Q&A: County Supervisor Candidate Bobby Shriver

With longtime incumbent Zev Yaroslavsky leaving office later this year after five terms on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, seven candidates are vying for the chance to fill Yaroslavsky’s Westside seat on the powerful body in the June 3 primary election. 

Former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver and former state Senator Sheila Kuehl are regarded as the top two contenders and have raised the most money thus far. Shriver has raised nearly $848,000, including a $300,000 personal loan, while Kuehl has raised $717,000, as of the most recent campaign finance disclosures in March. 

Also vying for the seat are West Hollywood Councilman John Duran and former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich, who is running a campaign to bring attention to the problem of money in politics. 

Shriver, a former attorney, journalist and businessman, has prioritized ending homelessness among veterans, reducing the area’s reliance on imported water, improving traffic by connecting LAX and the Valley to rail, and moving supervisors’ meetings to different locations to improve transparency. 

Shriver recently sat down with The Malibu Times, discussing his proposals for the county if elected and differences between himself and Kuehl. 

TMT: What would you do to assist the homeless if elected? 

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We used to have a model [in Santa Monica] called a continuum of care policy. So you would move along a continuum, and people did a lot of research and realized that didn’t really work that well, particularly for what’s called the chronically homeless. The most important thing to do was to house them… once they’re in the apartment, and they have services in the building, that is a big change, then you’re able to get them to do other things. Stop drinking, stop doing drugs. That’s called “housing first.” 

The county does the continuum. The county…[has] all of this prop 93 money, it’s significant money, and it’s spent in a certain way now that I would try to change. 

What are your thoughts on the proposed Local Coastal Program to govern land use in the Santa Monica Mountains? [Editor’s note: after this interview, the LCP was passed by the California Coastal Commission.] 

It’s a big deal. You go to one place. You don’t go to back and forth between Coastal and county anymore. The standards are set out. It’s not at the whim of whoever staff member of the coastal commission you run into that day. Certain uses are protected, maybe not as much as certain people wanted them to be protected, but they’re protected… if I owned property there I would much rather go through a one-stop shop than an agency where one permit expires while I’m waiting for the other agency to act. 

Here’s the thing—however it plays out, [the county Board of Supervisors] having a meeting in Malibu would have been a good idea [before passing it to the Coastal Commission]. [Elected officials] might learn a thing about [local concerns]. 

What are the big differences between you and Sheila Kuehl? 

Well, I’ve hired people… I think it’s very important that you know how to hire people and the experience to run things…you learn how to do that, making a lot of mistakes hiring people, so I’ve done that [and] she has not. 

Second of all, I’ve attracted a lot of private capital. I know how to get people to invest money, I have a demonstrated record of doing that. 

[Sheila is] a very smart lady, she’s done policy making and she persists in the debates in saying the county is a state agency and executes what the state tells it to do, and I have a different idea. I view it as a local government agency and it executes what the state’s policy is to the extent its residents can be led to that execution, but if they refuse to do it, then the state can’t do anything about it. 

Several high-profile people have contributed to this campaign, including Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Warren Buffett, and you are related to the Kennedy political legacy. Are you too Hollywood? Do you feel entitled to this seat? 

I won more votes than anyone in Santa Monica, twice, than anyone in 100 years…Mr. Buffett funds “One,” he knows me. These are not people who I pull out of the hat, right? These are people I’ve worked with, who for whatever reason felt they would give me 300 bucks. And you know, [Kuehl] has $75,000 from the nurses union, and $25,000 from the Mungers, $10,000 here and there from various people in the Wilmington Trust, whatever that is. Nobody in my thing has any more than $300. 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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