Candidates for mayor and three city council districts spoke to residents at a packed forum hosted by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce at City Hall on Monday afternoon.
The free forum began at 1 p.m. and was followed by a reception where candidates could mingle with residents.
During the forum, each candidate had two minutes to present an opening argument. Additionally, the candidates were all asked at least seven questions, and each candidate had one minute to answer each question. Candidates were also given a minute to give a closing statement.
District 1 candidates Kim Fine, Jeff Ginsburg, Jim Light and Dianne Prado spoke first; District 2 candidates Councilman Bill Brand, Michael Jackson and Susan Kowalski spoke second; mayor candidates Eric Coleman and councilmen Steve Aspel, Pat Aust and Matt Kilroy spoke third; and District 4 candidates Stephen Sammarco, Jan Jeffreys and Julian Stern spoke fourth.
City Attorney Mike Webb, who is running unopposed for reelection, was called away and unable to present his prepared remarks at the event.
Below is the Patch live blog of the event. Entries are in chronological order. Please excuse any typos or misspellings of names!
1:03 p.m.: Charles Gale, the immediate past chair of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, will moderate today's discussion. He thanks the Chamber sponsors.
He says the candidates will introduce themselves, then will have one minute apiece to answer six questions. They will also get a minute for closings.
Kimberly Fine is first.
She says she's a home and business owner in "rebuild public safety, revitalize local businesses and fulfill the will of the voters." Her big issue is public safety—she says with 84 officers, Redondo Beach is below average in the number of officers for a city its size.
She also mentions her fight against the sewer tax increase. "I learned many decisions at city hall are based on what's easiest, not what is right or what is fair," she says. She also notes she won't accept "taxpayer-funded fringe benefits."
She says she has a "track record of success bringing differing opinions to common ground." She does not see this as a stepping-stone to higher office.
1:06 p.m.: "Your choice for councilman is critical," says Jim Light. The first issue he brings up is the power plant and development in the harbor. "Will we allow cookie-cutter commercial development to destroy our quaint seaside charm?"
He notes he started fighting for balanced development since 2002 with the Heart of the City controversy, and that he's the co-author of Measures DD and A, "which gives us the only chance to stop a power plant from being built."
He's a former military officer. "I've demonstrated my commitment to our quality of life in Redondo," he says.
1:08 p.m.: Jeff Ginsburg, a small-business owner in District 1, introduces his family. "I'm the candidate who will build consensus in the community on the tough issues, bring people together and move our city forward to get things done," he says.
He's been involved in the city and Riviera Village Business Improvement District for years, and he notes some of his accomplishments in Riviera Village.
"My goal is to use my skills to help our city work more efficiently … without sacrificing public safety," he says.
1:09 p.m.: Dianne Prado says the "political atmosphere needs to change."
"I want to inspire people … to be able to get involved," she says, though she still wants to win. "It takes passion, dedication and courage."
She wants to ask the Chamber of Commerce if there's a conflict of interest to promote tourism yet allow AES to be a platinum sponsor.
1:14 p.m.: Gale notes that candidates should not interrupt each other or attack each other personally.
First question: Why are you running?
"I think we've got a jewel in the rough here, and I think we've gone the wrong way … giving up to developers," says Light. City council should "set the vision," then attract compatible development.
"I just love the city of Redondo Beach," says Ginsburg. He says the city is divided, and he knows he can help bring change.
Prado says that after law school, she got more involved in attending protests and researching issues—and she realized politicians were making promises but not following through: "I think it's important to get involved in local politics. I don't want to be that cookie cutter politician … I want to change things."
"I'm an everyday person who wants to make a difference in her city," says Fine. "I saw what can happen when city council doesn't listen to the community. I don't want to see Redondo Beach become anything other than the gem I know it can be." City council will give her a bigger voice.
1:17 p.m.: Question: Do you support the Riviera Village BID, where businesses tax themselves to pay for improvements?
Ginsburg says yes. "The village needed improvements and was crying for some change over there," he says. He notes that it was one of the first BIDs in the city, and it brought together the business owners in Riviera Village. "It's turned out to be a very good thing for the Riviera Village."
Prado says she doesn't know much about the BID, but because it was the business owners' decision, it's probably good. She's worried about new business owners who didn't have a choice—it's hard for new businesses to start up.
Fine agrees with Prado. "I do applaud (the biz owners) to generate the revenue that they need to put the village in the direction they want it to go," she says, though she notes new businesses should have a voice.
"What I've seen through Riviera Village is an improvement since the BID has started, so in general I'm in favor of the BID," says Light. He says some business owners don't like the politics involved, but overall, it's had a positive impact and he would support it.
