Joan House served as council member for 12 years. Two incumbents, one newcomer and an old-timer file papers.
By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer
Councilmember Joan House has chosen not to run in this year’s election, which gave an extra five days for additional candidates to file papers for the April election.
House, who served as a councilmember for the past 12 years, said she would like to step back and reduce her involvement from local politics for a while. She said she has a person in mind whom she would support to fill her seat, but declined to say the name since the person had not yet filed papers to run. With House deciding not to
seek re-election, the deadline for filing has been extended from last Friday to Wednesday at 5 p.m., after The Malibu Times has gone to print. Look for further coverage online at www.malibutimes.com, Thursday.
Councilmember Jeff Jennings, former Mayor Walt Keller and political-newcomer Pamela Conley Ulich threw their hats into the ring on Friday. Mayor Ken Kearsley also filed earlier in the week. Public Safety Commissioners Ryan Embree and Carol Randall pulled papers last week, but Randall, as of Tuesday had not filed. Embree released a statement late Tuesday announcing his decision not to run. Randall said she is not sure if she will run. Although Keller did file papers, he said he, too, is not sure if he will run. If Keller chooses to enter the race, he would be one of several people council-opposition group Malibu Community Action Network (CAN) might support in the election.
CAN President Steve Uhring said the group is looking for three candidates to replace the two up for re-election and House. He said possibilities in addition to Keller include Jay Liebig of Taxpayers for Liveable Communities (TLC) and people he declined to specify, who, Uhring said, have not confirmed whether they would run. Uhring said he also might run. John Mazza, who has pulled papers but not filed, had previously been discussed as a possible candidate who might run with a CAN endorsement. But Uhring said he doubts Mazza will go forward. Mazza could not be reached for comment. Uhring said he is not concerned with being associated with TLC, if CAN decides to support Liebig. TLC is a group some in the community say wastes the city’s money with too many frivolous lawsuits.
“My belief is that the more the residents know what’s been going on in City Hall, the more they will see Taxpayer’s for Livable Communities, not as a cancer, but as a group who’s been trying to get things fixed,” Uhring said.
He declined to specify what those things would be, but Uhring said they would come out during the campaign. In response to Uhring’s statement, House said, “Since the courts have ruled in favor of the city every time, let him [Liebig] come with facts, figures, data and proof that there is an issue worthy of bringing a suit against the city.”
When House leaves her post this spring, it will bring an end to the longest tenure of any councilmember in the city’s short history. House was elected to the council in 1992. She was the top vote getter in both the 1996 and 2000 elections. House said in a telephone interview this week that much has been accomplished since she came to the council.
“We created the General Plan and a zoning code,” she said. “We got the different pillars of a local government in place that reflect the values and priorities of this community.”
House will probably most be remembered for negotiating the original Malibu Bay Company (MBC) Development Agreement. House, former Councilmember Tom Hasse and former City Manager Harry Peacock spent more than a year in talks with MBC representatives to come up with a deal. It was eventually revised to become Measure M, which Malibu voters rejected in November. House said, looking back, the biggest flaw in the pro-Measure M campaign was that the voters were not educated enough on the measure to see what she said were its benefits.
“I think people thought if
you voted no on Measure M, you voted no on development,” House said. “But in fact it was
a deal that reduced development and gave the city lots of amenities.”
House said the reason voters had what she said was the wrong idea about the measure is because the opposition campaign implied that during debates and with their literature. She said if the pro-camp had released more literature of its own explaining the measure’s benefits, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Uhring, who was a leader in the campaign against Measure M, suggested its defeat was a major reason she has decided not to run.
“I think the Bay Company Development Agreement was her shining moment, and it didn’t come to pass,” Uhring said. “She probably decided that she’d given all she could, and it was time to move on to other things.”
House said the failure of Measure M did not factor into her decision.