City Council Candidate Profile: Rick Mullen

The Malibu Times sat down this week with council candidate Rick Mullen for the fifth of six interviews — one with each candidate leading up to the election. 

What do you think is the theme of your candidacy?

I would say the theme of my candidacy is to support and defend the mission statement of the City of Malibu

A lot of your supporters mention that you’re a veteran of the military. Do you feel that experience has prepared you for the city council member position at all?

I think it’s actually quite significant. To summarize without talking too long about it — I was a squadron commander. I got recalled to active service because I was a reservist for a long time, and I was a squadron commander in Afghanistan in 2004 for eight months. I was part of a joint task force, which means I was a Marine Corps unit in an Army Rotary Wing Task Force in a Coalition Joint Task Force, which means I was in a little camp and next to me were guys from Korea, Army National Guard guys, there were a bunch of horses, Egyptian guys, Macedonians — almost like the base was like the bar scene from Star Wars. It’s significant because what that has to do with what the city council is all about… a lot of my job was to bridge the cultural divide. 

I think that is a lot of what problem solving is all about. It’s not just going in with your attitude and applying it, but understanding where the other people come from, getting their side of the story, seeing things from their position and also understanding your own personality and the personality of the person you’re interacting with and how best to employ your personality to make things happen. You can’t always just make things happen because you want it to. 

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Do you have any specific ideas about how to make PCH safer? I know at one point at The Malibu Times’ debate you said at the certain point people would “overdevelop” it.

This is something that came up when I was on the Public Safety Commission at times because you can make things much safer by reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour and putting a street light on every corner but, at the same time, you’re going to reduce the rural character and make it much more developed in different ways. I think there’s a balance there. I just think that you have to keep that in mind. 

Some of the mitigation measures that went in when I was [public safety commissioner] — some of these things I’m going to mention were not initiated by me but they happened during the time that I was there. Some of the things that went in were the dividers, the flexible dividers that are on Zuma Beach and the median that went in by Trancas by the Chevron station there because people used to cut across. I think those are examples of things that do a good job of significantly reducing the dangers of high-risk area. 

You’ve used the phrase “I’m not a politician” a lot in your campaign. Do you want to run for office?

I think our form of government is based on citizen representatives. That’s what it was originally designed for. The Constitution — it wasn’t designed for professional politicians. It was designed for the guy manning his plow to — if he’s capable of and he brings something to the table — to step forward and serve his community. I think that’s a good metaphor for how I got involved in a lot of these things.

I think when there’s a call to duty, shall we say, that within each of us there’s sort of a decision point where you have to say, “Am I going to step forward or am I going to step to the rear?” Maybe if there’s enough good people that are stepping forward that are more capable than you, then it’s ok to step to the rear, but if there aren’t and if you have the experience and the capability to do something and there’s something that needs to be done then it’s the appropriate time to step forward. But I have no desire for public office beyond this point.  

Do you think in some ways you’re a single-issue candidate because you focus a lot on development and not other issues?

No. I don’t think I am at all. I have feelings and positions on a lot of the issues. I probably talk about the development issue because I do think that that’s really at the heart of the future of Malibu and how Malibu can be changed and actually a lot of the candidates are in agreement on a lot of those other things. I think everyone’s in agreement that we can make PCH safer. I think that everyone will say that they’re in agreement on the development issue for the future of Malibu but I do think that’s where the differences in the candidates lie. 

Do you think you’ve created an “us versus them” mentality with the rhetoric you’ve used against the current city council?

No. I think there are differences between the way the — how much esteem people hold for the mission statement. I’ll give you an example. As a community leader I have, throughout the years, interviewed people for city council. There have been people in the past who said things like, “I think we need more office space in Malibu.” The reason given was, “I have an office in my house and I want to get it out of my house and I don’t want to have to drive to Santa Monica.” To me, that’s not holding the mission statement in the same esteem that I do.

I believe that Measure R was a watershed moment in that it showed where people stood on the development issue for Malibu. Everyone will say that they want to preserve Malibu. There’s not anybody running that says the opposite. To me, Measure R was a watershed moment and where people stood on that issue indicates a difference in how they feel about the mission statement in Malibu. It’s not really an “us versus them.” Some of my opponents are very proud of their endorsements. I’m very proud of my endorsements. My endorsements are less in number but they are people who put their money and reputation on the line to actually preserve Malibu. Their endorsements, some of them, are people who stood in opposition to the people on the Measure R issue. That’s it.

The order of candidate interviews was randomly selected. This interview was abridged for length and clarity. A full transcript of each interview can be found at malibutimes.com 


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

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