Incumbents could face four challengers in election

A total of six candidates have filed for two council seats up for grabs in the April 11 election. Two are political unknowns, one a regular council and Planning Commission attendee, and another a public safety commissioner since the ’90s.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Mayor Andy Stern and Councilmember Sharon Barovsky could be challenged by as many as four candidates in the April 11 election. Chamber of Commerce Board member Ed Gillespie, Public Safety Commissioner Ryan Embree and Malibu residents Jan Swift and John Mazza filed for the race prior to Friday’s deadline. As of Tuesday afternoon, City Clerk Lisa Pope said she was still verifying the eligibility of Embree, Swift and Mazza’s candidacy by making sure the 20 signatures on the papers they turned into City Hall came from Malibu residents. Pope said she had not finished verifying their papers because those candidates turned them in on the final day, and she had not yet been able to contact the Los Angeles County Registrar.

Stern and Barovsky, who have endorsed each other’s campaigns, are running for their second terms on the council. Barovsky said on Tuesday that she was pleased with what the council had accomplished over the past four years, including the city nearing the purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site and the portion of Bluffs Park containing the ball fields. Both are in escrow.

“I’m just going to try to run a clean campaign on the issues,” Barovsky said. “I’m going to run on my record.”

Mazza has attended nearly every City Council and Planning Commission meeting for the past several years. He often speaks in opposition to both bodies during the public comment portion of the meetings. Mazza said he decided to run because he wants to improve what he said are the flaws with the current council.

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“I want to reestablish a functional city government with good planning and citizen involvement, and that works for the betterment of the residents of Malibu rather than the developers,” Mazza said. “The current City Council has been doing a poor job of doing that.”

Mazza ran for council in 2004. He placed sixth out of the six candidates running. However, he entered that campaign late as write-in candidate after another candidate had withdrawn.

Embree has been on the Public Safety Commission since its inception in the ’90s. He said earlier this month that he was running for council because he could do a better job than Barovsky. He said the council had failed to get as much grant money as it could and was not aggressive enough with the California Department of Transportation to ensure the state agency would pay fully for Malibu projects.

Gillespie is a new player on the political scene. Although he has been on the Chamber of Commerce board since 2004, he was not registered to vote in Malibu until earlier this month. He said he was running for office because he believes he can have a great impact on the city.

Gillespie owns Malibu Yacht Sales and lived in Beverly Hills and Malibu until 2003. Since then, he has lived exclusively in Malibu. Gillespie said he has closely followed Malibu politics for several years.

Swift is a political unknown. The Malibu Times could not find any politically active locals who knew he was. Swift was born in Santa Monica and grew up in Malibu. He said he was running for council because he wanted to do many things for the community, including creating places for the youth and seniors.

“The City Council seems to be an old fraternity,” Swift said. “They are set in their own way of doing things. I can bring some excitement and fresh blood to the government.”

Swift was not registered to vote in Malibu until this month. He said he had been registered in Pacific Palisades because he was living there for a time with his father. But Swift said he has been living in Malibu for the past two years.

Besides choosing two candidates in the council election, Malibu voters will also be deciding in April whether to increase the amount of time a person can spend on the council. A proposal to extend the limitation from two four-year terms to three will be on the ballot.

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

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