Former diplomat seeks council seat wants to balance city’s rural past with high-tech future
September 21, 2018
by Cameron Kiszla
ELECTION 2018 /// City Council candidate
Angus Simmons has worked with governments all over the world, but now he wants to use his more than three decades of experience to improve the lives of people in the city he calls home.
Simmons, 66, said his 35 years as a diplomat for the United States government have taught him a great deal about how to build consensus and do the most good for the most people, skills that directly translate to serving on the Camarillo City Council.
“That’s part of what a diplomat does, interact with people, listen and try to think carefully about what people are saying before making recommendations on projects,” he said.
Simmons is one of nine people running for three seats on the council. Incumbents Mike Morgan, Jan McDonald and Charlotte Craven are being challenged by Simmons, Shawn Mulchay, Jessica Romero, Bev Dransfeldt, Susan Santangelo and Daniel Goldberg.
Unlike some of his opponents, Simmons is a relative newcomer to Camarillo. He moved to town when he retired from public service in 2012 to be with his wife, Yongping Chen, a resident since 2002 whom he married in 2009. They have three adult children from previous marriages.
Simmons grew up in the Bay Area before moving to Maryland and then the U.K. with his family. He remained abroad to attend the University of Oxford, where he focused on Oriental studies, before returning to the United States and enrolling at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
He graduated in 1978 and a few months later began his career in the foreign service, most of which was spent in India, China, Japan, Burma and other Asian countries.
Simmons said his decades abroad give him a different point of view, something the council could use.
“I think bringing new perspectives and new ideas is always helpful in any kind of activity,” he said.
Simmons supporter Michele Vivirito agreed that fresh eyes are needed on the council and said Simmons brings both the qualifications and temperament to do a good job.
“I just admire his civility at a time when civil discourse in our politics is rare. He is always respectful, not only to voters, but even talking about the other candidates,” she said.
If elected, Simmons said, he wants to find a balance between two ideas: making Camarillo a city of the future while preserving the environment and a rich agricultural heritage.
He said the city needs to spend the next six months or so planning out future development and finding ways to create affordable housing for millennials and seniors through infill buildings. In exchange for saving open space, these buildings might have to go a bit higher than they are now, he said.
But with more places for employees to live, startups from local incubators and other tech companies can come in and create jobs and a strong local economy, something the council should actively support, he said.
“On the City Council, we can be a cheerleader and a brand ambassador (for Camarillo),” he said.
Simmons also wants to see more environmentally friendly amenities in Camarillo.
He supports the Clean Power Alliance, which gives the city’s residents more say over how they get their electricity and how much they pay for it, and wants to see more solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations around town.
“This is all part of thinking of the future we want to be in,” he said.