The March 3 municipal election field in Redondo Beach is taking shape with a crowded City Council race in District 3. Five candidates vie for the vacated seat of termed out Councilman Pat Aust, with the top two vote-getters participating in a runoff election on May 12. Over in District 5, only school board member Laura Emdee has filed to replace Councilman Matt Kilroy who has also termed out.
City Clerk Eleanor Manzano and City Treasurer Steve Diels will both be unopposed for re-election. As for the Redondo Beach Unified School Board race, the deadline to file papers was Wednesday after press deadline. So far, incumbent Anita Avrick faces two contenders for the two seats, business owners David Witkin and Reetha Haynes-Garretty. The deadline to file papers was extended to Wednesday since Emdee decided not to seek re-election, but instead run for City Council.
Here’s an introduction to candidates who have filed to run for District 3 and District 5 City Council seats.
Christian Anthony Horvath is a Tedx Redondo Beach coordinator, harbor commissioner and a businessman. His inspiration to run came from when he attended the American Legion Jersey Boys State program and then volunteered with it for 15 years - and that served as a precursor / inspiration to his involvement in the community in a variety of levels. His main priority is to provide a voice on the council for the heavily residential District 3.
“I would like to bring more care and attention to District 3. We are in the center of Redondo Beach and some of the residents feel our district’s needs are overlooked at times,” Horvath said. “I’m in support of getting rid of the AES power plant, and I believe we also need to concentrate on revitalization of the Artesia corridor as well as the waterfront.”
While he realizes the magnitude of the issues surrounding the harbor, Horvath says he is also focused on issues that affect the quality of life for residents of District 3.
“Here in our district, we have many families that have moved in. There are a lot of kids. I want to heavily focus on parks and open spaces. Also, public safety is a big issue. I want to build up our infrastructure to support providing services to our youth and seniors, and to support paying our police and firefighters a fair wage when compared to our neighboring communities. I think we can do this through the tax revenue that will come from responsible revitalization throughout Redondo Beach,” he said.
Regarding AES and the revitalization of the waterfront, Horvath said residents are tired of the arguing and want to see action.
“People want to see something happen. They want the waterfront to be somewhere they enjoy taking their families and out-of-town guests. There are a handful of complex issues the city is facing. This could be defined as a pivotal moment in time for Redondo Beach,” Horvath said.
Sandy Marchese is a retired corporate executive and public safety commissioner who believes she is the right voice to represent District 3 residents. She has corporate budgeting expertise, experience as the city’s public safety commissioner and has faithfully attended Council meetings for seven years.
As a 22-year resident of District 3, she said she understands which issues are important to residents.
“I understand what goes into balancing large-scale budgets. And I have a good handle on what the district’s residents want. We are right in the middle of Redondo Beach and we need someone who represents their thoughts and interest on Council,” she said.
Marchese’s focus is on preserving the city’s past while also protecting its future. She believes change is necessary to ensure a viable future, however as a member of the city’s historical commission, she is passionate about retaining the city’s high quality of life.
“I am focused on making sure of our safety by supporting the community’s services such as making sure our police and fire departments are brought up to the right compensation levels. So many citizens feel that the quality of life in Redondo Beach isn’t what it should be. I want to focus on improving that and bringing it up to where it should be; Redondo Beach is a beautiful community,” she said.
As far as the revitalization of the waterfront and redevelopment of the AES site goes, Marchese said change is needed, however she wants to see it done responsibly.
“What needs to be done is for Council to gather as much input from the community to make sure the citizens’ interests are being accurately represented. I don’t believe either of the projects have to be all or nothing. Change is good, but I think the city needs to change things responsibly and go forward with what is best for the future quality of life for our citizens,” she said.
Eric Coleman, a teacher and Redondo Beach native, said he has watched entrenched special interests hijack both local and national governments.
“Local politicians’ lack of courage has brought us to the brink of an Orwellian nightmare straight out of ‘1984,’ he said.
In his campaign for Aust’s seat, Coleman has an emphasis on fostering a larger sense of community in Redondo.
His major campaign platforms include an initiative to bring back the red cars which are wheeled trolleys reminiscent of the Historic Los Angeles Red Cars. He wants to push for air trolleys that run regularly to connect all of Redondo Beach.
He believes the city needs to address the street festival freeze that has been put on his district. Under the current ordinance, the city prohibits any new street festivals under the current budget. “District 3 does not even have one,” he said.
Coleman emphasizes cutting budget spending that he calls wasteful.
