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Ojai city mayor candidate profile: Betsy Stix

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Photo by Elizabeth Herring

Betsy Stix

 

The city of Ojai mayor race has two candidates — William Weirick and Betsy Stix. The Ojai Valley News provided them several questions that they responded to in writing. 

 

OVN: What is your background, particularly as it relates to this position?

Stix: I was raised in the Midwest by parents who wove the values of hard work, resilience, kindness and integrity into the fabric of our daily lives.

After graduating from Williams College, I worked for several years at a variety of jobs in Paris, Tokyo and New York, including PR assistant for Ralph Lauren and as a paralegal at a leading NYC law firm. 

I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to helping others and returned to school, earning a master’s degree in education from Stanford. Over the years, I have taught in Northern and Southern California and New Mexico, where I have created honor societies, human development programs, and community service opportunities as well as teaching English, French, and history and coaching fitness, soccer and track to every grade, pre-K to 12.

As a teacher and educator, team-building, leadership, problem-solving and inclusion are second nature to me. I have taught in Ojai for 20 years, most recently at Besant Hill School, where I created and coordinated a curriculum for an all-school human development program which included civic education, environmentalism, self-knowledge, emotional intelligence, healthy communication, fitness, nutrition and substance abuse awareness. I have vast experience bringing people together for the common good and producing results.

 

OVN: Why are you seeking election in this position?

Stix: I love Ojai. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I plan to live here for the rest of my life. Since I moved here 20 years ago, our town has changed significantly. Tourism has increased, gentrification has accelerated, and there are more fences where there were once none. Our water reserves have dwindled, climate change has increased fire risk, and we are living through a pandemic and the revelations of deep-seated social inequity. These national events affect us locally. I believe we must invite input from across our community as we look for solutions to these fundamental challenges. After receiving so much from Ojai over the past two decades, I want to give back.

OVN: What goals would you like to accomplish during your term in office?

Stix: 1. Accelerate sustainable efforts to increase water levels in Lake Casitas and underground aquifers.

2. Dramatically improve our “in-town” fire readiness so we can successfully contain our next major fire, even when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

3. Increase availability of living spaces for workers, families and seniors.

4. Achieve less-costly, right-sized police protection so that everyone is treated with dignity and equal respect and free up resources for other priorities.

5. Help local businesses to stay afloat and get re-established during and post-COVID.

6. Partner with Ojai Trees and the county of Ventura to better care for the trees we have and plant more where needed to provide cooling throughout the Ojai Valley.

7. Partner with state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations to remove invasive plants, such as arundo, that consume inordinate amounts of water which harms the Ventura River Watershed.

OVN: What are the biggest issues facing the City Council?

Stix:  1. For the past few years, the state Legislature has been eroding local land-use decision-making powers. For example, if passed, Senate Bill 1120, a proposed “one size fits all” new land-use law, would allow four homes to be built on single-family lots throughout our entire state, including Ojai, with no discretionary oversight of our City Council. Ojai is a really nice place to live, and usurping local land-use decisions would change the nature of our town!

2. Implementation of climate-change policies at the local level that ensure that Ojai is part of the solution rather than a contributor to the problem.

3. Right-sizing police services contracted with the county at a fair price.

 

OVN: Why should people vote for you?

Stix: I am a skilled communicator and have dedicated my life to service. I understand that civil discourse is crucial. I am excited to preside over effective, participatory council meetings, be accessible to my constituents, and be responsive and decisive in the event of an emergency. I will collaborate with nonprofit and for-profit organizations and government agencies both within our community and throughout the region to reach common goals. I will work to negotiate cost-effective solutions and improve our lives in Ojai. I will do so from a place of balance, peace and open-mindedness. And ideally humor!

OVN: What else would you like voters to know about your candidacy?

Stix: I first fell in love with California in my early 20s when I biked from Anchorage to Los Angeles. The beauty and space were astounding! We are so lucky to live in such a welcoming, friendly and inspiring valley. If elected mayor, I will work hard to support and protect this amazing place that we all call home. I raised my children here, and I helped my parents as they aged here. I want to do what’s right for our unique and lovely town.

Teaching, hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, throwing a baseball with my sons in the park, friendship, being a good neighbor, and community service make my life rich and meaningful. I want to work to make it possible for more people of modest means to live and raise their families in Ojai. As we once again have smoky days and hot dry weather, fire readiness is high on my list of priorities. Water supply, civility, and ecological and financial sustainability are also very much on my mind.

Here’s a sample of some of my Ojai dream projects:

    1. Restore the natural function of our bioregion, the Ventura Watershed. A fully functioning watershed can give us slower, year-round flows in the Ventura River rather than high water followed by dryness.

    2. Create and enhance more small neighborhood parks like the beloved Daly Park in the Topa Topa neighborhood where I live. Plant lots of trees in the parks to create shade and microclimates, which lower the local temperature.

    3. Work with the county of Ventura to enlarge Soule Park dog park so that people have more room to run with their dogs and throw them a ball or Frisbee.

OVN: If you have a candidate website, what is the address?

Stix: www.ojaibetsy.com

OVN: If you have a candidate email, what is the address?

Stix: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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