Bill Ostrander (D) – Candidate for CA Assembly 35th District
Like most of you, I feel that our system of representation is not only pathetically unresponsive, but it’s terribly corrupted by money. Legislation that benefits our community at large should be common sense and straightforward. Instead, the corruptive influence of private money, rather than what is best for our community, has been deciding our policies and dictating our governance. That deeply disturbs me.
I’ve spent a large part of my life working on non-profit, common sense issues, like campaign finance reform, community service learning, Big Brothers, food security, sustainable agriculture, and conservation. These are issues with uncomplicated answers that I believe improve us all as a community regardless of gender or ethnicity.
Professionally, I have worked in many fields. I’ve worked on four continents and visited 35 countries. I have worked in the film business (mainly as an actor – some writing, directing and producing) developed property, built many homes for people in the entertainment business, construction consultant, farmed (hay and cattle) regeneratively (capturing carbon and building soils), and lobbied for campaign finance reform.
In addition to my farming, for the last 7 years, I have been working as the Director of the Citizens Congress, a non-profit organization working to remove the corruptive influence of money in politics. We have worked toward reforms on the local, state and national levels. In 2014, I gave a Congressional briefing in Washington D.C. and created a national conference on campaign finance reform at Cal Poly. I’ve also lobbied for reform in Washington D.C. in over 65 offices in the House and Senate. Presently, I’m working with Congressman Carbajal on analyzing election reform bills and authoring legislation requiring publicly traded companies to reveal their campaign contributions – a sorely missed check to the Citizens United ruling.
Locally, I’ve co-authored an ordinance called “Ensuring Integrity in our Elections” for the city of San Luis Obispo. This ordinance will establish publicly funded elections, require a strong disclosure bill that helps us to know who is behind big money media campaigns, and create a strong ethics panel that has the power to investigate those who abuse our election rules to subvert democracy.
Family and friend motorcycle trip
Bill and his son Jack
I am also Director of Citizens Congress Education Foundation. Our major focus at CCEF is creating a culture of community service learning for our high school students across the county. We put together “non-profit fairs” at the high schools to introduce students to non-profit organizations across our county that are addressing the vital needs of our community such as homelessness, animal rescue, visiting elders, beach clean up, assisting children with disabilities, and mentoring younger students. We are hoping that we get all 10,000 SLO County high school students doing 15 hours a year of community service!
I’ve been a Big Brother for almost 37 years.
I spent a year as a self-funded worker in Namibia, Africa, where I aided in the efforts to conserve black rhinos and cheetahs. As a community development volunteer in one of the poorest, most remote areas in the world today, I created the first all donated public library in Africa. Students were encouraged to transcribe the Khoe Khoe folktales told by their elders in their native language, stories which had previously only survived through the oral tradition. I established scholarships, created a cultural festival to aid the economy, refurbished a sports field and facility, and held an art competition for adults in order to encourage entrepreneurial employment to cater to a tourist economy.
Bill at the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania
I have developed two continuing adult education classes at Cuesta College: one on Political Science, specifically about money in politics, and a second class on Theatre Games and Improvisation to help people with public speaking.
And for fun, if you want we can talk about my work in Hollywood, horseback riding through Mongolia, climbing Kilimanjaro, or riding motorcycles around Sri Lanka.