Issues such as the view-shed ordinance, civility from government officials, school district relationships and the city’s economic decisions are forming the council candidates’ platforms.
By Jonathan Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times
In a throwback to Malibu City Council races of the 1990s, there is a double digit-sized field in this year’s competition for two seats. The deadline to enter the contest was Friday, and 10 people have chosen to take on the challenge. There are no incumbents in the race for the April 13 election. Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern are termed-out.
The candidates are Ed Gillespie, Harold Greene, Matthew Katz, Kofi, Lou La Monte, John Mazza, Laura Rosenthal, Steve Scheinkman, Mike Sidley and Jan Swift.
Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist, 55, and La Monte, a television producer, 68, sit together on the Public Works Commission. Although they will not be campaigning as a team, they are supporting each other. Rosenthal said, “We will be doing some [campaign] things together and we agree on a lot of issues.” The two are backed by several current and former city council members from Malibu’s political group that has been a majority on the council since 2000.
La Monte was also a member of the Viewshed Protection Task Force, which recently submitted a proposal to the city for a viewshed protection ordinance. He said he entered the race because “I just thought it was time for me to do something like this.” La Monte said he is pleased with what he considers to be the accomplishments of the current city council, including the purchase of Bluffs Park and Legacy Park as well as the defeat of BHP Billiton’s liquefied natural gas terminal proposal. He said he disagreed with the council’s recent choice of the design for Trancas Canyon Park, stating he preferred an option presented by architect Ron Goldman.
“I will continue to do what I think they were [city council members] doing right and I will change what I think they weren’t doing as well as they could,” he said.
Rosenthal, the lone woman in the race, has a long history of involvement with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. She has served on many committees and is currently leading the fight to bring temporary lights to Malibu High School’s athletic field. She said if she were elected, she would strengthen the relationship between the city and the school district.
“I don’t think they’re in a good point in their relationship right now,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t think they’re working well together.”
Although Rosenthal has the backing of many current and recent council members, she said, “I think that you would find I would bring a lot of changes.”
“I have not been happy with how some of the council meetings have been run,” Rosenthal said. “We need to be more civil and open to the community. And I want to make sure that happens.”
John Mazza, a businessman, 64, and Steve Scheinkman, a retired business executive, 56, are backed by the political group led by Steve Uhring and Ozzie Silna that has been seeking to dethrone the current council majority since it took over a decade ago. Mazza, who is on the Planning Commission, and Scheinkman are running as a team. They have issued joint press releases and hired a campaign consultant.
“We fully intend to put in every effort to change the direction of the city,” said Mazza, who unsuccessfully ran in 2004 and 2006. Scheinkman, who moved to Malibu in 2006, is in his first council race. He said he was politically active in his former hometown of Hidden Hills.
Sidley, 48, said he was inspired to run after the council’s decision in the fall to give Malibu Lumber Yard mall owners Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber a temporary discount on the rent money they pay to the city. The Serra Retreat attorney, who was born and raised in Malibu, called himself an “independent voice” who does not want to be attached to any political faction in Malibu. “I’m not beholden to anybody,” Sidley said.
Sidley, an attorney, has already sent out an e-mail challenging the other contestants to weekly debates that would cover the topics: view protection and the enactment of the View Protection Ordinance; the septic tank ban; support for public schools and the upcoming parcel tax; transportation; public safety; and government waste.
Another person born and raised in Malibu running for office is Jan Swift, 48. He was briefly a candidate in 2006 until he was forced out when he did not collect enough valid signatures on his nomination papers. Swift has had several run-ins with the law, but he said his legal troubles were due to drug and alcohol use, and he has been sober since 2007. “I’m a reformer like Robert Downey Jr., that’s why I want to give back,” Swift said. “But America’s great because you can have second chances.”
Swift said his criminal past should not hurt him in this campaign because “everybody’s got skeletons in their closet.” Swift said he is learning to work in the wastewater treatment facility field.
Greene, a semi-retired workman’s compensation attorney, 73, has for many years headed the Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee, which oversees the annual Chumash Day celebration. He was also on the Viewshed Protection Task Force. He said he should appeal to the voters “that are not necessarily with big existing factions.” Greene also ran for council in 1996.
Gillespie, a yacht salesman, 62, is a member of the Planning Commission and previously served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed to the Planning Commission by Mayor Barovsky, but will not have her backing in the race. He said he does not mind this situation because “not being attached to a political faction” will “make it easier for me to help the citizens.”
“I think it’s best for me to do what I need to do,” Gillespie said. “Now it’s not going to help me in my fundraising. It’s not going to help me in a lot of my exposure. And I’m not going to have a nice Web site like Lou [La Monte], I guess. But I will be working for the citizens of Malibu.”
Kofi, 41, told The Malibu Times his legal name on his birth certificate does not include a surname. He is new to the Malibu political scene. He wrote in an e-mail that he is running “out of gratitude to Malibu and its citizens for all they have given me throughout the years. I would love to be of service to the residents of this great city.”
The record producer further wrote that “safety and well-being of every resident is of the utmost importance to me.” He added that other important issues include the environment, improving education and promoting Malibu’s small business community.
Another record producer in the race is Matthew Katz, 80, who has also made a living as a music manager and through other business ventures. Katz first came to Malibu in 1975 and has been a permanent resident since 1979. “During the years that I have lived here, I have seen many changes, and they have not all been for the good,” Katz wrote in his candidate’s statement submitted to the city.
Katz said in an interview with The Times, “I’ve seen [the council] do things economically not too bright. It doesn’t support the needs of the community.” He continued, “It’s time for somebody to step up to plate and complain about who hasn’t got an agenda that has to do with a political career.”