“One such glaring example is, every year, for the last 10 years plus, the city spends roughly $4 million on vehicle replacement: Another instance where bureaucracy feels the need to spend every last dime in fear it won’t be there for them again next year,” he said.
Also, he wants to create a fun environment at City Council meetings, one that would encourage more residents to attend.
Coleman wants the city to support innovative technology competitions and have the city retrofitted for solar power. He also will push for more funding of art.
He stands against the proposed CenterCal Properties waterfront revitalization proposal. He believes developing the city’s waterfront and the AES site separately is shortsighted.
“If we, the people, don’t have a say in the direction of these projects we’ll be stuck with traffic congestion, strains on the infrastructure, and a lower quality of life, all while the developers get rich. The pier mall project doesn’t include creativity and I will fight for a SEA Lab aquarium,” Coleman said.
Sam Kartounian who sits on the city’s business finance commission and operates a business in the South Bay Galleria says he has the expertise and leadership skills needed to represent businesses and residents of District 3.
He is currently the vice chair of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce Government Relation Council and thinks the city needs his strong leadership skills and sturdy business background.
“Through working with the city on the business finance commission and within my role on the chamber’s government relations council, I became inspired to want to get more involved in the decision making and the hard work that needs to get done,” he said. “District 3 is beautiful. We have so much to offer the residents. A lot of people have been moving to our district for the schools. I want to see the high standards of our education system continue.”
Public safety is also a top priority to Kartounian. He said he wants to place an emphasis on supporting the police department and the firefighters as well as doing more to take care of the city’s senior population.
“I want to focus on what will improve the quality of life for our residents. I want to address the community’s concerns about signs, speed bumps, parking or whatever it may be. That is what I mean by wanting to do the hard work that needs to be done,” he said. “Public safety is a big issue, education and keeping the property values high for our residents.”
He also supports the business community including the Artesia corridor and the South Bay Galleria.
As far as the issue of harbor development, Kartounian said the city needs to find the right balance between redevelopment and quality of life.
“We need to be able to produce the tax revenue to increase the support to our public safety, however, we need to ensure we also improve the quality of life in Redondo Beach,” he said.
Candace Nafissi who currently serves as the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Education and Policy Manager said her background in public administration positions her well as a District 3 representative.
“Redondo Beach right now has a lot at stake. My experience in working in public administration will be very useful to the City Council. What I’ve studied and learned gives me a unique perspective that I want to bring to the City Council,” she said.
As the education and policy manager, she has been an advocate for education and works daily to encourage businesses to invest in education.
Nafissi has three main focuses for her run for office: creating a balanced waterfront development plan, enhancing the support to public safety departments and increasing the synergy between the city and the school district.
“I am for waterfront revitalization, but I don’t think we need to double its size. I am married to a LAPD officer so I have strong reason to support our officers and firefighters. They need to be supported so they have what they need to keep the community safe,” she said. “I want to see the city and school district work together more. Over in Long Beach, they do this well and together they make a lot of really great things happen. I think it’s time for Redondo to do this. The students are our future workforce, they are also our future community members and leaders. We should have a vested interest.”
Laura Emdee, who has served on the Redondo Beach Unified School Board since 2011, said she hopes to give a louder voice to the residents and businesses of District 5. She also seeks to maintain the positive working relationship with RBUSD that Matthew Kilroy helped establish. Emdee is leaving her position on the school board to run for his seat.
“I really want to advocate for North Redondo Beach. When I was filing my papers to run, one resident told me that she feels like North Redondo is the forgotten stepchild of the city. I don’t want our residents to feel this way. I hope to change that,” Emdee said. “I want to focus on what is important to the businesses and citizens of North Redondo.”
She is focused on advocating for fair compensation for city employees and the revitalization of the Artesia corridor.
“I also want to maintain our support of the businesses north of Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Northrop Grumman is our city’s largest employer and Kilroy did a wonderful job in advocating for a lot of those big hotels that were built nearby. I want to continue and build on that support,” she said.
Emdee hasn’t made up her mind about the revitalization of the waterfront and redevelopment of the AES site. She said she still has several more questions that need answers.
“I’m not coming in with some big agenda. Basically I’m interested in enhancing the quality of life that our residents enjoy and supporting businesses in North Redondo Beach and throughout the city,” she said. “I still have questions. I say let’s figure out the best solution. I am focused on being a problem solver. I don’t think AES is evil. They are just trying to get the most for their property. CenterCal is going to have to lay out costs for repairing the infrastructure so they have to figure out how to recoup that in the long run. However I do believe we need to find the right balance. No business is going to thrive down there if there’s nowhere to park and it’s too much of a hassle to access.”