Election to determine balance of city council

The Malibu City Council election is April 13. Preliminary results will be posted online at www.malibutimes.com Tuesday evening after 8 p.m.

By Jonathan Friedman / Special to The Malibu Times

For the first time since Malibu voters selected members for the city’s initial governing body in 1990, the electorate on Tuesday will have no incumbents among the choices to fill two seats on the Malibu City Council. Nine men and one woman are running in an election that has the most candidates since 1992. This is a crucial election, which will determine the political balance of the council.

The candidates are Ed Gillespie, Harold Greene, Matthew Katz, Kofi, Lou La Monte, John Mazza, Laura Rosenthal, Steve Scheinkman, Mike Sidley and Jan Swift.

Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern are not eligible to run because of the city’s term limits law. With them stepping down, Councilmember John Sibert could be the only person remaining on the dais from the political group that has been in control since 2000.

Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist, 55, and La Monte, a television producer, 68, sit together on the Public Works Commission and have the backing of the current council majority. Although they have sometimes campaigned together, they are not part of an official slate. Mazza, a businessman, 64, and Scheinkman, a retired business executive, 56, are running on a slate endorsed by the opposition to the council majority. Mazza is the vice chair of the Planning Commission. He had failed runs for council in 2004 and 2006. Scheinkman has been active in various municipal issues since moving here in 2006, although he has never been appointed to any city commission.

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Scheinkman received the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce, which backed Rosenthal as well. This is the first time the Chamber has made endorsements. Gillespie, a yacht salesman, 62, has trumpeted his business background and former position as president of the chamber during the campaign. But he said this week he was not bothered by the non-endorsement from the chamber.

“I actually told one board member that it would be inappropriate for me to get the endorsement,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie is chair of the Planning Commission. Barovsky appointed him to the commission. She has endorsed Rosenthal and La Monte. Gillespie said in January this did not bother him because “not being attached to a political faction” will “make it easier for me to help the citizens.”

Sidley, a 48-year-old attorney, has received numerous endorsements from members of the education community. Most of those people also support Rosenthal, who has been active in school issues for many years. Sidley also received the backing of Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who began her council career in 2004 as a loyal follower of the council majority, but in recent years has become an independent whose vote is never certain. She also endorsed Rosenthal and La Monte.

Greene, a semi-retired workman’s compensation attorney, 73, has for many years headed the Native American Cultural Resources Advisory Committee, which oversees the annual Chumash Day celebration. A candidate in 1996, he said in January his campaign should attract those “that are not necessarily with big existing factions.”

Kofi, 41, said his legal name on his birth certificate does not include a surname. He is new to the Malibu political scene. Kofi is a record producer who lives with singer Cher. He has noted his relationships with Malibu’s rich and famous, saying he can get those people to put money into Malibu programs and projects. At a recent candidates’ forum, Kofi said he could “bridge that gap” to get that money into the community.

Katz, 80, made a living as a music manager and producer of famous bands such as Jefferson Airplane and through other business ventures. A longtime Malibu resident, he wrote in his candidate’s statement submitted to the city, “During the years that I have lived here, I have seen many changes, and they have not all been for the good.”

Swift, 48, has had the least active campaign of all the candidates. He has raised and spent no money and only appeared at one candidates’ forum. His said his appendix burst in February, and he has spent most of the campaign in the hospital or at home in recovery. Swift has had several run-ins with the law. He attributed his legal troubles to drug and alcohol use. He said he has been sober since 2007. “I’m a reformer like Robert Downey Jr., that’s why I want to give back,” Swift said in January. “But America’s great because you can have second chances.”

New financial statements released

Rosenthal leads all candidates in fund raising through March 27, according to the latest campaign finance statements that were due to City Hall on April 1. She gathered nearly $28,000, including a little less than $7,000 in the most recent period covering Feb. 28 to March 27. Rosenthal also listed $1,837 in nonmonetary contributions, covering such things as food for events. She loaned her campaign $232. She has spent $21,648.

Scheinkman has spent the most at $29,475. He raised $14,345, including $8,425 for the most recent period. Scheinkman put $13,386 of his own money into his campaign.

Among those donating to Scheinkman’s campaign were Malibu Country Mart owner Michael Koss and several of his family members, and a business associate of Koss. Those people also donated to Mazza’s campaign. Checks from Koss and his family members were also sent to Rosenthal and La Monte, but they returned the money.

“I felt like it was inappropriate to accept that much money from somebody who has developments here in Malibu,” Rosenthal said.

Mazza, who is often critical of development proposals, said he understood why some might find it odd that he took money from Koss. But he said people should not look at that to mean he would favor Koss or any other commercial real estate owner when items go before the council.

“I’m not going to be favoring anybody,” Mazza said. I’m going to be doing what’s best for Malibu.”

Scheinkman had a similar response when asked about his money from Koss.

Mazza raised $15,899, including $10,799 for the most recent period. He loaned his campaign $20,000 and listed $1,791 in nonmonetary donations. He spent $22,260.

The other statements include: La Monte raised $24,868 and spent $19,886. He did not receive any loans or nonmonetary contributions; Sidley raised $14,624. He loaned his campaign $20,000 and received no nonmonetary contributions. He spent $23,593; Katz spent $2,419 of his own money and did not receive any contributions; Kofi loaned his campaign $5,775 and spent $4,955 of it. He did not receive any contributions; Greene raised $3,448 and put $29,523 of his own money into the campaign. He spent $24,825; Gillespie raised $8,230 and spent $6,598.

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

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