2012-11-08 / Front Page

Brownley over Strickland in new 26th Congressional

By Darleen Principe

VOTING—Laurie Roundtree of Westlake Village votes in the Nov. 6 election. Los Angeles County turnout was almost 52 percent. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers VOTING—Laurie Roundtree of Westlake Village votes in the Nov. 6 election. Los Angeles County turnout was almost 52 percent. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers After one of the closest and most expensive political races Ventura County has ever seen, voters on Tuesday sent a new member to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrat Julia Brownley has won the newly formed 26th Congressional District.

Brownley, a three-term member in the coastal 41st Assembly District, trailed her Republican opponent—state Sen. Tony Strickland—as the initial returns came in, but as the ballots continued to be tallied Brownley inched ahead and built a lead she never relinquished.

“When the first returns came in we thought they’d be better,” Brownley said. “But we also knew from the very get-go that things could go very well for us, and ultimately they did.”

The 26th District includes most of Ventura County and a sliver of western Los Angeles County.

Julia Brownley Julia Brownley Brownley won 52 percent of the votes. Strickland, a freshman state senator from the 19th Senate District, earned 48 percent.

Elections offices have until Dec. 7 to certify the election, which may still be affected by mail-in and provisional ballots that haven’t been counted.

Still, Brownley said she is gearing up to attend a new-member congressional orientation in Washington next Tuesday. She will then return to the county to work out details of her staff before taking her oath of office in early January.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled and looking forward to being very visible throughout the district, and getting better acquainted with so many people,” Brownley said Wednesday. “I’m very, very grateful to the folks in Ventura County who had faith in my candidacy and voted for me.”

Strickland could not be reached for comment.

The newly drawn district, which includes Westlake Village in Los Angeles County and most of Ventura County except for part of Simi Valley, contains 31 percent registered Democrats and 25 percent registered Republicans.

For Democrats, the local race was an opportunity to regain Ventura County following longtime GOP representation by soon-to-retire U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Camarillo) who held the county 13 consecutive terms.

Following the primary race earlier this year, Strickland and Brownley emerged as the toptwo vote getters from a crowded, six-candidate running field—one that included four Democrats and Independent candidate Linda Parks.

“I really believe it’s a transformational moment for Ventura County with a different type of representation,” Brownley said. “I want to move forward on the issues we’ve talked about, that really is about expanding the middle class, protecting Medicare and Social Security, education and healthcare.

“I want to do a lot of listening over the next few weeks in preparation of taking the oath.”

Voter breakdown

According to the Ventura County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, about 60.2 percent of the county’s 427,000 registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election. That’s almost double the 33 percent voter turnout in the June primary.

While Brownley carried the more liberal west county districts of Oxnard and Ventura, Strickland performed well in the conservative east county and won 55 percent of the Westlake Village vote in Los Angeles County.

Brownley and Strickland raised nearly $4 million for the primary and general elections. Reports show Strickland collected $2.2 million and Brownley $1.8 million.

Election night

Brownley’s team watched the election results at a party at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo. The almost 100 supporters of all ages cheered when they saw President Barack Obama get re-elected to the White House.

Camarillo resident Lolita Valianos said she voted for Brownley because she wanted to protect her rights as a woman and stand up for education.

Brownley is currently chairperson of the Assembly Education Committee.

“I have a grandchild, and I care,” Valianos said. “To me education is way up there in terms of what’s important for our country.

“I’m ready for the change that Julia is going to bring to Ventura County.”

David and Jennifer Escamilla of Oxnard attended the watch party in Camarillo and said they support Brownley because she will give Ventura County’s Latino community a voice it’s never had before.

“Coming in here and meeting all these friendly people who support Julia—I just know it’s going to be different,” said Jennifer Escamilla, who works for Child Development, Inc. “Also she’s a supporter for schools and an advocate for child development.”

On the issues

As education chair for the Assembly, Brownley has championed support for bilingual students, music and arts programs, professional development opportunities for California’s teachers, and improvement in state curriculums.

As a member of Congress, she promises to help keep Social Security intact and to prevent Medicare from turning into a voucher system. She said during her campaign that she’s concerned about increased government spending for Medicare, but that she supports “Obamacare.”

Strickland campaign ads portrayed Brownley as an unabashed government spender.

Brownley said she is a strong supporter of campaign finance reform, assistance for veterans and investment in small business. She also aims to protect the environment and help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

On the issue of immigration, Brownley said she believes in creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, while tightening border security and holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers.

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