Redondo Beach mayor candidates

Shown at a forum are the candidates running for Redondo Beach mayor are, from left, Eric Coleman, Pat Aust, Steve Aspel and Matt Kilroy. (photo by Paul Silva)

The Beach Reporter asked the four candidates running for mayor in the Redondo Beach March 5 election to answer the same six questions regarding their qualifications and issues facing the community. The candidates’ answers were limited to 100 words for each question. Here, in alphabetical order, are the answers from each of the candidates:

Steve Aspel:

What do you see as the mayor’s role and why would you be effective in that role?

The mayor sets the agenda for the city. It’s the mayor’s vision with support from the city council that gets implemented. The mayor also plays a key role in building consensus in the community by bridging the gap between competing ideas. I have always been good with people and have the ability to connect with others no matter what side of an issue they are on. As mayor I can work with any elected person and any citizen regardless of their opinions. I can build consensus in our community, solve problems and move our city into a positive direction.

With a tight budget, what would your priorities be, i.e. public safety staffing, facility improvements, services for seniors, etc?

Public Safety and Public Works will always be a top priority for me as mayor. We have already begun the process to hire up to 10 more police officers. Beyond that I will do my best to balance budget priorities with the needs of our community while being frugal with your tax dollars. Before decisions are made to cut or fund something I will make sure that all the information has been considered and the most reasonable, fair and balanced decision is made.

Do you support Measure A? Why or why not?

No, I don’t think that Measure A is a practical solution and ultimately I think it will cost the city and the taxpayers a lot of money. I am not in favor of industrial or residential uses in the harbor area. Measure A does not have the authority to remove the power plant. As Mayor I will work hard at collaborating with all sides of this issue and others to find common ground and workable solutions that are both practical and reasonable.

Have you been satisfied with the beginnings of the waterfront revitalization project and what would you most like to see in a final design?

It has taken years to get to the stage we are at and I am pleased to see the progress now being made. I am also very satisfied to see the large amount of public participation that has turned out at the visioning meetings over the last several weeks. I am hopeful that the citizens, the city and the developer will come up with concepts that are both financially feasible and conform to the look and feel of our community. While I would love to see “shovels in the dirt” now, I’d rather go slow and do it right.

How should the city address the financial pressures from rising pension and healthcare costs?

We have already begun to address this issue in many ways including instituting tiered approaches to retirement plans. This was a big step and will save the city substantial money over time. As Mayor I will continue to work closely with our labor groups to ensure we find the right balance between the needs of our city and what is fair and reasonable for our employees. We are now working closely with all of the Labor Groups to obtain a new health insurance provider with more competitive prices and coverage.

With all the focus on the waterfront and the power plant, what other important challenges need more attention?

Some of the most important issues are the ones that we deal with everyday. I have developed a reputation for taking care of the neighborhoods and the small things because I believe your quality of life begins on YOUR street, in YOUR neighborhood and with YOUR family. People have affectionately nicknamed me the “Pot Hole Councilman” because I give attention to those small things affecting your life every day such as trees needing to be trimmed, pot holes filled, barking dogs and litter. As mayor, I will always act on your issue immediately no matter how large or small. Guaranteed!

Pat Aust:

What do you see as the mayor’s role and why would you be effective in that role?

The mayor is the face or identity for our city. The mayor has the responsibility and authority to lead the city council and must insure its decisions reflect the will of the majority of our citizens. I believe my 44 years of practical experience as fire chief, emergency preparedness coordinator and council member have given me the best actual working knowledge that's needed to lead the next city council. I've commanded the largest natural and man-made disasters our city has faced with the skill and ability to achieve a highly successful outcome. That knowledge and experience makes me the most effective candidate for mayor.

With a tight budget, what would your priorities be, i.e. public safety staffing, facility improvements, services for seniors, etc?

With the steady decline in the economy our city and state have experienced over the past five years we've had to make cuts and concessions that would not have been possible without the assistance of our employee workforce. Now that we're finally seeing signs of recovery, we can start to put the new funding sources we've been working on into action to fund recovery of services our citizens and employees deserve. The two new hotels on Marine Avenue and the Harbor revitalization are two of the priorities we established  to speed up the restoration of vital safety service levels.