1:21 p.m.: Question: City revenues come from city businesses. Which business issues would you focus on to promote business success & job creation?
It's important to encourage small-business growth, says Prado. A five-year plan for small businesses might work, especially if they pay lower taxes. She wants to assist small business owners.
"I believe the small businesses in Redondo Beach are really the greatest source of revenue for Redondo Beach," says Fine. She says the city should make it easier for new businesses to get established, and that people at city hall should be more accessible to help new business owners.
"I believe the city has a role in attracting quality businesses and the right kind of businesses that become a root for businesses to feed off of," says Light. The city should explore incentives to attract other businesses. He mentions sequestration and the potential move of the Los Angeles Air Force Base—without both, it could be trouble for the city.
"What attracts small business is customers," says Ginsburg. He says parking issues have contributed to lack of customers, so he's pushing for a shuttle service from the hotels. People should also ride bikes to the village.
1:25 p.m.: Question: The city budget is becoming more constrained. How would you focus your spending priorities?
Fine says she wants time to "sit with the budget and look it over." She mentions that there is salary for 90 police officers, but the city only has 84, and wonders if the money was spent elsewhere. She doesn't want to "throw good money after bad." She says she sees places where the city has gone over budget, and instead of 'having the courage to say wait, we need to do something different, they go forward."
Light says he would hold city staff more accountable for their jobs and do less outsourcing. Additionally, he would prioritize items that focus on business growth to improve revenue.
"I believe that our city compared to a lot of cities is actually doing very, very well right now, which is great," says Ginsburg, but he adds that Redondo has fewer officers than it should. "Instead of always saving money, there are other ways of making money." He wants the city to become more efficient, and uses the LED street lighting as an example.
Prado says she agrees with almost everyone with promoting business growth and revitalizing business; however, the community itself should prosper. If residents have more money, they can spend more in the community. "If the community and the people are taken care of, then that reflects as a whole and is able to put more revenue out there."
1:29 p.m.: Question: The power plant question—is Measure A the right solution?
Light (of course) says yes. He's the co-author of Measure A. "We don't need power from that site … why invest $150-200 million in our harbor and rebuild a blighting influence in our harbor?" he asks. "It's a lose-lose for our community." Measure A is "fair" and the "best thing for the waterfront revitalization."
"The power plant is the complicated one on the books today. There's no question about it. Personally, I don't want a power plant in my backyard," says Ginsburg. However, the plant was there long before the housing and everything else, and there's "land use rights, issues … that really prevail on this … the right thing to do is respect landowner rights," he says.
Prado comes out in support of Measure A. "I think that Jim Light has done a fantastic job," she says. She addresses concerns about legal issues and notes that Light held a forum on legal issues related to Measure A. "I think everyone's scared of fighting huge corporations," she says.
"It's true, none of us want a power plant in our backyard, and I really feel that my views on this don't matter. As a councilperson I will honor the vote of the people on Measure A," she says. She says she sees both sides of the issue. "Is it the right thing? It's something, and it's a start. It's getting people thinking." She says she stands "where the majority stands."
1:33 p.m.: Question: What is the most important regional issue facing our community?
Ginsburg says citywide, public safety has been a concern. He wants everyone to feel safe.
Prado notes that Redondo Beach's crime rate has stayed the same over the past two years. She's a civil rights and housing rights attorney. She encourages people to take part in the Jan. 30 homeless census count. "Another huge issue is the power plant. We can't hide about it," she says. It affects all Redondo Beach. "I've never had a friend tell me that they want to come see the power plant in Redondo Beach."
It's definitely public safety for Fine, who notes she earned endorsements from public safety organizations. She says it's a domino affect—if people are scared of shopping at the Galleria, they won't spend money there and the city won't get the revenue. "The types of crimes have changed, and they're getting more severe," she says.
Light says AES is the biggest regional issue. His second vote is on sequestration and the possible loss of L.A. AFB because it would drive down property values. "The city should invest some time & effort in fighting sequestration & fighting to keep L.A. Air Force Base."
1:37 p.m.: Question: Do you believe we have a traffic problem in Redondo Beach?
"I think if we've all driven down PCH, we'll know that there is a huge amount of traffic down PCH," Prado says. She lives near Pearl and Pacific Coast Highway. The crosswalk is not safe, she says.
Fine says she would recommend synchronizing the lights on Pacific Coast Highway. (Editor's note: I think the lights are synchronized in Redondo on Pacific Coast Highway, at least in some places.) If you drive the speed limit with synchronized lights, it’s smooth sailing. Speeding can create traffic.
