homeless. Meanwhile, the strange behavior, and sometimes aggressive behavior, is allowed to go unchecked, and we have to endure that behavior. The killing in Aloha by a homeless man should have been an alarm bell, but mostly, it is still more of the same.

The Ventura Police Department wants to address this problem by Enhance Patrol Task Force (PTF) coordination with County Behavioral Health and social service stakeholders and by utilizing enhanced patrol officers in public areas. They would also reinstitute gang prevention and intervention programs and focus on habitual offenders.

I am all for these strategic goals of our police department. But it’s not going to happen if we are cutting positions and not filling the positions that are authorized. I support filling all positions as a means of providing the police department with the means to implement their plans.

For those families that are homeless because of finances, the ARCH by Mercy House is a great resource. By helping get these families off the street and back on their feet we all benefit. I support ARCH and mental health and drug addiction intervention to reduce our homeless population and to win back our streets.

Michael James Nolan Candidate for City Council District 7

Ventura County resident since 2007. Father of Two College age daughters attending Ventura Community College. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley with my 10 brothers and sisters. Attended Chaminade College preparatory High School and received my B.A. in Marketing from C.S.U.N. Successful careers in Grocery and Wireless Telecommunications allowed me to sharpen my business acumen in land development, contract negotiations and retail space development all over Southern California.


  • Balance Ventura city budget. (currently in muti-milion deficit)
  • Reduce Crime. (currently 37% higher than national average and 5% higher than national average for violent crime)
  • Attract business and employment base to Ventura.
  • Make our streets safe.
  • Eliminate vacant business blight.
  • Ensure housing development is balanced and not just pockets of city.
  • Vote NO on any sales tax increases.
  • Keep open space free and accessible for residents.


50% of the homeless people in United States live in California. A good portion of those live right here in Ventura. I believe in feeding the hungry and providing shelter to those that need shelter but I am not in favor of street camping and panhandling. I want my family and yours to feel safe in this city. The stabbing murder at the Aloha grill was the last straw. I fully support our Chief of Police and the strategic plan. Ventura has the highest crime rate in Ventura County and that directly correlates to the homeless. Stop in Westlake, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Camarillo or Simi Valley and you will not see the problems we have in Ventura. We need to work closely with those sister cities to bring safety back to our streets. Not only does it affect our crime rate but our Fire Department spends a high percentage of their calls rescuing homeless when they could be working on preventing future fires. We do have many programs in place but most are only sustaining the problems and not working towards elimination. I have no secret weapon but I will make it the highest priority.

I love this great city. I taught my daughters how to surf here, We’ve camped locally, we attend the fair on a regular basis and we visit downtown as often as possible. Let’s get though this Covid Virus safely and continue to make Ventura a Destination city in the future together.

Nancy Pedersen Candidate for City Council District 7

I am honored to have the opportunity to run for a Ventura City Council seat to represent District 7.  District 7 covers the most land mass of all districts, capturing all of Ventura’s coastline residential and business areas plus a little inland territory between the 101 and the 126 freeways – south and west of Victoria Avenue. District 7 is a true hodge-podge of culinary delight – a hearty mix of residential neighborhoods, iconic Ventura destinations, and small and large businesses – all co-existing to drive the vitality and the economy of our Ventura.

Under our new district structure, Ventura will be best served by councilmembers who can be a voice and vote for the concerns of their district while holding that in balance with an understanding of the needs, requirements, and sometimes constraints of the entire community – and then working with the full Council collaboratively to prioritize and make decisions accordingly. A healthy and vibrant economy for Ventura as a whole will be one that is good for all residents of Ventura across all districts and provides each district the resources needed to meet its most pressing issues.

My breadth of professional and community experience in a variety of settings and my personal style make me uniquely qualified to serve District 7 and Ventura. I have strong professional credentials with 40+ years as a business and legal professional, including holding law licenses in California and Texas. My personal style is collaborative, direct and honest, and I have proven myself to be an effective facilitator and organizational leader. As the Visitors Center and Convention Bureau Board Chair, I gained insight into the operations and economics of Ventura and the value of its unique assets.

The last few years have definitely dished up challenges to Ventura.  With these challenges come opportunities to create a true tipping point, whereby we can take a fresh look at why we do what we do and how we operate – making sure our governing efforts support the needs of the community today and lay foundation for the Ventura we want for tomorrow.

As I have campaigned, I have received numerous endorsements by organizations in our community including those representing Ventura’s first responders and its businesses, and the labor organizations representing so many of our working families – these endorsements were received after many hours of completing questionnaires and participating in numerous interviews. Throughout these processes, I shared this same message and believe that my assessment of where we are and where we need to head resonates with so many in Ventura.

I have the capability, the capacity and the heart to support the effort in front of us, and to be a valuable part of the conversation to shape Ventura for years to come.  I am hopeful that as I campaign and as you get to know me, you will believe this too! And, regardless of who you vote for this election year 2020 – use your vote as your voice and please vote!

To learn more about me – visit