Describing Malibu politics as marred by “venomous personal attacks and anonymous character assassination,” Malibu Planning Commissioner Ken Kearsley announced his candidacy Oct. 1 for a seat on the five-member City Council. He pledged an issue-oriented campaign free of personal invective.
The election will be held in April 2000, and the formal start of the campaign will take place in mid-January, when all nominees must file candidacy papers with the city clerk.
Kearsley’s early-bird announcement prompted one other candidate to declare her intentions. Reached by telephone, incumbent City Councilwoman Joan House told The Malibu Times she will run for re-election. House was elected in 1992 and again in 1996, when she was the top vote-getter.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Carolyn Van Horn says she intends to run but thought it a bit early to announce her candidacy. The election includes seats currently held by Van Horn, House and Walt Keller.
Former City Councilman Jeff Jennings, who lost his seat in the 1996 race by 29 votes, declined to confirm that he intends to run. He said he is canvassing those who have supported his campaigns in the past but is not yet prepared to commit himself.
In a letter to The Malibu Times [please see page A4], Kearsley remarked that local politics increasingly pits “senior citizens … against our youth, longtime residents against recent settlers, and supporters of active recreation against those who simply want to contemplate nature.”
Urging the “us versus them” rhetoric be dropped, Kearsley suggested problem solving can be improved by reopening communication within the council, with government agencies and with the community at large. Alluding to the conflict between planned growth and no-growth advocates, he predicted the chasm can be bridged. “It is time to understand,” he writes, “that the needs of our fragile environment and the needs of our residents are not always mutually exclusive.”
Kearsley’s community activism in Malibu dates to 1963, when he helped found Malibu Citizens for Good Community Planning. The organization fought a sewer proposal favored by Los Angeles County. Other battles included proposals to build an atomic reactor and a freeway. He also worked for Malibu’s independence from the county government and was active in Malibu Committee to Incorporate.
A veteran social studies teacher and department chairman at Santa Monica High School, Kearsley holds a master’s degree in municipal planning and geography. He serves as vice-president of Barry Avenue Plating, a family-owned aerospace firm that employs some 110 workers.