Council candidate enters race early

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Three seats will be contested, with only one incumbent eligible to run.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Election Day is six months away, but Chamber of Commerce President Ed Gillespie has already announced his intention to seek a City Council seat in April, while others are weighing their options on whether to run.

Three council seats will be contested on April 8. Mayor Jeff Jennings and Councilmember Ken Kearsley are ineligible to run again due to term limits. And the third member whose term is expiring, Pamela Conley Ulich, said she has not decided whether she will run.

“I’m thinking about next week, not about December at this point,” Conley Ulich said referring to Dec. 17, when potential candidates have the first opportunity to pull papers for a council run.

Potential candidates must acquire 20 signatures from eligible Malibu voters, and return the papers to City Hall by Jan. 11. If Conley Ulich chooses not to run, the deadline to return the papers will be extended to Jan. 16.

Conley Ulich said she will not know if she is running until January.

“I have to consult with my family, with my life, and see what’s going on,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gillespie is definite about his intention to seek a seat on the council. Gillespie, who finished last in a 2006 bid for a council seat, said this time it will be different than two years ago when he was an unknown, and unfamiliar with many city issues.

“I haven’t been attending all the City Council meetings and the Planning Commission meetings unless there’s something major because I might be disruptive, but I watch everything on television, and sometimes twice,” Gillespie said. “I follow everything. I’ve learned a lot these past two years. And I’m not a newbie anymore. I have a feeling for everything that’s going on.”

Gillespie said he has not begun a full-fledged campaign, but has begun talking to people in the community about his ideas.

John Sibert, who has served on the Planning Commission for nearly five years, and has been involved in Malibu politics since the 1980s, said several people have approached him about running for office. He declined to specify who those people are.

“I’m not part of any slate or any group… and if I do run, I’ll run not as a part of a coalition or as an extension of the current City Council,” Sibert said. “If I run it’ll be on my own.”

Sibert said he is thinking about it, and will have a decision within the next week or two. A member of the board of directors for several companies, Sibert said he must consider his professional and personal life.

“[Serving on the] Planning Commission is an amazing commitment of time, and the City Council will be even more,” Sibert said. “I like this city and I’ll do everything I can for it. I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I’d be useful. I don’t need it for the glory.”

Jefferson Wagner, owner of Zuma Jay’s surf shop and a partner in the company designated by the state to run the Malibu Pier, said he has also been approached by several people about running for council.

“I’ve entertained the thought of running for City Council,” Wagner said. “I have friends that are on the City Council. I just don’t know if I’m the best candidate right now. I think there are other people out there who could be good candidates.”

Wagner said if he decides to run, he would make an announcement next month.

Another name being mentioned by insiders as a possible candidate for the City Council is Laura Rosenthal, a longtime parks and recreation and school activist. She would not elaborate this week on her future.

“I’m considering it, but I have no official comment for now,” Rosenthal said.

Jan Swift, who briefly ran in 2006, before being disqualified because the 20 signatures on his papers were not all from Malibu residents, told the local media earlier this year that he plans to run next year. But Swift has had some recent run-ins with the law, including stints in jail. A spokesperson from the District Attorney’s Office said this week that the office’s records were backed up and she could not confirm Swift’s legal status. Swift did not return calls for comment.

John Mazza, who attends nearly every City Council and Planning Commission meeting usually in opposition to both bodies, made unsuccessful council bids in 2004 and 2006. He said this week he had not decided if he would go for a third try. But he said he had not ruled it out.

Ryan Embree, who ran in 2006, did not return calls for comment.