$26 billion is a big number. That is the annual budget of the County of Los Angeles, and it rivals the budget of some states. In the race to succeed Zev Yaroslavsky for county Supervisor there is only one candidate who is clearly qualified to step into the Hall of Administration on Day One and get things done.
Shelia Kuehl is not just a pioneering role model in the women’s and LBGT community, she proved that in the era of term limits one person can still make a huge difference in the generally dysfunctional state legislature.
First elected to the California Assembly in 1994 and then moving on to the state Senate, she proved that you can push a progressive agenda in even the most trying of times. The number of bills she authored that actually passed made her a legendary figure in Sacramento. She authored bills on domestic violence, gay rights and environmental protection. She led on key issues such as access to health care, water and rational development. Her successful efforts to restructure California’s ineffective system of collection of child support pro-actively touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. Sheila was a leader in protecting the Santa Monica Mountains.
Once elected to the Board of Supervisors, Kuehl can hit the ground running. She is a talented politician with a proven ability to work with ideological rivals, an important personality trait in a board tightly divided between progressives and conservatives.
Kuehl’s rival on Nov. 4 is former two-term Santa Monica council member, Bobby Shriver, who asserts that his local experience makes him the better choice for Supervisor.
I am a former two-term City Council member. I served eight years on the city’s Budget Subcommittee and chaired the Santa Monica Boulevard Re-Design Committee during that time. Although I pride myself on my accomplishments and contributions to this community, I would never claim my experience in municipal government would match that of Sheila Kuehl.
Bobby Shriver does not even claim to have been an outstanding Council member. While I appreciate his focus on helping the homeless, his claims on that issue were dismissed by Zev Yarosolvasky in a recent Los Angeles Times article as being “a drop in the bucket.” I suspect that Shriver’s claim to have reduced the homeless population in Santa Monica by 20 percent is exaggerated and probably was accomplished by pushing a lot of homeless into West Hollywood.
Shriver comes across as a bit of a dilettante; he missed 20 percent of the meetings when he was a Santa Monica Council member. That is one in five meetings, which is a lot. You wouldn’t hire someone with that sort of work history. If you run for office because you claim public service is important, you would think it would be important to at least show up.
Additionally he was generally late to the meetings that he deigned to grace, missing all of those pesky and annoying citizen comments. That calls into question his commitment to service and public accountability.
West Hollywood Council member John Duran has endorsed Shriver, claiming that municipal government is the best training ground for the Board of Supervisors. That is hardly a realistic comparison. The county’s Department of Child Support Services has more employees than the entire City of West Hollywood. Handling a multi-billion dollar budget is not just an issue of a few extra decimal points. This is where Kuehl’s experience as a full time legislator who dealt with multi-billion dollar budgets can make a difference.
If you don’t think that there is a difference between being a full-time legislator and serving on a part-time City Council that meets twice a month, just compare the recent career of City Councilmember Jeff Prang.
After doing public relations for Sheriff Lee Baca for a dozen years, Prang was offered a job by a political crony to serve as Assistant City Manager of the City of Pico Rivera. Prang told Pico Rivera that his 14 years as a City Council member and work with the Sheriff’s Department made him eminently qualified for this position.
He was fired after less than eighteen months on the job. Like many politicians he didn’t know what he didn’t know. It turned out that being a part time member of a city council does not necessarily qualify you to actually run a municipality on a daily basis.
In this race the Los Angeles Times has endorsed Sheila Kuehl. It also has reported how Shriver has raised millions of dollars from developers. Shriver clearly wants a political career and will use the Board as a stepping stone to higher office. On the other hand, this will be Kuehl’s public service swan song. After serving on the board she will be retiring. She will not be beholden to special interests.
Kuehl earned our respect when she served West Hollywood as our state Senator. She shares our community values and commitment to progressive causes. She has a proven record of legislative accomplishment that was unrivaled by most of her peers. I can’t imagine anyone who is more qualified to succeed the legendary Zev Yaroslavsky.
Steve Martin, an attorney, is a former member of the West Hollywood City Council. WEHOville.com invites readers to submit opinion pieces about current events and issues relevant to West Hollywood. Send them to Henry@WEHOville.com.