Laura Rosenthal comes out on top in the Malibu City Council race. As of Tuesday night, Lou La Monte was ahead of John Mazza by 53 votes.
By Laura Tate / Editor
In a close race that pitted the unofficial slate of education activist Laura Rosenthal and television producer Lou La Monte against businessmen John Mazza and Steve Scheinkman, Rosenthal clearly came out on top winning one of two open seats on the Malibu City Council Tuesday night.
As the final precinct counts came in, Rosenthal had the most votes at 1,607. La Monte was the second highest vote getter Tuesday night with 1,235 votes. However, with 126 provisional ballots and 133 absentee ballots left to count, he could not be officially declared a winner. Mazza was only 53 votes behind La Monte, with 1,182 votes in his favor. The remaining votes were to be counted on Wednesday. Final results will be posted online at www.malibutimes.com.
Asked what she thought of her win, Rosenthal said, “It means that Malibu families want to be represented in the council and that they’re becoming a stronger voice. It also means woman power.”
Rosenthal was the sole female of the 10 candidates.
Mazza, who is a vice chair of the Planning Commission, ran on a slate with Scheinkman, a newcomer to the political scene, who received 1,083 votes.
Attorney Michael Sidley, also a newcomer to Malibu’s political scene, followed the top four vote getters Tuesday with 516 votes. Yacht salesman Ed Gillespie, whose huge political sign on a building at Cross Creek shopping plaza garnered much notice and criticism, received 230 votes. Harold Greene, a semi-retired workman’s comp attorney, came in with 157 votes, record producer Kofi at 162, and Matthew Katz, a former music and producer, got 90 votes. Jan Swift came in last with 60 votes.
This is the first time since 1990 that there were no incumbents in the race. Mayor Sharon Barovsky and Councilmember Andy Stern were not eligible to run because of the city’s term limits law.
The final outcome of this race will determine the political balance of the council. Rosenthal and La Monte had the backing of the sitting council majority, and the opposition to this majority, led by Steve Uhring and Ozzie Silna, endorsed Mazza and Scheinkman.
This city council race has been mild compared to past ones, with nearly all candidates behaving cordially at public town hall forums and debates, and most agreeing on the major issue facing the city, such as the septic ban proposed by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, pollution of Malibu’s watershed and the proposed overnight camping plan for Malibu’s parks by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Rosenthal and La Monte, however, differed with candidates Sidley and Scheinkman on the city’s financial condition. The latter two have complained that the city made poor financial decisions in the purchasing of the Malibu Performing Arts Center and its reducing rent for the Malibu Lumber Yard owners. Rosenthal has defended the city by pointing out Malibu’s top-level credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, something shared by only 14 cities in California.
La Monte said at a March debate, “I don’t think the city is in as bad financial shape as everyone is trying to make you believe it is.”
He praised the city hall purchase, stating, “Most of you own your homes. The reason we own our homes is so we don’t have to rent. We’ve been renting a city hall since we became a city. And I think it’s time we grew up and had our own city hall. And we’re doing that.”
Rosenthal, 55, who is a clinical psychologist, has said her top priorities are cleaning up Malibu’s watershed, and the conservation and recycling of water, and addressing the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Malibu Parks Plan, as well as the city’s view ordinance.
La Monte, who sits on the Public Works Commission with Rosenthal, has said his top priorities are traffic safety, eliminating pollution that Malibu contributes to the city’s watersheds, and developing a “fair and balanced view ordinance.”