Williamson shows no signs of slowing
Barbra Williamson has been a member of the City Council for two decades, and she’s not ready to call it quits now.
Williamson, who currently sits as mayor pro tem on the dais, was the first to officially launch her 2012 campaign, publicly announcing her run for reelection in front of a group of supporters last week.
“I am excited about continuing to serve the people of Simi Valley, and I am ready to aggressively earn your vote,” said the 40-year Simi Valley resident, the longest-serving person on the council.
“Now more than ever my experience on the Simi Valley City Council is keenly needed, and I want to hear from you and learn what you think our priorities should be.”
An outspoken advocate for military personnel and veterans, Williamson held her July 19 campaign kickoff at the Veterans Plaza in Rancho Tapo Community Park, which sits a stone’s throw away from city hall.
A small crowd of 50 to 60 people gathered for the announcement. Among them was Mike Judge, the only other council member in attendance; Simi Police Sgt. Robert Arabian; several members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 55; and Williamson’s adult children, Matt and Jamie.
Louis Pandolfi, who served as the acting chair of the Williamson created Simi Valley Landfill Expansion Task Force and was the councilwoman’s appointee to the Citizens Fiscal Projection Advisory Committee last year, introduced Williamson to the crowd. He said she has the traits desired in an elected official: integrity, accessibility, innovation and a fighting spirit.
“(She’s a) person with tremendous experience, dedication beyond imagination, honesty beyond reproach,” Pandolfi said. “A person who cares about our senior citizens, cries for our injured veterans, works tirelessly for our businesses to succeed and most of all is always open to the residents of our city.
“And best of all, she never goes down in the ring, even when against four tough men,” he added.
Williamson said she expects “Monday night quarterbacking” from other candidates who are eager to win, but she believes building a successful future for the city takes teamwork.
“I’m proud that I’m a proven consensus-builder,” she said.
She acknowledged that many challenges lie ahead for the next council, including the loss of redevelopment and the stillsluggish economy.
Williamson said her focus would be on generating jobs; creating affordable housing for veterans, seniors and those most in need; securing land for a public cemetery; and allowing creative uses—such as wine tasting—in the city’s industrial zones.
Also in the audience for Williamson’s campaign launch were other candidates for local office. Josie Hirsch, who ran for a seat on Simi Valley Unified School District’s Board of Education two years ago and plans to do so again this year, said she’s behind Williamson.
“I support Barbra primarily because she is so well-connected in the community and so responsive to the residents of Simi Valley,” Hirsch said. “You need anything, you pick up the phone and she’s there for you.”
Challenger Keith Mashburn, who is vying for a seat on the council as he did in 2010, was also in the audience.
“I’m not endorsing her (by being here); what I’m doing is a show of respect,” Mashburn told the Acorn after Williamson’s speech. “Barbra’s been here a long time, she’s running again. . . . I just want to show that I can walk and talk with everybody.”
Mashburn said he wants to see a council that can get along; members can have their differences but should still be able to find common ground.
During her address, Williamson specifically thanked Mashburn for being there, joking that “he’s running for the other council seat, certainly not running after mine.”
When Mashburn was asked if he wants to kick the other incumbent, namely Steve Sojka, off the council, the retired firefighter and former planning commissioner said he doesn’t look at it that way.
“Terms are just that—there’s a beginning and an end,” Mashburn said. “The citizens are going to interview new applicants. . . . We’re all applying for the same job. They don’t own the seat. That’s how I see it. It’s an open seat.”