Do you favor secession or not, and why?
Yes. If secession passes, I want to be a progressive, Democratic
voice at the table to ensure the progressive ordinances of Los Angeles
are carried forward to a new Valley city.
I want to help establish smaller, closer and more responsive
municipal government for all the people of the San Fernando Valley. For
decades, the Valley has been neglected in a variety of well-expressed
ways. I have experienced this neglect personally -- many times over the
years. I believe that we in the Valley can take better care of
ourselves, than a distant downtown bureaucracy can.
Supporters of a Valley city say local control will lead to more
efficient government, better services and higher quality of life. What
is your vision for an independent Valley city?
The Valley is an after-thought or occupies just minutes on downtown’s
agenda, when we deserve more.
I envision a city where dedicated council members and mayor report to
work each and every day, focusing on the long-neglected needs of this
Valley. Imagine how much stronger our neighborhoods will be when the
focus is on us!
A City where we control our own school district and our kids attend
clean, safe and modern schools, the type of public schools we once
attended. We owe our children that opportunity.
I have no doubt whatsoever that we can and will do extraordinarily
Critics say L.A. City Hall is out of touch with the public. What
steps do you have in mind for making the Valley city government more
accountable and responsive to the public?
A new Valley City will immediately reduce the size of council districts
by nearly 65%! But, we can do even more.
Since downtown resoundingly rejected a borough-type system for Los
Angeles, we should consider creating a system within the structure of
the Valley city. It will bring our smaller government even closer to the
Please describe the top priorities/goals/issues you would focus on
as an elected official in the Valley city. Give specific outcomes you
want to see accomplished. Specify up to six priorities/goals/issues.
- Repair Our Neglected Roads, Sidewalks
and Infrastructure: Two words – Burbank Boulevard.
- Protect Rent Control: I’ve signed the
Valley Independence pledge to protect rent control in the Valley city.
- Advocate for New Valley School
District: First Cityhood, then our own school district.
- Limit Growth of Burbank Airport -- add
Valley Seats on Airport Board: The airport authority wants to expand
regardless of what the public nearby wants. A new city will have more
clout in dealing with the airport.
- Invest in our own Police and Public
- Improve Valley City Services - More
Street Cleaning, Trash and Graffiti Removal - More Responsive City
Opponents of secession say running a brand-new city would be
difficult at best. What contribution will you supply to effective
governance of the new city, whether in terms of your experience,
leadership abilities, skills, knowledge, education, temperament or
Downtown would have us believe it takes magic to effectively run a city,
and we in the Valley don’t have what it takes to do so. It’s not
I’m a successful, self-made person and bring to the table common sense
values, a strong work ethic, a sense of fair play and a desire to serve
a region that has given me much.
Some fear an inexperienced city council composed of our own neighbors.
However, the new Council’s choosing of a qualified, experienced and
hard-working City Manager will ensure that the city runs smoothly and
Do you favor trying to contract with the city of Los Angeles to
continue providing as many public services as practical as long as
Valley service targets are met? Or do you prefer to contract with new
providers whenever possible?
Los Angeles has had a terrible record of providing services to us as
constituents. I can’t imagine how bad it will be after the
state-mandated transition period of one year. OR, how bad it will get if
we don’t pass Cityhood.
I’d prefer to see the Valley provide our own services. We can do it
better and cheaper.
What is your position on whether to maintain existing pay levels,
pensions and benefits for current municipal employees who begin working
for the new Valley city?
I believe that it is fair and honorable to maintain these levels for
employees who bargained for these benefits. Our savings will not be in
cutting the modest salaries and benefits of city workers, but in cutting
the obscene salaries paid to senior managers and department heads.
What are your views on the appropriate salary for Mayor and
council members of the new city? Specifically, what pay levels do you
support for the council and for the mayor?
Valley Vote has studied the issue carefully and I concur with what it
proposed to LAFCO: $75,000 a year for council members and $100,000 for
the mayor. This has been talked about and debated in the San Fernando
Valley community for some time now and I think the consensus is these
salaries are reasonable, given this city will become the nation’s sixth
largest and must have a full-time council to address its long-neglected
I might add that these proposed salaries are nearly 50% less than what
Los Angeles pays (the highest paid in the nation).
What do you consider the major issues facing the new cities of
San Fernando Valley and Hollywood? How would you solve those problems?
- Organizing and establishing the
basic core infrastructure of city services and government.
San Fernando Valley’s first and foremost
issue will be choosing or establishing its police and fire protection.
I believe this will rightly be a priority for the new Valley city
- Adoption of Rent Control.
The Valley must have a stock of stable, affordable rental housing.
