Jennings, Kearsley reflect on time served

Ken Kearsley, right, and Jeff Jennings celebrate the end of their council terms at the election party of John Sibert and Kathy Wisnicki at the Malibu Performing Arts Center Tuesday night. Photo by Nora Fleming / TMT

The two council members served a combined total of 20 years on the Malibu City Council.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times / and Laura Tate / Editor

As City Council campaign supporters for candidates John Sibert and Kathy Wisnicki gathered at the Malibu Performing Arts Center Tuesday night to wait for the voting outcome, outgoing council members Jeff Jennings and Ken Kearsley reflected on their terms serving the city and their hopes for the future of Malibu.

Jennings, a Malibu resident for more than 30 years, served on the City Council from 1994-1998 and from 2000 to 2004; he was reelected for another term in the 2004 election. Term limits forced Jennings and Kearsley from their seats.

On Tuesday, Jennings said about leaving the council: “It’s been a large part of my life. I’m very grateful to voters who have allowed me to be so involved, but I’m looking forward to being relieved of some of the pressure.”

Jennings said he plans on continuing his law practice and wants to stay involved in city government.

“As a citizen, I want to add my voice to a direction I think this city ought to go,” he said.

Jennings said some of the accomplishments he is most proud of during his reign as council member are acquiring and preserving the baseball fields at Bluffs Park, and working with the county in the late 1990s to fix Kanan Road after landslides damaged it.

Also, he said, “If I look back, the thing I hope I’ve done is try to get the tone of the process, the council employed, less political and more consistent … to develop the tone where the relationship between the council and staff were not so adversarial.”

Jennings went on to say, “When a new city is formed, every decision is highly politicized… decisions are made based on politics, not city standards.”

Kearsley, who has been a resident of Malibu since 1961, was elected to the council in 2000, and then reelected in 2004. His local political involvement began in 1963 when he formed Malibu Citizens for Good Community Planning to fight the first county sewer bond issue. He also helped to defeat the second sewer proposal and the proposed Corral Canyon nuclear plant.

“It’s been a good 12 years,” Kearsley said of his time on the council. “I’ve made more friends, a few enemies, and it’s been my pleasure to serve Malibu and make it a better place.

“I don’t’ kid myself that I can’t be replaced,” he added, “but as along as people have the city of Malibu and the land of Malibu in their hearts, everything will be fine.”

Of the council’s accomplishments during his time serving, he said, “We governed; we got the ship of Malibu that was dead in the water moving.”

He listed the acquisition of land for Legacy Park and the stormwater and wastewater treatment plant as two major accomplishments.

“We’re going to have the most beautiful park of any small city in the country,” he said of Legacy Park.

As to the future, Kearsley said he is going to focus on his aerospace business and its 120 employees.

He also wants to continue helping Malibu, and work on raising money for Legacy Park to finish it. Kearsley said he believes that $6 million to $7 million will be raised by the end of the summer.

Both council members Sharon Barovksy and Andy Stern said it was “a huge loss” with Kearsley and Jennings leaving the council.

“We’re losing institutional memory and expertise,” Barovksy said.

As for the challenges the new council faces, Barovsky said it “depends on the new council.”

“I can work with anyone if they deal honestly,” she said.