Do you support Measure A? Why or why not?

I am not in favor of Measure A because I believe thirty pages of confusing contradictory zoning regulations are not a fair way to explain the true intent of this initiative. I believe the answer to the question, "Are you in favor of the power plant being rebuilt, yes or no?,” was a better, more direct method of sending the message to the California Energy Commission as to how the majority of Redondo Beach voters really felt about the power plant being rebuilt. If this measure passes, we will be in court for years trying to interpret its intent while wasting an enormous amount of taxpayers’  dollars.

Have you been satisfied with the beginnings of the waterfront revitalization project and what would you most like to see in a final design?

I'm very satisfied with the four preliminary meetings CenterCal has had with the large numbers of concerned citizens that have turned out to help assure the city gets it right this time. It's been nearly 50 years since the last time we had the opportunity to make meaningful changes in the pier area’s design and configurations. This time we must make sure it meets the needs of its neighbors, the majority of our citizens as well as the visitors that will come to stay and spend their money enjoying all the new amenities it will offer.

How should the city address the financial pressures from rising pension and healthcare costs?

This city has been proactively addressing pension reform and healthcare costs for years. We set aside budgetary reserves to fund these costs, instituted a tiered retirement benefit system for new hires and limited our exposure on retiree medical to the employees only for no more than 15 years. The city has an insurance committee comprised of representatives from each bargaining group to contain the actual costs and understand their impacts while helping to set the cap on the amount the city pays. Contrary to the common belief, our employees have been willingly paying their portion of the costs.

With all the focus on the water front and the power plant, what other important challenges need more attention?

The revitalization of North Redondo's economic corridor along Artesia Boulevard and the extensive upgrading of the South Bay Galleria by Forest City, the Galleria's owners, are both essential to the balanced economic recovery for all of Redondo Beach. The federal government's possible closure of the Los Angeles Air Force base would be an enormous crippling blow to the regional economy. This is the largest singular challenge on the horizon and its effects would be measured in thousands of lost jobs and billions of dollars in lost revenue for the whole South Bay.

Eric Coleman:

What do you see as the Mayor's role and why would you be effective in that role?

Since the mayor has no vote, and only a veto, the mayor's role is to steer the conversation and keep the topic on real issues. The mayor should urge council to carefully read contracts and not just rubber stamp based on staff recommendations. It is the mayor's job to make sure all sides have a chance to be heard; not just paid lip service. The mayor must be vigilant in preventing those with deep pockets from running roughshod over the will of the people. My years teaching have taught me to listen, generate fresh ideas, and facilitate discussion.

With a tight budget, what would your priorities be; i.e. Public safety staffing, facility improvements, services for seniors?

While public safety is important, it shouldn't be about “staffing.” Public safety is a matter of responsibility on the part of the individual, and a matter of education. Also, why exactly is our budget so tight? We're digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a budget hole because of a bureaucracy that doesn't understand the word “restraint.” For instance, ever year the city spends roughly $4 million on vehicle replacement; often regardless of whether the new vehicles are needed or not. This bureaucratic waste must end if we are to reach the road to solvency. I would restore the hospital as well.

Do you support Measure A, why or why not?

There's been a lot of talk about Measure A being a 'taking', but let's discuss what AES has been taking from us; our waterfront, our skyline, our health, and taking advantage of tax loopholes grandfathered in by Edison. AES wants to give us a retooled power plant, which will spew 5 to 15 times more particulate matter into our air, and 38 acres of “mixed use” zoning on the property with no guarantee that the land won't slowly be sold off to condo developers. The plant is unnecessary to the grid and the residents of Redondo. Yes on Measure A!

Have you been satisfied with the beginnings of the waterfront revitalization project and what would you most like to see in its final design?

There has been a developer-based relationship in city hall for some time now. The mayor holds veto power; however, historically the residents of Redondo have had to step in and pass measures to put a check and balance on the City Council. Passage of Measure DD to halt the obvious “Heart of the City” land grab is just one example. While CenterCal has been holding meetings and gathering public input, this alone is not enough. The residents and merchants of the waterfront are the stake-holders in this project; they have the right to determine their future.

