Three more appear for council
by Chris Wilson
In the early stages of the Ojai City Council race, set for
voters in November, three lawyers are poised to throw their hats
into the candidacy ring.
Ojai City Clerk Carlon Strobel said Mayor Pro Tem Joe DeVito's
City Council candidacy application has been returned and approved.
In order to be qualified as a candidate, applications' signatures
must be verified before applications can be approved, Strobel
Local attorney and Ojai Planning Commission Chairman Paul Blatz
picked up an application, but has yet to return it for verification.
Two other lawyers have also picked up applications.
Leonard Klaif, a nearly 10-year resident of Ojai, said his potential
candidacy was inspired by proposed local development projects.
Klaif said he's collected the necessary signatures, and will
likely file his application within the next few weeks.
"I think the Los Arboles project is the greatest disaster
to hit Ojai," Klaif said. "I want to keep Ojai the
way it is - as little change as possible." Klaif said he
has collected the necessary signatures for nomination but has
yet to file with the city clerk. He said he hopes to represent
the people who are tired of increased building that continues
to bring increased traffic to the city.
Klaif has never held an elected public office, but said he was
president of the Ojai Art Center board of trustees for five years.
Klaif works as a criminal defense attorney is a certified massage
technician and owner of Higher Ground Art Gallery.
Charles Stringer, another potential candidate for the council
said, though he's picked up the application for candidacy, he'll
make his decision to run, or not, within the next week.
"I'm discussing the matter with my family before I make
a decision," Stringer said. Licensed to practice law in
Washington State, Stringer has lived in Ojai for about 14 months.
Stringer said a large portion of his legal practice and expertise
has been in representing Native American tribes on issues of
environmental and natural resource law. He's never held or run
for public office, he said.
"Ojai, like a lot of small communities is becoming overrun,"
Stringer said. "Now it appears to be at a crossroads as
to how to handle its inevitable growth."
Emotionally laden responses and comments levied between different
interest groups, "tend to place an even greater wedge between
members of the community, which I find unfortunate."
Past experience negotiating between government agencies and Indian
tribal leaders, he said, will lend itself well to his ability
to use communication skills and artful leadership.
For now he's deciding how he can best serve the needs of his
family and still find the time for a voluntary position that
is sure to require an immense amount of time and dedication.
And, he said, he'll need to determine if there is interest in
electing a relative newcomer who may be able to offer a fresh
In order to qualify for a council seat, a potential candidate
must show that he or she is a resident of Ojai and a registered
voter, must be an adult, age 18 or older at the time of the election,
and cannot be a convicted criminal. The filing deadline for candidacy
is Aug. 9 at 5 p.m., but will be extended to Aug. 14 if an incumbent
fails to file. The election will be held Nov. 5.
Blatz, Councilman David Bury, and Mayor Steve Olsen could not
be reached for comment before Tuesday's press deadline.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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