Malibu City Council Election 2008


On Tuesday, Malibu residents will be asked to vote for three candidates for City Council. Below are profiles of the five candidates.

Pamela Conley Ulich

Age: 41

Occupation: Attorney/Adjunct professor

Bio: When Pamela Conley Ulich ran for her first term on the City Council in 2004, she was a political unknown who had not served on any committees or been active in any campaigns. Now she is the veteran, the lone incumbent of the campaign. During her time on the council, Conley Ulich spearheaded the city’s effort to get Malibu’s fair financial share from the county government for the local library. She also was a major force on the council, along with Councilmember Andy Stern, in defeating BHP Billiton’s liquefied natural gas proposal. One of her main goals during a possible second term on the council is the passage of a retail formula ordinance, which would limit the number of chain stores in Malibu. She was unable to get the current council to support it. Conley Ulich has received support from various political factions in the city, and is considered by many to be an independent. She is the only candidate who has not endorsed another candidate.

Quote: “I think I like to unite the community in a common cause. I’m respectful of everyone. I’m independent.”

John Sibert

Age: 70

Occupation: Technology business consultant

Bio: John Sibert has been on the Planning Commission since 2002, initially as an appointee of Joan House and since 2004 as an appointee of Sharon Barovksy. His local activism stretches back to the 1980s before Malibu became a city, when he took part in the fight against the county government’s proposed sewer system. While his opponents have suggested otherwise, Sibert says he is an independent thinker, apart from the current City Council. He is aligned with Kathy Wisnicki, with the two combining their campaign efforts in an advertisement in this week’s newspaper. Sibert specified on Tuesday that they are not running as a slate. Sibert has a doctorate in chemistry and has had various academic and business jobs involved in environmental science. He says this experience will make him an asset to the city as it works to solve its water quality issues.

Quote: “Malibu is at a point now where we can accomplish a lot of stuff. There are a lot of environmental issues, and I think I can bring something to the table.”

Susan M. Tellem

Age: 62

Occupation: Public relations executive

Bio: Susan Tellem and her husband, Marshall Thompson, have been vocal opponents of development in their Malibu Park neighborhood for several years. But the two gained attention citywide late last year with their fierce opposition to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy’s parks enhancement plan, which included overnight camping in Malibu. Through mass e-mails, Tellem encouraged a large number of residents and regional media to attend the city hearings on the proposal. Tellem and her supporters say her activism is the reason the City Council, of which a majority initially supported overnight camping, eventually voted against the plan. Tellem is aligned with Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, and the two have appeared in ads together. Tellem has also supported Pamela Conley Ulich, the only council member she says is not part of a pro-development voting block.

Quote: “The only way you can change the balance of the City Council to get what you want is to vote for me and Jefferson and keep Pamela in. John [Sibert] and Kathy Wisnicki are going to be right back doing the same thing, because they’re going to be [Councilmember] Sharon [Barovsky] and Andy Stern’s echo.”

Kathy Wisnicki

Age: 46

Occupation: School board member

Bio: Kathy Wisnicki was elected to the school board in 2004, and has served as its president. She is the only Malibu resident on the board. Following the board’s decision last year to cut the amount of facilities improvement bond money for Malibu High School, Wisnicki said she would work to get the money back. Last month, the board voted to return the money. Her supporters credit that as one of several examples of her ability to fight for this city. Wisnicki has been involved in city politics, working with the city on school district issues. And she was active in 2003 for the failed campaign in favor of Measure M, the Malibu Bay Co. Development Agreement. Wisnicki says if she were elected, she would not focus solely on school issues. She appears in ad in this week’s newspaper with John Sibert. The two have endorsed each other’s campaigns.

Quote: “I decided it’s important for me to be where I can solidify the relationship between the city, the school district and other municipalities in the region. I can bring a perspective that doesn’t exist.”

Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner

Age: 54

Occupation: Business owner

Bio: Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 1992, has been a fixture in Malibu for more than 30 years as the owner of Zuma Jay Surfboards. Wagner says he is concerned with water quality issues, and blames the current council for not doing enough to deal with the problem. He has also criticized the council for being favorable toward developers. Wagner is one of two partners designated by the state to bring the Malibu Pier back into full operation. It has been a slow and troubling process for various reasons, and Wagner says he would like to make up for this with a good performance as a city leader.

Wagner’s residency status was initially called into question because his main home is in unincorporated county land. He is currently living part of the week in an apartment in the city. Two times, he received threatening letters telling him to drop out of the race or negative information about him would be made public. Also, last week, the word “dope” was spray painted in several places on his surf shop. The three incidents are still under investigation by Sheriff’s officials.

Quote: “This City Council has performed as well as our water quality.”