Election to determine balance of city council

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The Malibu City Council election is Tuesday. Preliminary results will be posted online at www.malibutimes.com Tuesday evening after 8 p.m.

By Homaira Shifa / Special to the Malibu Times

There could soon be as many as three new faces on the Malibu City Council as the city prepares to hold its General Municipal Election on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s election has the potential to significantly alter the political direction of the council as its two most independent members prepare to depart. Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich is term-limited and Councilmember Jefferson Wagner is not running for re-election. Councilmember John Sibert is the only incumbent running in the race.

Ulich and Wagner have generally not voted in predictable blocs in the past two years since the last election in 2010, while Sibert, Mayor Laura Rosenthal and Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte often, though not always, voted together on many issues.

Ulich has been outspoken in support of a formula retail ordinance that would limit the number of chain stores in Malibu, and has been the only councilmember to publicly oppose California State Parks? plan to reshape the Malibu Lagoon. The fate of a retail diversification ordinance currently being considered by the council will be unclear after her departure.

Wagner, an avid surfer and environmentalist, has demonstrated an independent streak on many issues, including water quality. Wagner also sits with Sibert on the Zoning Ordinance Revisions and Code Enforcement Subcommittee (ZORACES), which will begin designing the potential retail diversification ordinance in the fall.

The departures of Ulich and Wagner promise to have repercussions on other important city bodies such as the planning and public safety commissions. Wagner’s appointments to those bodies, John Mazza and Susan Tellem, respectively, were particularly outspoken on city policies in the past, and whether they return after Wagner leaves depends on who wins in Tuesday’s election.

Seven candidates are competing for three seats on the council, and the top three vote-getters will join the council. The candidates are (in ballot order) Hamish Patterson, Skylar Peak, Hans Laetz, Andy Lyon, Joan House, Missy Zeitsoff and Sibert. The Malibu Times has endorsed Peak, House and Sibert.

Peak led all candidates in campaign fundraising and spending as of March 24 with $29,905 raised and $15,837 spent. Sibert and House came in second and third, respectively, both raising and spending more than $10,000.

As of April 2, city hall had received 779 Vote by Mail ballots, but that number was expected to rise continually until Tuesday’s election.

Malibu residents can vote between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day at seven polling places across town.

At 8:01 p.m., the vote by mail ballots will be put into a vote-counting machine, City Clerk Lisa Pope said this week. Those will be followed by the ballots submitted throughout the day at the seven precincts in town.

Pope said counting of ballots from vote by mail and the precincts should be done by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night. If the top three vote-getters are sufficiently ahead of the fourth-place candidate, the results could be announced at the city hall chambers at that time.

Pope said that about 100 provisional and absentee ballots would likely still need to be counted after that, which should be finished by Wednesday morning. If the difference between third and fourth place is less than 100, an announcement on the third winner would likely be delayed until those votes were counted.

Election results will be updated throughout the day on the City of Malibu’s website, as well as Channel 3. Pope said the city was also considering posting updates to Facebook and Twitter.

There are 8,726 active voters registered in Malibu this year (as opposed to passive voters who have not voted in several past federal, state and city elections).

In 2010, current Mayor Laura Rosenthal and Mayor Pro Tem Lou La Monte came out on top of the largest field of candidates in Malibu election history (9) to win seats on the council. Rosenthal finished first with 1,734 votes, while La Monte edged out third-place John Mazza by 70 votes with a total of 1,324 votes.

That year 3,538 ballots were submitted out of 8,778 registered voters, for a voter turnout of 40.04 percent. Voter turnout in 2008 was 35.18 percent.

The highest voter turnout in Malibu election history was recorded in 1996, when 46.5 percent of eligible voters turned out to the polls. The second most was in 2000, when 46.12 voted.

Polling places

Precinct 2: Moana Room of Duke’s Restaurant

Precinct 14: Zuma Room, City Hall

Precinct: 51: Malibu West Swim Club banquet hall

Precinct 57: Malibu High School library

Precinct 59: Malibu United Methodist Church, Gabrielson Hall

Precinct 60: Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School library

Precinct 64: Michael Landon Center at Bluffs Park