Opinion: Why Sheila Kuehl’s Assembly Experience Makes Her the Choice for 3rd District Supervisor

$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.

Sheila Kuehl
Sheila Kuehl

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.


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Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

Shriver’s initials are “BS” for a reason.

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)
Guest

@ EM you speak the truth! For this and other reasons I’m going with Shriver… the biggest being Keuhl. I was privy to several of their live debates which helped. (If you’re interested there’s one on youtube hosted by Channel 7 anchor.) In the warmest way possible: Steve, I think you’re clouded by your feud with Duran/D’Amico and anyone else -who is not you- on the council. They both are endorsing Shriver for a reason. (I think this says a lot in itself.) I appreciate your public voice, Steve, but you’re wrong on this one. Shriver has a track record… Read more »

Gustavo
Guest
Gustavo

Dear Editor, The author of this editorial is clearly misinformed about Jeff Prang’s tenure in the City of Pico Rivera. Jeff served for 3-1/2 years as our Assistant City Manager, including a year as our co-acting city manager. Jeff was a very effective administrator, managing community development, public works, and public safety. He played a key role in helping stabilize city finances that saved jobs and public services. He managed our successful anti-graffiti program, implemented key infrastructure projects, including road improvements, recycled water and a new library. He left under his own terms, and I can say without hesitation that… Read more »

Lynn
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Lynn

Steve Martin, it would be great if could venture forth with some original investigative research rather then always believing what your friends tell you and parroting the “too many times told stories”. Having long paid attention to what goes on in Santa Monica, while no authority, I often question colleagues involved in their government as well as keep up through their newspapers. NPR also broadcasts their city council meetings at 8:00pm every other Tuesday following Warren Olney which I frequently catch in the car and beyond. You might be interested in considering some comments from Bob Holbrook regarding serving with… Read more »

BC
Guest
BC

Sheila Keuhl will lead LA County right into bankruptcy. She is completely in bed with the public employee unions. If this district elects her, they deserve the misery that will come.

Not the 1%
Guest
Not the 1%

You have got to be kidding. BC, you are obviously watching too much Fox News. Sheila is the only one in this race who has ANY experience in dealing with large budgets successfully. Oh, wait a minute, she’s the only one who has any experience….

Not the 1%
Guest
Not the 1%

And that goes for you too EM. BTW – have any of you who bad mouth SK considered BS’ position on development along the Malibu coast, supporting his billionaire friends’ plans to just build whatever they want?

EM Sherwood
Guest
EM Sherwood

Steve you could not be more wrong.

First, county employees are spending millions to elect Sheila, why because she will rubber stamp contracts and pensions and West Hollywood will suffer because as you know the city contracts with the sheriff department.

Speaking of the sheriff department, they are spending $500,000 to elect Sheila. Twenty of their members have been indicted and six have been convicted for civil rights abuses.

They are trying to buy this election. Why does she play along? What has she promised them? Look at the LA Times piece on fundraising.

Hope
Guest
Hope

@ Alison – if SK is spending a fortune BS is spending 3 or 4 fortunes raised from the big business community and developers, not working people. But putting aside what they have spent and simply looking at what they have done, can there even be a serious discussion. Bobby spent 10 years fighting with the federal government getting nothing accomplished on vet homelessness – and little else accomplished in a SMALL (albeit lovely) city. Oh, he produced a movie that his brother in-law stared in and he produced CDs to raise money for the Special Olympics (a family project… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

I also agree with Steve Martin, she is a good choice for supervisor, though I’m annoyed by the exorbitant number of mailers from her campaign.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

She has my vote!

Mike Dolan
Guest
Mike Dolan

Once again I find myself agreeing with Steve. Rare, but he is right on point with his critical analysis. Shelia Kuehl is the right choice and she is my choice. Thanks Steve for this. @Alison: From start-to-finish I can think of many a career politician that if I had one more opportunity; I would vote for them again. You are a Debbie-Downer and it appears to be your career. So, I will say NO to Debbie-Downer’s and yes to Shelia Kuehl. Truly, I could not think of a better choice for the 3rd District County Supervisor and know we all… Read more »

Alison
Guest
Alison

She is another career politician. She, or her supporters, are spending a fortune on daily mailers. This is not a person I want representing me. Say NO to career politicians.

Woody McBreairty
Guest

Excellent. Thank you Steve.