As Ron Izuka, Lieutenant to the Culver City Police Department, finished his address to the Culver Crest Neighborhood Association about crime having declined in their neighborhood, the candidates for city council race awaited their opportunity to address the audience. Candidate Jim Clarke, with his “I Love Culver City” pin, began the opening statements by telling the audience of his current position in Los Angeles local government and the contacts he has made as a result. The opening statements continued, giving all the candidates an opportunity to express their devotion, and familiarity to and with Culver City. Candidate Stephen Murray expressed how easy it was for him, being able to walk to the meeting from his home.
The first topic addressed was the cuts within local government. While most of the candidates had similar views to Scott Malsin’s statement that the cuts were “not allowing Culver City to be itself,” Murray took a different approach. Murray encouraged the cuts, saying certain cuts were necessary. He was quick to point out that the city employs 390 people, and that the problem really comes down to the efficiency of these employees. Meghan Sahli-Wells suggested “keeping the money we have inside the city” by limiting outside consulting. Andy Weissman responded to this by saying that should the city limit outside consulting, someone within the local government would need to start consulting, further adding to their work load.
When the topic of medicinal marijuana dispensaries opening came up, the incumbent Mayor Mehaul O’Leary told a story of a dispensary owner asking the city to protect his money and property from the federal government. O’Leary said he was “shocked at the audacity of the question,” and responded with no help for the dispensary owner. This set the tone on the topic, until candidate Scott Malsin stood and revealed that he “has no problem with pot smokers,” and that he supports dispensaries so long as they are well run, adding that he couldn’t imagine much better regulations in place than the city already have.
Inevitably Malsin’s decision to leave office to secure health care for his family was brought up. Malsin justified this by reiterating his statement that he did what he had to do to protect his family. While no candidate directly criticized Malsin’s decision, they all seemed to agree that another look should be taken at the distribution of benefits to government officials. Sahli-Wells summed it up when she said “You vote for someone for four years. You don’t vote for them for life.”
The most controversial topic for the Culver Crest, oil drilling, was also put to the candidates. When the oil fields were brought up, the candidates were all in agreement that there should be no new drilling spots. They also agreed that West Los Angeles college had become a burden to the city which the new administration should look for help.
One of the final topics – what to do on the corner of Washington and National, where a metro line station is to be built. Mayor O’Leary opened up by suggesting that surrounding the triangle lot there was a plan in place to build housing, retail offices and boutiques, and a hotel. Sahli-Wells made the suggestion that until the construction on these was complete, a temporary market be put into place so people exiting the train at Culver City would see more than just unfinished construction. Another concern with the train station was the traffic it would create, to which candidates were all in agreement that bike share programs, and shuttles to chauffeur people to and from the stop should be put into place.
With only four openings on the council and six candidates the decision may be a tough one. Listening to the candidates make their suggestions, and plead their devotion to Culver City, there is a field of candidates ardently seeking the public trust.
Editor’s Note- Culver City Crossroads is pleased to welcome Sean Fregoso as our SMC intern.