The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for available and accessible mental health services throughout the county including East County.
While serving as chair of the Ventura County Community College District, Bernardo helped secure a half million dollar grant from the State Chancellor's Office to provide mental health services for our 32,000 students. That money was used to build stronger partnerships with county behavioral health departments and community-based organizations to support and provide direct mental health services as well as offer stigma reduction training for faculty and staff.
The inaccessibility of mental health services does not stop at our county schools. Bernardo prioritizes expanding access to these types of services beyond the classroom and into the community of East County.
Bernardo was a Board Member and then Project Manager at Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and has over 30 years of experience supporting and developing affordable housing choices for working families, farmworkers, Seniors and Special Needs populations. Throughout the county and particularly in Moorpark and in Simi Valley, there is a shortage of available and affordable housing choices for working families. 65% of renter households experience moderate to severe housing cost burdens in the 4th District. Consequently, our young people cannot afford to live in the community in which they grew up and/or workers cannot afford to live in the community in which they work. This makes it difficult for employers to attract and retain a qualified and skilled labor force.
One notable accomplishment among many, is Villa Campesina in Moorpark. This is a Self-Help development of 62 homes where families in groups of ten helped build their own homes. To this day, this is a shining example of what people can accomplish working toward a shared goal.
Bernardo will bring his experience to District 4 and collaborate with area nonprofits and other housing stakeholders to provide appropriately sited and affordable housing choices for working families, including essential workers. Bernardo will continue his support for continued funding of the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County.
During Bernardo’s 40+ years in the district, he has seen cost of living increase while wages struggle to keep up. To ensure Ventura prospers for future generations, Bernardo supports policies and programs that create a skilled and trained workforce for high demand jobs that pay a living wage. As a Trustee for the Ventura County Community College District, Bernardo oversaw the implementation of a technical career education training program that has seen students placed in local well-paying jobs.
At the county, Bernardo will work to align economic and workforce development strategies with those of educational and workforce partners to expand local career training opportunities. Bernardo’s focus and experience in providing affordable and available housing choices will help employers retain and attract a skilled workforce.
Bernardo will continue to protect our open space and agricultural resources in compliance with local and county SOAR measures. Bernardo also works to advocate and lobby for the complete cleanup and remediation of the Santa Susana Field Lab whose toxic pollution puts many District 4 residents at risk, especially children and seniors.
Bernardo also worked to have solar panel structures added in the parking lots of our three community colleges which lowers our carbon footprint but also saves our community colleges money which can then be used on educating students.
Bernardo supports improving and expanding local infrastructure and this covers many issues areas, obviously roads and sidewalks play a big role, but also a more robust public transit system, a reliable and efficient water collection and distribution system, internet access and more.
Some priorities on infrastructure are to expand and coordinate transit options for intra- and inter-city commuters so that they can spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. Close the Digital Divide for students, residents and the business community by completing the ‘middle mile’ and the ‘last mile’ of a countywide broadband network, and maintain a safe, clean and reliable water supply to equitably support and meet the needs of our valued agricultural community, industrial and commercial employers and residents.
District 4 requires real solutions for our unhoused population, not band-aids. This means services that will help individuals experiencing homlessness in the long run. That does mean housing and a bed to sleep in, but also means expanded mental health, drug rehabilitation, and job training/ placement services.
Bernardo served over 10 years on the Community Action of VC providing services to the homeless population and recently participated in the 2022 Point In Time homeless count in Simi Valley to gain an increased insight into experiences and challenges of individuals experiencing homelessness.
Lastly, making progress on the issues identified above will mean nothing if we do not provide for the safety and security of all residents so that they can enjoy a safe and secure quality of life. During Bernardos 40+ years working in the community he has helped develop and approve the second fire station in Moorpark providing complete coverage to the southern site of town. Bernardo has also set the bar for public safety, from his time as a council member and then mayor, Moorpark has consistently been ranked as one of the safest towns in the U.S. Overall, Bernardo has a record of providing public safety and first responder personnel with the resources and professional development they need as they continue to keep us safe.