"Eighty-three percent of Redondo workers commute outside the city and I think we need to fix that," says Light. He also says the right kind of development and the right kind of businesses will ease traffic congestion. He recommends cutouts for bus stops, too.
Ginsburg encourages people to use their bicycles and Beach Cities Transit to commute. "We've got this large bus going back-and-forth, but there's no one on it," he comments. He wants to see more bike lanes and incentives for employers to get their employees to ride their bikes, walk or take the bus. He thinks it would "make a big difference" with traffic.
1:39 p.m.: Question: What is the council's role in engaging the school board to solve problems?
Fine says it's important to work with the school board and not be shortsighted. The council should listen to the school board. "We have an idea of what the school board needs, but the school board really knows what they need most," she says.
"This area's a passion of mine," says Light. He wants a partnership between the city council and the school board to incentivize kids to get good jobs and bring good jobs back to Redondo. He says he wants to meet with the school board and talk about it. He says he sees a division regarding the Knob Hill property.
"We need a much better partnership with the school board," says Ginsburg. He doesn't understand why it's not better than it is, but his skill is bringing people together. "It's needed and there's no reason that we operate separately."
Prado says they need to foster a relationship and build a partnership. "To have a friction between what is the city council and the school board really doesn't make sense," she says. "Our schools are our kids and that's our future."
1:44 p.m.: Closing statements!
"I think Redondo is at a crossroads," says Light. But people can choose a "different path" that leads to the "rejuvenation of Redondo Beach." He wants people to vote for him.
Ginsburg thanks all the attendees and prioritizes public safety. He will continue encouraging Riviera Village "to ensure the Village will remain our Mayberry." He wants to develop environmentally conscious policies and be supportive of seniors and business community, among others. He aims to be accessible and responsive to people's concerns. On Measure A, he says he will support what the people vote for. Prado says, "I'm tired of the same old politicking and the no change." She thinks you have to take a stand on an issue to get your voice out there. "You may not like me, you may love me, but I think that … 'Well behaved women seldom make history,'" she says, quoting a bumper sticker on her car.
"Admittedly, I may not be the most eloquent candidate up here," says Fine. "I've taken myself outside my comfort zone to be here." She says she's completely comfortable with running for city council and serving the community. She will work to restore public safety numbers, revitalize businesses and fulfill the will of voters. She wants Redondo Beach to be "the place it can be."
And that's the end of the District 1 forum!
2:03 p.m.: Time for District 2! Mike Morales of Harmony Works will moderate. Like in the District 1 forum, candidates will get a two-minute opening statement, one minute to respond to each question and a one-minute closing statement.
Michael Jackson, a 20-year resident of Redondo Beach and small-business owner, is first. He thanks the Chamber of Commerce. "I understand the challenges facing local businesses" and large companies, he says. He's the chairman of the Harbor Commission, chair-elect of the Chamber, and involved in other organizations. The city needs to get back to its principal mission: public safety, attracting businesses, fixing potholes and helping residents. "We are not Newport Beach. We are not Santa Monica. We are not Marina del Rey. We are Redondo Beach," he says. Most importantly, he wants to restore balance and common sense in city government.
2:05 p.m.: Councilman Bill Brand is the incumbent. He points to what's been accomplished in the "worst economy since the Great Depression"—pension reform, waterfront redevelopment and more. His primary focus "will be to lead the waterfront revitalization" and "permanent retirement of the power plant." He calls "Measure A more important than my campaign and anyone else's." And now he talks about Measure A, noting that three power plants have been retired on the California coast because of public opinion.
He gives more details on Measure A. (For complete coverage, visit our AES Redondo Beach power plant debate page.)
2:07 p.m.: Susan Kowalski is also a 20-year resident of the community. "I'm not a politician, I'm a member of the community just like you," she says, adding that she's also a small-business owner. She talks about her work as an advocate, a member of Sandpipers, and more. "I'm committed to this community. I feel like I'm a voice for you," she says.
2:10 p.m.: Question: Why are you running?
"I started on this path in local politics in 2001, when I bought a house and started paying attention to local politics," says Brand. He talks about his work against Heart of the City, Measure DD. "I just flowed right into running for city council ... I see the incredible opportunity we have in Redondo Beach going forward."
Kowalski says she's been considering running for council "for a long time." "I think this is an honor to be able to serve your community and represent the people in District 2 ... and it's been a pleasure meeting people, walking the walk ... and I feel like I could do a great job for you."
"I want to restore balance and common sense in city government," says Jackson. "The nastiness of the past few years needs to end." He says he's a centrist, and the council should start from the middle. "Politics is not an all-or-nothing game." He says, "whether you like each other or not, whether you agree with each other or not," you have to work together.
