Two seats, many contenders for council race

From left: Steve Scheinkman and John Mazzza, Harold Greene and Mike Sidley

Six turn in candidacy papers for the April 13 city council election. Two more plan to turn in their signed papers by the deadline Friday.

By Jonathan Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times

The field for the 2010 Malibu City Council race is shaping up to be the largest in more than a decade. As of Tuesday afternoon, six people had submitted their papers to City Hall to officially enter the race, and another two said they also plan to run.

Mike Sidley became the first official candidate late last week when the county verified that the 20 signatures on his candidacy papers came from registered Malibu voters. Ed Gillespie, John Mazza, Lou La Monte, Harold Greene and Steve Scheinkman turned in their papers this week, and are awaiting county verification. Laura Rosenthal said on Tuesday she would submit her papers this week. Jan Swift also said he might run.

Former Mayor Walt Keller pulled papers for a possible run last month. However, he said on Tuesday that he was not sure if he would run. Regan Schaar and the man with no last name, Kofi, have also pulled papers. Schaar did not return calls for comment and Kofi has not provided The Malibu Times or the city with a phone number.

Candidates have until Friday to submit papers to City Hall. There are two seats up for grabs in the April 13 election. And for the first time since Malibu’s initial election, there are no incumbents in the race. Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern are not eligible to run again because of term limits.

Mazza, 64, and Scheinkman, 56, issued a joint press release on Monday announcing their candidacies. The two had been selected to run last month during a meeting of nearly 50 people at Guido’s hosted by Steve Uhring, a longtime opponent of many current City Council members, and his political allies.

Mazza is a planning commissioner and frequent critic of many on the current city council. Scheinkman, a retired business executive, moved here in 2006 and said he was active when he lived in Hidden Hills.

“John and I spent a lot of time together over the past few months and we came to see that we really have a common vision for what we see for Malibu and its future,” Scheinkman said on Tuesday. “We think with the combination of John’s experience and my experience, we make a pretty good team to work together toward those goals.”

Mazza said on Tuesday that he and Scheinkman would make the city council more “citizen friendly, less contentious and more consensus building.”

Upon hearing this comment, Stern, a longtime foe of Mazza’s, said, “If he [Mazza] wanted the atmosphere to be less contentious, he shouldn’t have been so obnoxious over the years.”

Mazza and Scheinkman were also criticized this week by fellow candidate Sidley, who called Mazza “unelectable” and said he has “made comments that are unpalatable to the citizens of Malibu.” Sidley said Scheinkman “doesn’t have the commitment to the city.

Mazza said in response, “The voters of Malibu will decide who is electable. Steve and I do not know who Mike Sidley is and look forward to meeting him during the campaign.”

Sidley, 48, is an attorney who grew up in Malibu. He said he was inspired to run when the city council in the fall gave Malibu Lumber Yard mall owners Richard Weintraub and Richard Sperber a temporary discount on the rent money they pay to the city.“I watched in disbelief as the members of the current city council, in essence, gave a gift of badly needed public funds to the owners of the lumber yard for no apparent or valid reason,” Sidley wrote in a press release.

Sidley called himself “‘an independent voice.’ I don’t want to be affiliated with any [other candidates]. What I want to be attached to is competent governance,” he said.

Also saying he is going the independent route is Harold Greene, 73, who has for many years headed the Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee, which oversees the annual Chumash Day celebration.

“I’m hoping to appeal to the voters that are not necessarily with big existing factions … I’m certainly not a new kid on the block. I’m comfortable in that kind of place,” Greene said.

Greene said important issues for the city include getting a viewshed ordinance approved (he served on the task force that has recommended a proposed ordinance to the city council) and “moving Malibu in the direction consistent with its vision and mission statements.”

“We’ve gradually drifted more toward commercialization and urbanization and getting away from the rural nature of the city,” Greene said.

La Monte served on the Viewshed Protection Task Force, with Greene. Also a member of the Public Works Commission, he told The Malibu Times last month that membership on both bodies has shown him “reason goes a long way.” “I’ve been able to bring opposing sides together to work out solutions that work out for everyone,” he said.

La Monte has called water the most important issue the city is facing. He favors the city’s alternative plan to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board’s recent decision to ban septic systems in central and eastern Malibu.

“It seems to me that Malibu is in a situation where there are many different forces trying to determine our future,” La Monte said. “We need to find a better way to work with them all.”

Rosenthal, 55, was one of the first candidates to unofficially enter the race, making a declaration in the fall. A member of the Public Works Commission, she is more widely known for her school activism, having served on many committees associated with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified District, including campaigns to pass parcel tax measures. “After many years of civic involvement and volunteering in our city and school district, and for various other organizations, I feel that this is the time for me to concentrate on issues that are impacting Malibu,” Rosenthal told The Times in October. “I look forward to leading the city toward positive change for its residents and coastal environment.”

Gillespie made it known he intended to run in this race two years ago. He had planned to run in the 2008 race, but stepped out just before the campaign officially began because of the death of his brother. Gillespie made a failed attempt for a council seat in 2006.

But at the time he was a new person to the scene. Gillespie, who has since served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and has been on the Planning Commission since 2008, told The Times in October that his knowledge has grown.

“I think I know a lot more now than I did before,” Gillespie said. “And my heart is still in the same place. I want to make positive changes for Malibu.”

Gillespie is not the only person with city council campaign experience. Greene unsuccessfully ran in 1996. Mazza had a failed run in 2004 as a write-in candidate and in 2006 narrowly lost in the race for two seats.

Swift, 48, was briefly a candidate in 2006 until he was forced out when he did not collect enough valid signatures on his nomination papers. He said this time he believes he has enough legitimate signatures and “probably is going to run.”

Swift in 2007 was sentenced to 30 days in jail for evading an officer in a slow-speed car chase in Malibu. He has had numerous run-ins with the law since at least 1986, according to court records.