Suzanne Hadley

Suzanne Hadley, a 23-year resident of Manhattan Beach, is set to be sworn onto the city's first female-majority City Council April 2. Hadley led the March 5 election with just under 25 percent of the vote and plans to address prioritize public safety, school security, fiscal spending and small business protection once on the dais. (Photo by Kirsten Farmer)

Suzanne Hadley already has plans for when she is sworn onto the Manhattan Beach City Council April 2.

The political newcomer, who maintained a lead since early on in the March 5 election with just under 25 percent of the vote, is one of two candidates, along with Hildy Stern, who will be replacing termed-out Councilmembers Amy Howorth and David Lesser.

“I am going to be laser-focused on Manhattan Beach and only on things that residents bring me,” Hadley explained. “I’d love for the city to be a friendlier, easier place to live, work, start a business, raise a family and remodel your home.”

The 23-year resident of the city, who has served as a neighborhood watch captain for the last decade, said public safety will be one of her top priorities on the dais. That includes purchasing more automated license plate readers and possibly keeping the city fire department from being outsourced to the county.

“I am very much interested in what the firefighters have to say, but I would like to keep the FD in the MB because core city services are the one of the best reasons to live in a town,” Hadley said.

Hadley said she also plans to continue addressing the city’s homeless population.

“I know many of the homeless through my work at the library,” said Hadley, a part-time aide at the Manhattan Beach library—a job she plans to maintain throughout her four-year term.

She said she looks forward to working with the newly appointed Manhattan Beach Homelessness Task Force to help direct the city’s homeless to valuable community resources.

“Now is the time that we literally can help our homeless here; not just ignore them and give them a day-to-day handout, but really help them with substantive county help that they need and deserve,” Hadley said of the $150,000 in Measure H funding the beach cities received from the county in January to help the homeless population.

The mother of four and wife of former Assemblymember David Hadley explained she also plans to partner with the city’s schools.

“I want to continue to keep our kids safe,” said Hadley, who is currently president of the School Site council at Mira Costa High School.

She supports the current council’s decision to spend $1 million on perimeter fencing at campuses throughout the school district, Hadley said, and will look for other ways to help secure and strengthen the city’s schools.

“I’ll look for my spots to help where I can and use my bully pulpit to talk up our excellent public schools,” Hadley added. “I’d also like to be a conduit among small businesses and Mira Costa ... help more young people get that first job.”

The former small business owner, who once opened up a retail shop in her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wis., credits her success with the election, in part, to the support of the small business community.

Noting her own entrepreneurial experience makes her keenly aware of the hardships small business owners face, Hadley plans to advocate for grassroots business, she said.

“Anything I can do to support those businesses and not stress them with additional mandates, rules and regs...,” Hadley said. “We need to value our small business, not take them for granted...they are part of what makes MB so special.”

Hadley said she also hopes to bring her financial acumen—which includes professional experience in corporate finance and master’s degree in business from Dartmouth—to the council to ensure responsible fiscal spending.

Part of this, she explained, will include trimming a “duplicate position” from the city’s IT department to generate what she said would be $150,000 a year in savings.

“City hall doesn’t exist to hire people. The staff are there to provide services to the residents that they value and pay for. I will be looking at how does this benefit the residents,” Hadley said.

The first ordinance she plans to draft, Hadley added, will rescind city council’s $475-a-month cell phone and car allowance.

“I already have a car and a cell phone. I’m happy to pay for it myself and not saddle taxpayers with that,” Hadley said, noting if she is unsuccessful in passing the ordinance, she will donate her portion of the funds to the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation.

The political upstart also wants to revise the city’s current policy of allowing incumbents to run for reelection after two years out of office. 

Hadley said she will advocate for hard, eight-year term limits for city officials to encourage a fresh perspective in council chambers.

“I think we benefit from new ideas, new faces and fresh blood. That’s what I hope to bring and that resonated with the voters,” she added.

While Hadley hesitated to call her job at the library "office hours," she said residents will know where to find her.

“I can’t fix every resident’s issues, but I can always listen and I will do the best I can for Manhattan Beach,” she said. “It’s a privilege to serve.”

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