2:13 p.m.: Question: Waterfront revitalization—what do you hope or expect to come out of this effort?
Kowalski says she's "delighted" with the executives at CenterCal. She thinks getting everything "signed, sealed and delivered" by March is rushing it—there should be more time for community input. "I see it having a lot more character, a little bit more farmers market-feel, a little bit more Seattle Pike Market feel," she says.
Jackson agrees. He talks about the Redondo Landing, Harbor Patrol building, Moonstone Park improvements. "We don't need big-box, Newport Beach-style activities coming into this harbor," he says. Local businesses should be given the highest priority and be integrated into the waterfront.
Brand wants a revitalized Redondo Beach waterfront. "We've been through this long process, and we're at a great point now where everyone's moving as one," says Brand. He also says that the city council does work well together, contrary to Jackson's earlier statement. Brand looks forward to working with CenterCal.
2:17 p.m.: Question: Is Measure A the right solution for the AES site?
Jackson says Measure A will not shut down the power plant—it only rezones the land. "No one wants a power plant in their backyard ... but it's there," he says. The city should respect property rights and the state's process, and it should work with the California Energy Commission.
Brand says the CEC won't determine need unless the property is rezoned, a la Measure A. He notes three other power plants were retired along the coast. "There is no compromise here with AES. They want a power plant," he said. "To sit down and compromise with them and allow a power plant is really just a capitulation."
"I agree with Michael that nobody wants a power plant in their backyard," says Kowalski. "Measure A is not the way. I believe that we can negotiate instead of legislate." She says she's given the issue a lot of thought, and she encourages people to "not vote yes for Measure A."
2:20 p.m.: Question: How would you increase city revenues?
Businesses and property taxes provide the highest revenues, says Brand. He notes that AES depresses property values, which depresses property taxes the city receives. The city should work with businesses to increase revenues. "It's a matter of listening to businesses," he says.
Kowalski says AES spends $7 million per year operating, but not all in Redondo Beach—so will this revenue leave if the power plant is gone? "When we bought our properties here ... there was a power plant there," she says.
Jackson says, "The last thing you do when the economic times are hard, is you look to the revenue side ... We can't spend our way out of government spending." He says staff should be reduced, but maintaining the aerospace industries in the South Bay is essential.
2:23 p.m.: Question: What role should the city take in business attraction and retention?
Kowalski says it should be a priority, and it's a marketing tool. "I think all of Redondo Beach could group together to help promote Redondo Beach, and I do believe the city can be a part of that in mostly marketing aspect."
"The city needs to be a better partner with business," says Jackson. Merchants and tenants should be treated equally—month-to-month leases should be extended. The L.A. AFB needs to stay in the South Bay. "As a policy maker, we must be at the table when those meetings start to happen during the next round of base closures."
Brand says the city should have friendly regulations that don't burden new businesses. He notes trash fees were reduced. "It's really about the city infrastructure—there's a lot of things," he says. "You have to have business as a focus." Small things like making the city more bicycle friendly and providing more parking will help.
2:25 p.m.: Question: What is the most important regional issue facing our community?
"Jobs and the economy, period," says Jackson. "The private sector fuels the economy. Government doesn't. Government supports the economy." He says businesses should be attracted, but protecting LA AFB from closure is his No. 1 priority.
Redondo Beach can have the biggest impact on air quality by shutting down AES Redondo, says Brand. "A new power plant, while more efficient, is going to increase particulate emissions 5-15x because it will run more often."
Kowalski says attracting and retaining business, as well as attracting people that will sustain the businesses, is the No. 1 issue. "I don't see the Westsiders or the Hermosa Beach people or the Manhattan Beach people to come to us, and I think that would be a great community goal to get our neighbors to come visit us," she says.
2:28 p.m.: Question: Do you believe we have a traffic problem in Redondo Beach?
"We definitely have a traffic problem," says Brand. He points to the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, parking, and public transportation. Synchronization of lights can have a big impact. "It's just something I've kept an eye on ... there's not one big solution to that, that's for sure."
Kowalski says she doesn't see traffic as being a huge issue in the scheme of things. She loves Beach Cities Transit, and teaching people how to use it "would be phenomenal. Every man, woman and child should be able to ride the bus," she says.
"Clearly, the biggest problem that we have is a.m./p.m. traffic along PCH," Jackson says. "All we can do is work with Caltrans and their traffic ops staff to make sure that we have a seat at the table ... Certainly, synchronization of lights is a huge issue." He points to an east/west problem on Diamond Street between 7:45 and 8 a.m. with the high school.
