Letters to the Editor
February 29th, 2024

To the Editor:

With the upcoming election next week I wanted to share my experience with our current Ventura County Supervisor, Kelly Long.

In January, 2023, 87 railcars suddenly appeared on Old Telegraph Road, between the Sepse River and Highway 126. They were put there for storage by Sierra Northern Railways, who recently leased the tracks from the Ventura County Transportation Commission. All of the cars were heavily graffitied. Most of the cars were owned by CEMEX. Some of these huge cars were placed directly across from country homes.

The cars quickly became an attractive nuisance to tagging crews from all over the county. And they began to attract kids jumping from car to car and unhoused individuals seeking shelter. Street signs and areas along the country roads became targets of vandalism. Without the ability to run trains between Santa Paula and Fillmore, due to the railbridge collapse over the Sespe in the winter 2023, Sierra Northern had found profit in storing the railcars and did not want to move them.

It took a year working with the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) and Sierra Northern Railways to get the train cars moved to less public places. During this time, Kelly Long listened, she added the railcar issue to every VCTC meeting, she arranged a town meeting to address the issue, and ultimately, she met personally with the President of Sierra Northern to secure an addendum to the railroad's 35 year lease.

I am not sure of the future of the railway in our valley, but I am certain we had a supervisor looking out for the business that a railway might bring to our town, the railway's need to seek profits, and the local residents who were facing another year of rail storage until the rail bridge can be repaired. The Kelly Long I saw was thoughtful, strong, charismatic, and a leader who understood the value of, and achieved, a working compromise.

This year the storms have closed the traffic bridge over the Sespe River and the Grand Avenue neighborhood, forcing residents, and soon, heavily weighted semi trucks full of avocados to turn left on Highway 126. Many people believe the potential for traffic accidents is great, and will be seeking a temporary stop light on the highway until the traffic bridge can reopen.

I do not know Kim Marra Stephenson, and I wish her well, but at this time I am voting to keep Supervisor Long in office. She is already working on both of our bridge issues and, this past year has convinced me that she cares about Fillmore, will work hard to support our community, and has the ability to achieve results.

Mrs. Susan Jolley,
Fillmore, Ca.