Permanently enacting rent control in the new city is a priority for
nearly all, if not all Valley council candidates. I have signed the
Valley Independence Committee's Candidate pledge to enact permanent
rent control in the new valley city at our very first meeting.
- The Valley must also focus on
its public transportation needs and obtaining the funding for those
needs. Many of us in the
Valley can tell you, we feel public transportation needs in the Valley
have gone unmet; and spending on public transportation in the Valley
thus far has not been equitable.
- Burbank Airport’s existing
noise and expansion plans are a major issue facing the citizens of the
East San Fernando Valley.
Given its unique location, it affects the quality of life here.
- The current amount of commercial
flights serving Burbank each day from around 6:30am to 10:00pm is
manageable and a decent trade-off for the convenience of having an
alternative to LAX. BUT, only if the noise abatement area is expanded,
so that there are funds and grants available for those in need to
sound-proofing their homes. As
it stands now, the levels of noise are unacceptable in areas that fall
outside the current noise-abatement boundaries.
- I wish to have San Fernando
Valley representation on the airport board,
it’s only fair that those affected, have a say.
- Quality of life, city
infrastructure and cultural resources need to be attended to.
Years of neglect have left parts of the Valley with crumbling roads
and sidewalks. Many areas of the Valley have no streetlights or
- An end to the current manner
in which Los Angeles funds street lighting and sidewalks, towards one
in which the new city would fund these for those that can’t afford
them. A small city
investment in safer well-lit streets will result in cost-savings in
public safety and policing.
- There are no museums of note
in the Valley.
Identifying the need and funding for such museums and other cultural
resources will be a challenge.
What is your position on a living wage ordinance?
I support permanently enacting the existing Los Angeles city Living Wage
What city services do you think are most important?
Police, fire, street maintenance, public utilities, public transit, social services
such as senior and youth centers, parks and recreation and libraries.
What are your thoughts on privatization or de-regulation of water
No way! Our electrical crisis in California proved that municipal
owned utilities serve people better. LAFCO ensures the Valley will
continue to receive its share of water and power from the LA DWP at no
additional cost, and I'm very happy to continue this arrangement.
Do you think Instant Runoff Voting would be an enhancement to the
Valley secession election of candidates? Why or why not?
It certainly couldn't hurt. IRV saves taxpayer money by eliminating
the need for runoff elections. While it would be nice to have this
option in the secession vote, it's more important to adopt this after
the Valley becomes a city.
What are your thoughts about the California Clean Money Campaign?
I never realized just how limited our democracy really is, until this
first run of mine for office. It takes too much money to run for office
these days. And if you are not rich, obtaining that money becomes the
main focus of a candidate, elected official or campaign.
People like me, with no personal fortune and no business dollars to tap
into, are at a major disadvantage in running for office. I've learned
that not just anyone can run for office, and that's a shame. I support
this worthy initiative.
What qualifications do your bring to this office?
Founding Member & Co-Chair, West Hollywood Citizens for Better Police
Protection (West Hollywood Police Initiative - WHPD) 1991-1997
Co-Chair, Yes on Proposition AA (WHPD) 1992
Co-Chair – WHPD ’94
Co-Chair – Tim Olson for West Hollywood City Council 1994
Member, City of West Hollywood Election Task Force 1996
Co-Founder, West Hollywood United Against Hate (againsthate.com) 1999
Dukakis for President – Valley office 1988
Abbe Land for West Hollywood City Council
Ruth Williams for West Hollywood City Council
While I have no experience serving as a city council member, -- no one
in this race does -- I have been a life-long involved Democrat with a
good heart and strong mind. My time in West Hollywood taught me much
about local grassroots politics and the power of the people.
One manner in which to judge the candidates is to look at who is
supporting and advising them. If I’m elected, I will have a strong
circle of Democratic friends and colleagues to advise and guide me on
issues dear to us.
I’m proud to call people such as Jeff Prang (who is advising me on this
campaign), Ruth Williams, Rev. Troy Perry and State Prosecutor Brad
Levenson, friends. Further, I have worked with people such as John
Duran, Assembly Members Paul Koretz, Sheila Kuehl and Wally Knox over
the years and look forward to building stronger relationships if I’m
elected. This type of support network of friends and colleagues within
the Democratic Party will make me a great council member for the Valley.
Do you support a separate Police Department for the Valley and
Hollywood or do you think contracting out these services is sufficient?
The Valley will need to create its own police force, with LAPD
officers (and others) who wish to move to the new Valley PD. While the
Sheriff’s Department could provide excellent service and would be
welcomed by many in the Valley, the size of the new Valley city would
make it less feasible for the Sheriff to invest for a short-term
I am very open to considering a Sheriff’s policing contract for the
Valley if it proves to be more cost-effective over the long-term, than a
municipal force. However, my past experience in these matters taught me
that it is initially cheaper to use the Sheriff, but in the long life of
a municipality, especially one this large, investing in municipal police
infrastructure is a more prudent course.