2:31 p.m.: Question: What role does the council have in engaging the school board to solve problems?
Kowalski hasn't considered it, but communication is key to everything, she says.
Jackson says relationships should be restored with the council and the school board, especially now that funding is
"When I first got onto the council, it was pretty contentious," says Brand. "There's really been quite a sea change in the last couple of years, and it's very encouraging to see." He says the dialogue has opened up, and the two entities are collaborating more.
2:34 p.m.: Closing statements.
Jackson thanks the Chamber for hosting this. He reiterates his "balance and common sense" theme. "We need to have a councilman who will represent ... all 14,000 residents," he says, referencing Brand's attention on the power plant.
"This has been a lively debate," says Brand. "I hate to keep harping on it, but the biggest issue in Redondo right now is the power plant. ... What's before you now is critical, and it's not about compromise." He says Measure A honors AES' property rights and gives them significant economic value.
Kowalski also thanks the Chamber. "I want to remind you all that I'm just like you. I'm a resident here. I'm a citizen. I'm not a politician, and I've got a lot to learn," she says.
2:46 p.m.: Rules for the mayoral forum are the same.
Current District 5 Councilman Matt Kilroy is first. "Redondo needs a mayor who invests time, analyzing an issue from many points of view," he says. He notes that he builds relationships with people, showing them respect. Kilroy says he's testified in front of the regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Energy Commission. "I am the only candidate to take a position against Measure A ... I have staunchly supported our schools," he says. "I'm the only candidate to oppose a fee for paramedic service."
2:48 p.m.: Current District 1 Councilman Steve Aspel is next. "I bring people together; I try to build consensus," he says. "My experience as a successful small business owner ... I balance a budget, I can set priorities and set goals, and I believe that results are way more important than just talk."
He says his commitment to leadership and the community will move the city forward. He aims to continue renovations on the Esplanade and Artesia Boulevard, and continue the revitalization of King Harbor and the Redondo Beach Pier. He will continue work toward clean and safe streets. "I will work to fulfill the will of the voters, though I'm not supporting Measure A," he says. "I will continue to celebrate our city's history and everything like that ... and by the way, I will continue to fix your potholes and have your trees trimmed."
2:50 p.m.: District 3 Councilman Pat Aust is running for mayor, possibly the only job he hasn't held in the city. (Just kidding!) He notes that regardless what happens, he'll still be on the council for at least two years. He lists his qualifications—44 years of continuous experience working for the city of Redondo Beach, including as the fire chief. "In those 44 years, I learned a lot about this city—what worked, what didn't work," he says.
During his 30 years of coming to council meetings, he saw "a lot of the things that were tried and tried and tried again." "I'm famous for the fact that my council constituents say, 'Well, if you challenge him he'll bring out the pictures and he'll bring out the reports.'"
"I will continually work to make this a better place," he says.
2:52 p.m.: Eric Coleman is the only candidate who is not a current councilman.
He was an editorial cartoonist for the Easy Reader, High Tide and the Union at El Camino College. He's traveled all over (and produced a play about managing a shop in Chicago!)
"I think we need to move beyond this myopic approach to things while addressing the elephants in the room," he says. "Is a $200 million revitalization project just another deal that will strip the pier of its character? ... Is it 'Redondo Beach or Recondo Beach'?" His goal is to "ban the ban." (And I'm sure he's going to post his entire opening remarks on his website, since I was unable to act as a transcriptionist.)
2:56 p.m.: Question: Why are you running?
Kilroy said he looked at the possible candidates and "realized I had something to offer." He says he's endorsed by three of the current school board members, a former board member and the three school board member-elects. He's worked with many community organizations as well as taught in the city.
"I'm not a very good politician, but I am a people person," says Steve Aspel. He got interested in local politics when he served on the planning commission. "Because of some health issues, I wasn't going to run for mayor but my wife ... and my two daughters talked me into it a few months ago." He has no vision to run for any higher elected office.
"I've committed 98 percent of my adult life so far to making Redondo Beach a better place to work and play," says Aust. He hopes that his career will be his endorsement. "I couldn't list all the people that help me because it's such a long list ... This is my life. I want to continue to be your mayor."
Coleman is not a lawyer or someone who has ties to real estate. "I think the residents of Redondo is sick and tired of being nickeled and dimed by the city," he says. He is very unhappy with permits and fees. "I think the residents are sick of this kind of thing."
3 p.m.: Question: What is the role of the mayor, since he is a nonvoting member of the council?
