Bill Brand, John Gran Redondo Beach

Mayor Bill Brand sits at the dais during a Redondo Beach City Council meeting Tuesday, June 18, 2019 a day after receiving radiation on a brain tumor. (Photo by David Rosenfeld)

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand was showered with well wishes on Tuesday in a warm show of support at his first City Council meeting since announcing Friday that he has Stage 4 lung cancer.

The news of Brand’s illness, revealed in a Facebook post and later in an interview with The Beach Reporter, came as a shock to many people — including Brand himself. The 61-year-old mayor, who overcame cancer twice while in his 30s, is physically active and considered to be in good health up until this diagnosis.

Brand missed the council meeting last week, explaining later that he had a seizure on an airplane headed to Mexico Friday, June 7, and tests later revealed he had lung cancer that spread to his back and brain. On Monday, he received radiation treatment on the tumor in his brain, and he will soon find out if he fits certain criteria to receive immunotherapy cancer treatment.

“It’s obviously shocked all of us,” said City Councilmember Todd Loewenstein. “We’re all thinking of him and will support him in anyway we can. He’s a fighter and he’s shown he’s been a fighter his whole life.”

Brand took the dais Tuesday following the procedure looking as strong as ever. Loewenstein and several members of the public expressed their support and encouragement for the mayor during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Once again you’ve turned this around to be something positive,” said resident Wayne Craig. “It makes me proud to be your friend these past few years. We are all here to support you.”

“Bill, we love you,” said resident Andy Lesser.

“We are looking forward to many years to come,” said attorney Ellis Raskin.

Each well-wisher met with a round of applause from the crowd.

“The whole thing has been very surreal,” Brand said Tuesday taking it all in.

Brand, who is widely viewed as a steadfast politician often taking a firm stance when it comes to development, has acquired his fair share of political enemies — and loyal supporters — over the years, first as an activist opposing a waterfront plan roughly 20 years ago, to his eight years on the City Council and since 2017 as mayor.

Since announcing his diagnosis, Brand has received an outpouring of support even from some of his long time political foes.

Former Mayor Steve Aspel, who Brand defeated in elections March 2017, said he put politics aside and called his former opponent over the weekend. Aspel battled colorectal cancer, also in the public spotlight, in 2010.

“We did agree a lot more than we disagreed,” Aspel said in an interview Tuesday. “We only disagreed on building and things like that. It’s just sad. He’s a relatively young and physically fit guy and here he gets cancer. You just never know.”

Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim, who at roughly 20 years Brand’s junior said he considers the mayor a political mentor, attended some of the tests the mayor underwent last week with doctors at City of Hope South Bay in Torrance.

“It’s tough to sit there and see your friend get this news, somebody you respect and see as so healthy and now getting tested to see how much cancer there is in his body,” Nehrenheim said.

Brand said on Tuesday he was happy to get back to the business of Redondo Beach, including discussion of next year’s budget.

“I’m going to be doing my normal life and be around here for getting better,” Brand said before the meeting. “I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been all over the world. In a lot of ways I’ve done it all already. I’m focused on getting better, going through my treatments and caring for my wife.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

Load comments