What steps do you think need to be taken in the next two years to
reduce domestic violence?
1. The first people who become aware of domestic violence are law
enforcement. Law enforcement needs to work more closely in conjunction
with social service providers that offer domestic violence counseling or
shelter. They need to not only be more sensitive when they are called to
a situation (albeit male/female or same gender) and undergo sensitivity
training to understand the mental state of the victim. More than just
handing the victim a card with a counseling number, they need to contact
the social service provider (such as Women Helping Women etc) and have
their trained social worker follow-up.
2. Educational information disseminated into the community that outlines
the signs of domestic violence and what people should do when they are
aware of such a situation (who to contact, etc.).
What steps, if any, do you think need to be taken to improve voter
turnout and to reduced voter apathy?
I whole-heartedly support same-day voter registration, weekend voting
and/or ‘voting holidays’ and at a minimum, much expanded polling hours.
We should also explore voting online or by phone and voting at our
places of employment.
Further, the punch-card system used by Los Angeles County should be
replaced with new technology immediately. I call on Congress to fund
upgrades to local voting systems nationwide, including Los Angeles
One of the purposes of a campaign is to educate voters. What are
your goals, in terms of educating LA County voters about the workings of
an independent city?
Ultimately this municipal reorganization is just that. The result
will be that people on both sides of the hill will have smaller
districts, with more responsive leaders serving them.
The County as a whole will be stronger, with two city councils, each
more accountable to its constituents than ever before, working for the
better of each city – day in and day out.
Do you support term limits?
No. The people can exercise the power of “term limits”, by electing
another person. As we’ve seen in California, term limits don’t just turn
out the bad politicians. Term limits also require that good and popular
politicians have to change offices in order to continue serving
Did you take a position on Proposition 209? If not, why not? If
so, what was it and how was that communicated to the public?
I was and still am adamantly against it. We have so much further to
go before the playing field is leveled. To those that say ‘slavery ended
long ago, it’s time to end affirmative action’, I offer the fact that
we’ve only had guarantees of equality within my lifetime. In less than
40 years, we have made great strides in equal rights and opportunity for
all. But much remains undone. I was outspoken on this issue during many
lively discussions with friends, family and co-workers and urged my
representatives to oppose it.
Now that Proposition 209 is the law, what do you think should be
done to ensure equality of employment opportunity in the new cities of
the Valley and Hollywood?
San Fernando Valley must permanently adopt Los Angeles’
non-discrimination and equal employment opportunity ordinances and
continue zero-tolerance for discrimination, harassment or retaliation in
employment at the new city. I have confidence the diverse people of the
San Fernando Valley will rise to the occasion and have city employees
that reflect our diversity.
Bias is pervasive in our society. On occasion, that bias turns
into hate-motivated crime. How should California respond to
hate-motivated crime? In answering this question, you may address
sentencing enhancements for hate-motivated crime, but you should not
limit your response to such enhancements.
That’s a tough one. I understand the spirit of this question. We
already some tough laws on the books against hate crimes, but they
Education in a pro-active sense is the key. Cities and other public
entities should experiment with educational programs using a variety of
In 1999, I co-founded West Hollywood United Against Hate and
againsthate.com. This was a novel approach to hate-crimes by the City of
West Hollywood and the Sheriff’s Department. All members of West
Hollywood City Council, State Senators and Assembly Members, Capt.
Odenthal of the LASD and many religious leaders throughout the LA area
endorsed the effort.
We co-sponsored a town-hall meeting on hate crimes with then Assembly
Member Wally Knox at the Center. And Wally gave us credit for helping
pass his bill, which increased the penalties for hate-related murders.
(“Wally Knox wanted me to pass on a huge thank you to you for all your
help and support. We couldn't have gotten this important bill passed
without “AgainstHate.com".” Cliff Jin, Wally Knox's LA Office)
While the website was ended a year later, due to staffing issues, Dep.
Don Mueller of the LASD has continued the good work by incorporating
some of the content and approach into the Sheriff’s West Hollywood
I am proud that during its short time, Againsthate.com made a
If you are a challenger, when your term is completed, what will
have been your three major accomplishments?
I hope that my service to the people of the San Fernando Valley
results in improved and stable policing services, empowerment of all of
the Valley’s diverse people in the political process and establishing
good relations with the City of Los Angeles. Permanent Valley adoption
of Los Angeles Rent Control and other progressive ordinances is vital.