Aspel says the mayor gives direction and leadership. He would give his opinion on a staff report first. "The mayor doesn't have a vote; only has a veto." But, the mayor can work with staff to implement changes and help speed things through the city. "It's a leadership role to work with staff, meet with citizens and just try to build a consensus so the people here aren't afraid to go to city hall."
"The mayor is the face of the city of Redondo Beach," says Aust. The mayor and the city manager set the agenda for council meetings. "He doesn't get to vote, but he does get to veto—and it takes four votes to override a mayor's veto ... he's a pivotal person on what happens (in) our meetings."
Coleman agrees with Aust. "I think the mayor's position is pretty important and symbolic," he says, adding the mayor should offer guidance. He also says Mayor Mike Gin should have used the veto power against the leaf-blower ban... on Sundays.
Kilroy says the mayor is the one person who represents all of Redondo Beach, so he should take a leadership position on issues that affect the city, e.g. unfunded mandates. He should also take a leadership position in the local community, such as Kilroy has done on Measure A.
3:05 p.m.: What role would you play to keep the L.A. AFB here?
Aust says he's already taken leadership in that area. The first time, they were able to save it. "Now, we have to save it," he emphasizes. "You don't just move it to South Dakota and save money ... They can't save money because the technical experts are here. They've been here since the '50s."
"I think if we lose the Air Force Base, we're going to hear a giant sucking sound all throughout Redondo," says Coleman. He says Redondo will probably end up suing the AFB for leaving... and ties this to Nordstrom's announcement that it will leave the Galleria. "Are we going to declare war on Torrance? ... I just don't understand why the city is so litigious."
Kilroy says he and Aspel traveled to D.C. to meet with leaders and impressed the importance of the AFB upon Rep. Henry Waxman. "We've already been proactive, I've been proactive, with regards to making sure L.A. Air Force Base stays here," he says.
Redondo has spent lots of time working to keep the AFB in the South Bay, says Aspel. "It's not a matter of losing jobs to Topeka, Kansas ... It's a matter of national security," he says, noting that sequestration comes up every 10 years, and Redondo always fights to keep the base. "I think we've shown an ability to do that, and I will continue to go do that."
3:09 p.m.: Question: Do you support Measure A?
"Yes on Measure A," says Coleman. He's talking way too fast again. He calls AES a "propaganda machine."
"Measure A is not the solution we need here in Redondo Beach," says Kilroy. He says he's the only councilman who supported a resolution opposing the new power plant. "There's numerous problems with it, including the fact that it uses spot zoning." He says it's not compatible with the zoning across the street. "It's the wrong way to go about moving the power plant from this location."
Aspel does not support Measure A, either. He says Heart of the City would have phased out the power plant. "I don't want Measure A because I don't think there's enough meat on the bone to give AES enough critical mass to move," he says. "I don't know if and when the money for a park will ever come to fruition." He doesn't think Measure A is suitable for the city, and he doesn't think the citizens of Redondo want to subsidize a parkland.
"From the beginning, I've been very much in favor of the people having a vote on the future of the power plant," Aust says. One of the times he asked for a referendum, Gin vetoed it. Aust says he's against a zoning initiative. "Measure A is a 30-page document full of ambiguity that is contradictory to itself ... it is not good law for our city. It is not what we need," he says.
3:09 p.m.: "Thank goodness we're done with that one," says the moderator.
3:14 p.m.: Question: How would you increase city revenues?
Kilroy says the city is working to increase revenue by encouraging business and development in areas like North Redondo Beach. "You need to make sure you have a safe city," he says. Is this an allusion to the stabbing at the Galleria? "If you foster good business sense in the city, we will get the revenue from it."
Aspel says the current council has done a good job of attracting businesses. He points to the harbor revitalization, the new hotels in North Redondo, and the new Shade Hotel. He says the city has streamlined permit processes, though a lot has to do with parking issues that must be fixed. "We're working really hard to bring in all kinds of business."
"We absolutely have to do the revitalization efforts that we're not putting into place," Aust says. "We're not just trimming to the bone, we're going through the bone at this point. We're talking about amputation." He says the city needs revenue from businesses so the citizens don't pay for everything through taxes.
"Undo the street festival freeze," says Coleman, pointing out that people could come from all over to attend such festivals. "If we built a hotel on (the AES) land," the city could make a lot more money. "We have to spend money to make money."
3:17 p.m.: Question: What is the most important regional issue?
Aspel says it's the AFB, as much as people will say AES. He calls the base "the heart and soul of the aerospace industry in this region." "We have to just spend time lobbying and traveling to Washington, D.C. to make sure that we are not on the sequestration list about closing that thing," he says. AES is second.
Aust agrees, though he says the economy and healthcare are also top issues. "There's a lot of regional issues that need to be conquered," he says.
