On April 12th, with complete confidence and high hopes, I will be casting one of my three Culver City City Council votes for Thomas Small. My confidence stems from my long-standing and deep friendship with his family. My high hopes arise from my distinct impression that he is an expert in disciplines that matter immensely to our fair city at this important juncture.
Thomas, the only non-incumbent candidate who parents children in the CCUSD, has demonstrated his commitment to our schools as both a parent and a volunteer. Due to our friendship, I was privy to the knowledge that the contribution his family would be able to make to our community by attending their home school was a significant factor in their decision to attend Linwood Howe. Thomas has since proven this theory to be true by volunteering his time to teach before-school Spanish to 150 elementary school students as part of our Spanish Language Program during its most vulnerable pilot year, thereby ensuring its success. This program is now preparing for its third year of teaching 90-minutes per week of immersive Spanish reading, writing and speaking to one third of the Lin Howe student population, free of charge.
This intimate understanding of the schools will allow Thomas to improve communication between City Hall and the School District in ways that can facilitate collaboration and crossover on critical projects, such as storm water management and the Culver Studios expansion. Here is where my friendship with Thomas matters to voters other than me. What I know of Thomas assures me that collaboration on large scale plans such as these, and so many of the others pending and in process all over town right now, will be much easier with Thomas at the helm, because he relentlessly “reaches across the aisle” to bring disparate Culver City groups together. He will adeptly seek the input of stakeholders and put together expert advisory teams on potentially contentious issues, including development, traffic, and transportation, without losing sight of a project’s unique impact, urgency or primary goals.
In direct relationship to such “hot topics”, Thomas’s education and sophistication do matter in this remarkable hour in Culver City’s history – now, more than in recent times, it is critical that the Council make decisions about development projects that demonstrate cultural sensitivity to art and beauty, and that also honor the diversity of residents and businesses that we most successfully attract and support. My dreams for the future of Culver City grow big when I think of Thomas’s experience moderating Sustainable Design Award juries in San Francisco, New York and Copenhagen, and his presentations at conferences in Tokyo and London on Green and Livable Cities. He taught for the Sustainability Certificate program at UCLA. When I remember that, along with all of his other credentials and characteristics, I say to myself “imagine what we could do right here in Culver City if that guy was on Council!”
Thomas brings something different to the table. He is ahead of the curve in ways that when combined with his incredibly generous and affable spirit, would give any voter an expectation of greatness.
Kelly Kent PhD
CCUSD Governing Board Member