INTERVIEWER: What’s your background as a Venturan?
MATT LAVERE: I was born and raised here. My family actually moved here 70 years ago. My grandfather and grandmother came here in 1951 with the Edison Company, so my mom was raised here and graduated from Ventura High. My brother and sister and I were raised here, and so I’ve been here my whole life.
Which measure on the ballot are you most passionate about and why should students and their families also support it?
LAVERE: Which measure?
LAVERE: Propositions? There’s only one, so any measure on the ballot?
Yes, that you are most passionate about.
LAVERE: Oh gosh, what I’m most passionate about is improving the quality of life for Venturans. And I think that Measure O and there’s also a school property tax – parcel tax – for schools which I think would go a long way to giving the school district and city the money they need to make the improvements, which I think are necessary.
Of the two, I think the school is what’s most important because I have a three-year-old daughter who is going to be entering public school in the next two years. Obviously, I want the schools to have the best resources, the best teachers, you know all the money they truly need to put forth the best products for our local kids. So I think the school tax parcel is what I’m most passionate about.
Two measures it seems Foothill families care about are Measure R and the measure extending the SOAR initiative. Do you support either, both, or neither of these measures? Why?
LAVERE: I support both. Measure R is obviously the tax parcel – the parcel tax, I’m sorry – so for the reasons I just stated, I support that. It’s really important for our schools, and I do support SOAR.
I don’t think it’s a perfect law, but, like many people around here, I love seeing open space, and I love using the open space. That’s one of the reasons why I love living here, and I think all of us really appreciate that it’s part of our quality of life. I think that the SOAR has played a huge part in creating this open space, that’s why I support it.
How do you plan to strengthen the partnership between the school district and the city, and involve more students in local government?
LAVERE: I think it’s critical. Public partnerships are, I think, the key of the future. There’s no reason why the City Council and the School Board or the city and the district shouldn’t be working together on a lot of different projects especially when the winners are either the students or the citizens of Ventura, and that’s something I’ve tried to do since day one.
I’m on the Ventura College Foundation Board, and I just created a really strong, private-public partnership that created 55 jobs for Ventura College students, and so I see first hand the benefits of what happens when you create those partnerships, with 55 students at Ventura College that are going to walk out and get 50,000 dollars a year.
And that’s what can happen when you do these partnerships, so I’m a big proponent of it, and I think that one of the reasons why I’m running is to get people, younger people more involved in the city process. I’m the youngest person running; I would be the youngest person on the council probably by like 10 years, and I think it’s really important that I start that trend.
And even in high school, you guys get involved early, and I want to get you part of the process. That way, when you’re older, you step up for the City Council, because I think it’s really important that cities are represented by the younger population and that voice be on the council.
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing our city today and how can it be addressed?
LAVERE: There’re a lot of issues pressing our city. I think the biggest one in my view is the lack of jobs. That’s really one of the reasons why I’m running. You’ll hear, if you’ve been to one of my speeches that I’ll say, I have a 3-year-old daughter and if she graduated college today, what opportunities would she have in Ventura if she came home right now. Would she get a job? Would she be able to afford a house?
I mean its the basic life opportunities that we all want. Job. House. Starting a life here. And when I graduated from college, close to 20 years ago, I couldn’t find a job, I couldn’t find a house, and really not much has changed in the past 16 or 17 years.
And so that’s one of the primary reasons why I’m running because I want to start creating those opportunities. And i think it starts with being able to provide people these jobs. And i would work really hard to both create jobs, work with companies to create jobs and to go out and seek their businesses and employers to come to Ventura.
Our City Council representatives should embody the values closest to our hearts, because these values will guide their decisions in office; they should act as leaders not only on Monday nights in City Hall but throughout their term in their interactions with the community. What values do you embody, and how do you act as a role model for the youth of Ventura?
LAVERE: I think my biggest attribute for me, going for me, is my passion for Ventura. I was born and raised in this town. My family’s been here for a long time, truly dedicated to improving Ventura, making sure this is the best possible town, from the students to the seniors, and everyone in between. I’m so proud to be from here, and I want to share this passion for making this town a better place.
And I think one thing that I would tell you, and you should ask this of all candidates, is I’m not just some politician who wants to run for office, you know you should ask people, what have you done leading up to this, what have you proven to the people, what have you really done to really make a difference in this community.
And I’m on the Board of Directors of Project Understanding, where we’re really working on the homeless situation of getting people off the streets. I’m on the board of directors for the Ventura College Foundation, where, you know, I created the jobs program. I’m on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Rotary Club where we focus on underprivileged kids.
I’m an appointed Ventura Parks Commissioner where we’re really trying to clean up and make our parks safe, because there’s been a lot of crime in parks recently, and we’re trying to fix that. So yeah, I’ve proven myself, and I’ve proven my commitment to the city. So I think running for City Council is the next logical step to continuing my efforts to make this place a better place to live.