"I think it's the pier revitalization or at least how we're focusing our efforts on one part of Redondo," Coleman says. He claims CenterCal got its contract in violation of the city charter. "A $200 million price tag to this whole affair is almost sure to raise the rent ... and price out the locals." He says the local residents should have a vote.
Kilroy agrees with his fellow councilmen, but the city needs to look into increased costs to employee benefits and unfunded mandates. The South Bay needs a vibrant economy, and the AFB needs to stay. Business in general should be supported.
3:27 p.m.: Closing statements.
"We share a common goal: it's a clear consensus. If we're going to redo Redondo, let's do it right," says Coleman. He points to lawyers, bureaucrats and real estate agents... yet the people sharing the dais with him are a retired fire chief, a teacher and an insurance agent. "A vote for Coleman is a complete waste of time—if you believe in the status quo," he says.
"I am a teacher in the city of Redondo Beach," Kilroy says. He lists his tenure on local committees and organizations. He will continue to dedicate himself to improving the quality of life in Redondo Beach.
Aspel thanks everyone for "putting up with us this afternoon." He says he's "fairly successful for a guy with six units in college." He emphasizes his open-door policy with his monthly community meetings. He aims for transparency, using tax dollars wisely. "I am an honest guy, believe it or not, and I have integrity and all those things," he says. He also says, to laughter, that he can still work with Kilroy and Aust.
"For 44 years, my full-time job has been improving the city of Redondo Beach. Building a better Redondo is something I started when I was 20 years old," Aust says. He wants to continue serving Redondo Beach. "I think that you need a public safety professional—someone who's been doing this his entire life."
3:53 p.m.: Finally, District 4’s turn. The moderator (whose name I didn't catch) introduces herself, thanks the sponsors and reiterates the rules.
Stephen Sammarco is first. It takes him a moment to remember Julian Stern's name. He begins his statement by listing his endorsements and says he won't accept the city's healthcare package if he's elected. "I believe in public school systems," he says. He learned his work ethic at the family blueberry farm. He moved to the South Bay 22 years ago to get a master's in public administration with a focus on public finance. He moved to Redondo in 2004. "We now have two children who both attend public school systems in Redondo Beach." He has a public affairs firm on Artesia Boulevard. He enjoys volunteering at kids' schools. He's out of time, but it takes him a bit to notice.
3:59 p.m.: Jan Jeffreys thanks people watching in their homes on television—but the event isn't being livestreamed. (It will be available on the Chamber of Commerce website later, though.) She was appointed to the Library Commission, and she enjoys the North Brand Library. She describes her background and education. She moved to the South Bay in the mid-'80s. "My people skills allow me to work efficiently and easily," she says.
4 p.m.: "My name is Julian Stern and I'm running for council because I love Redondo Beach," says Stern. He wants to improve quality of life and the economy.
"I've been eyeing this seat for eight years," he says. His 18th birthday is in 5 days. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to represent you."
He says residents' input is critical, and he would depend on it. "I represent a new voice—the voice of the future of Redondo Beach," he says.
4:03 p.m.: Question: Why are you running for council?
"I'm running for Redondo Beach City Council because I want to make a difference," Sammarco says. He's running on a public safety platform. He will "prioritize public safety every day, not just on election day."
Jeffreys emphasizes her "extensive amount of community service." She's "very concerned about safety" and says the community needs to get more involved with the CERT program. "I have the education, the experience ... and I really feel that I can contribute and maintain what the city has done. It's a fabulous city and we need to just keep nurturing it along."
"I have a strong desire to bring the needs of my neighbors before the council," says Stern. He says it will be the best way to support his neighbors.
4:05 p.m.: Now that Nordstrom is leaving, how will you help the Galleria maintain its role in Redondo Beach?
"It was a surprise to all of us—it was a shock—when we first heard about Nordstrom," says Jeffreys. She points out the opening of Nordstrom Rack—she wonders if it was a strategy that the company had planned. "I plan to work very closely with the people, management, at the Galleria ... They're our major revenue and we need to protect that as best we can."
"The Galleria is a private enterprise and they want someone there just as much as we do," says Stern. He says he's confident that Forest City will find a new, excellent tenant. "At the end of the day, they'll take care of it and I'll be there to help them out."
Sammarco says the city is not paying its cost share for police officers at the Galleria, "which basically left the mall without any police." He says taking care of the mall's security would be his first priority.
4:08 p.m.: Question: What would you like to see on Artesia Boulevard?
"I like what I'm seeing right now," says Stern. His family has two businesses in District 4, and he wants to see them (and all others) grow. He wants the city to help businesses more. "I'd like to make zoning and gaining permits easier for those small businesses on Artesia."