How should the city address financial pressures from rising pension and healthcare costs?

There is a lot of can kicking when it comes to pensions, and the can's not exactly being kicked up the road. There are even people, on this city council, who are still employed, yet drawing pensions north of $20,000 a month. I would scrutinize budget holes related to pensions. One example; the missing $3 million a year, under the column of Public Safety, that comes from public officials trying to get as much overtime as they can before retirement in order to collect a much larger pension after retirement, at the tax-payers’ expense.

With all the focus on the waterfront and the power plant, what other important challenges need more attention?

Right now we have a South Redondo that some see as P.V. junior and a North Redondo others consider Lawndale-lite. This needs to be fixed. We have to focus on the whole of Redondo, not just parts, or the entire body suffers. Crucial in bringing us together is re-instating the Red Car; a wheeled trolley car system that connects North Redondo to South Redondo, and undoing the street festival freeze. Once we do this we will no longer have a P.V. junior or Lawndale- lite, but something closer to Santa Monica, back when it was cool.

Matt Kilory:

What do you see as the Mayor’s role and why would you be effective in that role?

The Mayor has the responsibility to ensure that policies, priorities, and resources benefit all the citizens of Redondo Beach. The Mayor needs to be willing to take the lead on important issues and not sit back and wait for others to decide the direction that the City will take. The Mayor needs to effectively advocate on behalf of the residents to County, State, and Federal officials. I believe that I would be very effective at meeting these roles as I have already had a great deal of experience working with Supervisor Don Knabe, State Senator Ted Lieu, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, and Representative Henry Waxman.  In addition I have developed relationships throughout Redondo Beach serving as a Board member with AYSO, PTSA, and on 4 City Commissions.

With a tight budget, what would your priorities be, i.e. public safety staffing, facility improvements, services for seniors, etc?

The first responsibility of any city government is the safety of its citizens.  The first priority has to be maintaining our police and fire departments.  Infrastructure is also a responsibility that cannot be passed on to anyone else and is vital in maintaining our economic vitality and quality of life.  With these essential needs met, other priorities can be addressed, such as improving our upkeep of parks and open spaces, increasing hours at our libraries, improving customer service at City Hall.  

Do you support Measure A?  Why? Or Why not?

Although I don’t believe locating a power plant in a densely populated area is appropriate and finding a more beneficial use for the property would be preferable, I cannot support Measure A.  The authors of Measure A have admitted that the city be responsible for purchasing the 60+% area that is required for a park.  It is not fiscally responsible to put the City in a position that could decimate our ability to provide public safety services.  The property belongs to AES and is violation of private property rights. It will cost the City millions in legal fees and is opposed by Rep. Henry Waxman as well as Craig Huey.

Have you been satisfied with the beginnings of the waterfront revitalization project and what would you most like to see in a final design?

I want to see at the waterfront what the residents are willing to support. If development of the waterfront does not serve the residents then it will be a failure. Further, I want to ensure that views are maintained, traffic circulation improved, and a waterfront created that we can all be proud of and want to share with visitors.

How should the city address the financial pressures from unfunded pensions and rising healthcare costs?

We are working collaboratively with our employee unions to provide a wider choice of healthcare options at a more reasonable cost. Maintaining affordable, quality, healthcare coverage for our employees and their families is imperative. I believe the actions we are taking now will provide some relief in the very near future.  With regards to rising pension costs I have been proactive in reducing future liabilities, yet the present day costs continue to climb.  We have positioned ourselves to weather the current increases and with the continuing improvement of our economy it is expected that we will be able to meet our future obligations.

With all the focus on the waterfront and the power plant, what other important challenges need more attention?

New storm water regulations have the potential to improve our ocean water quality as well as keep our beaches cleaner.  I have testified to the Regional Water Quality Control Board as to the impacts the new regulations will have on our City. The challenge will be to ensure that the new regulations are fair, appropriate, effective, and achievable. I have also had discussions with our Federal legislators on how we can best position ourselves to keep the LA Air Force Base off the closure list. Lastly, as Mayor I would make it a priority to stay engaged with the owners of the South Bay Galleria to ensure that everything was done to attract quality stores to the Galleria and Artesia corridor.

 

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