Linda Parks (born February 21, 1957) is an American politician who served as Ventura County Supervisor representing the second district, which covers Bell Canyon, Casa Conejo, Lake Sherwood, Oak Park, Point Mugu, Santa Rosa Valley, Somis, Thousand Oaks and Ventu Park. She has previously served as the Mayor, Councilmember, and Planning Commissioner of the city of Thousand Oaks.
Early life, education, and early career
Linda Parks was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother managed a bookstore and her father was a writer, actor, and the voice of Smokey Bear. Parks earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1980. Parks earned her Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Washington 1982.
Parks worked as a transportation planner for private, public and non-profit companies including, Transportation Management Services, Commuter Transportation Service, and the City of Ventura with her transportation planning work included in the 1984 Summer Olympics and the Getty Museum.
Parks began her efforts to preserve the Ahmanson Ranch from development in 1987 which culminated in the land's purchase by the State of California in 2003.
Local level political career
Thousand Oaks Planning Commission
She was appointed to the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission in 1993 and cast votes in favor of the Amgen Campus, and the Promenade Shopping Center. During this period she wrote and organized the successful signature drive for the "Parks Initiative" that was made into law in the City of Thousand Oaks protecting city parks and open space by vote of the people. During her tenure, she created the concept for a hands-on children museum and helped found the Discovery Center.
Thousand Oaks City Council
Parks was elected to the City Council in 1996 with the highest number of votes in the city's history. She started a slow-growth movement leading efforts to protect Ahmanson Ranch in unincorporated Ventura County, successfully fighting an effort to put a golf course in Hill Canyon and to preserve the Lang Ranch ancient oak grove in Thousand Oaks. While on the Council, she wrote the City's first campaign finance ordinance.
In 1998 she teamed up with Steve Bennett and Richard Francis to lead the successful initiative drives for SOAR, Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources. SOAR stopped urban sprawl in Ventura County by preserving farmland and open space by vote of the people and voter-approved urban boundaries around eight of Ventura County’s ten cities.
Ventura County Board of Supervisors
Parks ran for a seat on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in 2002 while voluntarily limiting her campaign contributions to $500 per person; at that time, there were no limits to the amount of money a candidate could accept. Her opponent, Randy Hoffman, accepted $90,000 from a single developer in the county. Her win helped usher in the County's campaign finance ordinance which put a maximum limit on contributions.
She successfully established a Municipal Advisory Council and added synchronized traffic signals to Santa Rosa Valley and opened a long-awaited park there using park bond money.
Parks was re-elected in 2006, established two more Municipal Advisory Councils and a Fire Safe Council. She led the way to convert an appointed water and sanitation district to an all-elected body (Triunfo Water and Sanitation District) making it accountable to the ratepayers. Parks began providing a Ventura County Veteran Services office out of her office in Thousand Oaks.
She also led the effort to bring the County’s Human Services Agency including employment service assistance to the Under One Roof building owned by Community Conscience in Thousand Oaks, and has championed mental health services for the severely mentally ill as a member of the Ventura County Behavioral Health Advisory Board.
In 2010, Parks ran for re-election and faced Audra Strickland. Despite Parks being a registered Republican, the Ventura County Republican Central Committee funded Strickland's campaign in "member communications" to Republican households, which skirted the County's campaign contribution limit of $700 per person. Despite being substantially outspent, Parks defeated Strickland in a landslide victory, running ahead by more than 20 percentage points - 21,827 to 13,789. Following this, the Board revised its campaign finance ordinance to close the "member communications" loophole.
Park ran unopposed for re-election to Ventura County Supervisor in 2014 and 2018.
As a Ventura County Supervisor, Parks has helped grow the County reserve fund from 0% to 13% since joining the Board. She sets policy on the Board of Supervisors, and as a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Air Pollution Control Board, Southern California Association of Governments, Clean Power Alliance, Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance, Ventura County Behavioral Health Advisory Board, California State University Channel Islands Site Authority, Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission, Ventura County Transportation Commission, Ventura County Fire Protection District, Ventura County Watershed Protection District, and Ventura County Public Financing Authority.
Parks’ accomplishments as a Supervisor include organizing several county-wide Senior Summits to plan for the growing senior adult population. She has brought funding for job training programs, therapeutic services for disabled youth, increased access to services for veterans, and established a jail task force that reduced recidivism for people with mental illness. In 2018, she helped start Growing Works, an innovative plant nursery providing job training, employment, and horticultural therapy to people with mental health challenges. She has also taken a leadership role in providing transportation alternatives that have reduced congested roadways, including leading the effort to help college students with free bus fare, and starting the Kanan Shuttle, a free popular bus route with students and residents in Oak Park. Along with Thousand Oaks Councilmember, Claudia Bill-de la Peña, she co-chaired of the Santa Monica Mountains Bicycle Tourism Roundtable that led to a bike lane she championed installed on Potrero Road in Hidden Valley. She organized a 'Unity in the Community' event to promote peace, respect, and acceptance in response to anti-Semitic graffiti and hate messages found in Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Newbury Park.
She fought to protect the public from harmful pollutants and developed County guidelines that require testing water and soil near the contaminated Boeing Santa Susana Field Laboratory (aka Rocketdyne). She opposed a federal proposal for new off-shore drilling. As a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, she is helping to lead an effort to provide a wildlife bridge at Liberty Canyon. In early 2019, she initiated a first of its kind wildlife corridor overlay zone that was added into Ventura County’s General Plan to protect major linkages for wildlife migration. Parks set a goal to plant two million trees in unincorporated areas by 2040, with the County of Ventura planting 1,000 trees a year.
She has been honored with the "2019 National Phoenix Award" for disaster recovery by the U.S. Small Business Administration, "Justice for Victims Award" by the Ventura County District Attorney's office, “Environmental Hero Award, 2017” by the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, a 2017 Santa Monica Mountains Fund (SAMO) Honoree, “Paul Harris Fellowship Award” by the Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks Sunrise, the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation “2012 Citizen of the Year Award,” the Carla Bard “Environmental Integrity in Public Service Award” from the Environmental Defense Center, the “Walk the Talk Award” from Heal the Bay, the “Edward L. Masry Integrity in Community Service Award,” and was the 2014 Honorary Chair of the annual National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk.
2012 Congressional Election
Parks launched her campaign for the newly redrawn California's 26th congressional district in January 2012, following the announcement that Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly would not seek re-election. With the open primary, where the top two candidates advance to the November elections regardless of political party affiliation, Parks re-registered as 'no party preference' to be independent of the polarizing political parties. The Los Angeles Times endorsed Linda Parks over the other 5 candidates running for the 26th California Congressional District. Though she won the popular vote in her 2nd Supervisorial District, she lost in the larger 26th Congressional District.
Parks has the distinction of having had hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in campaigns against her by both parties, the Republican Party in 2010 and the Democratic Party in 2012.