Sammarco disagrees with Stern. He says Artesia Boulevard should institute a business improvement district. He says safety on Artesia, such as security cameras or call boxes, should be prioritized.
"I believe that Artesia Boulevard is a gold mine, only we haven't really dug for it," says Jeffreys. She says the NRBBA is doing "great things." She wants to make the process for businesses—especially Mom & Pops—more streamlined.
4:11 p.m.: Question: Do you support Measure A?
"I think the day of power plants in bedroom communities are long gone," says Sammarco. He's concerned about Measure A, though. "We are, in essence, rezoning this land to take it away from AES." He's against Measure A.
"It's the prime topic," says Jeffreys. She says she's been reading and hearing a lot about the ballot measure. She wants to hear more about the anti-Measure A "side of the coin," she says. She called AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft and hasn't heard back. In the audience, Pendergraft gives a slight grimace. Jeffreys is leaning toward supporting Measure A, she says.
Stern says he's taking a tour of AES Redondo Beach tomorrow. He doesn't like Measure A's zoning breakdown. "(My neighbors) don't want to pay for a park in District 2 ... it's a money pit," he says. He is open to the possibility of not having a power plant.
4:13 p.m.: Question: What is the city council's role in engaging the school board to solve mutual problems?
Jeffreys says the council and the school board should "work hand-in-hand." She says she's confident that she has firsthand knowledge about what goes on in the school district.
"A strong relationship with the school board is necessary," says Stern. He says he's attended RBUSD schools; however, he currently attends Environmental Charter High School.
"I not only agree—I live by that motto," says Sammarco. He is the Madison Elementary School Santa Claus. He's done volunteer work at Birney and Madison, and he "believes strongly in a school-city council relationship."
4:16 p.m.: Question: How would you help businesses succeed?
"I would like to see the city stay on the track of being more and more business friendly," says Stern. He wants to see more tax money stay in the city—only 18 cents per dollar stays in the city. He wants to lobby state and federal officials about that and unfunded mandates.
Jeffreys concurs. "Business is the mainstay of our tax base," she says. "Business is the key. We don't want to overburden our residents with additional taxes, so to encourage business—new business, tourism, visitors, the hotels, the revitalization of the waterfront is just a wonderful thing."
"It's no secret that my goal is to put more police on the street," Sammarco says. He wants to regionalize SWAT—Redondo Beach's team has been called three times this year and Hermosa Beach has gotten rid of it—and use the money saved for more police.
4:19 p.m.: Question: How would you improve public transit?
Sammarco says the city came away with nothing when AES rebuilt their power plant... but that hasn't been decided yet. He says he would have made AES operate a trolley car.
Jeffreys says it's a great question. "Right now, in my district, we have a bus," she says, emphasizing Beach Cities Transit Line 109. She wants to encourage people to use Beach Cities Transit.
"Public transit is extremely important to me," says Stern. He says he has a plan for public transit in District 4. He wants to break ground on the new center, and expand the BCT lines.
4:21 p.m.: Question: Does Redondo Beach have a traffic problem?
"Bottom line is, we live in Los Angeles. We're a major city. There's going to be traffic. We all know that," says Jeffreys. She says the city can streamline traffic, but it can't stop people from driving on PCH. People should take the bus.
Stern says he can't complain about traffic, but he supposes it is an issue. The concerns of the residents should be kept in mind, and he supports public transit and the bicycle master plan.
Sammarco has a different opinion of traffic as a business owner: "I like traffic. Traffic means people with wallets and people looking to buy things." He wants to see more business traffic.
4:24 p.m.: One minute for closing arguments per candidate.
"I hope you picked up on my honest, and my vision, and that I will have an unfaltering commitment to the city," says Stern. He emphasizes transparency, efficiency and responsiveness, as well as bringing and keeping businesses and jobs. He gives everyone his telephone number.
"Whether it's protecting a child or the elderly from abuse, quality of life starts with safer neighborhoods," Sammarco says. He wants to restore the police department. He says he has ideas on how to cut costs and improve services. "A good civil servant not only knows the facts, but he understands the will of the people."
Jeffreys summarizes her qualifications, starting with her tenure on the library commission. She says she has the education and business sense: "We cannot have policemen without profit." She says she has what it takes. She emphasizes that AES didn't pay their taxes when they moved in.
4:26 p.m.: Mike Webb will not be speaking as he was called away, says the moderator. The forum is over; now people have a chance to meet and mingle with the candidates.
For complete coverage, visit our guide to the 2013 Redondo Beach municipal elections.