In light of her win in the March 5 election, Hildy Stern is preparing to get to work once she is sworn on to Manhattan Beach’s first woman-majority council April 2.
“This is the part I love: learning and thinking. I’m excited,” said Stern, who currently works as a program director for Creating Conversations—an author and book event business.
The political newcomer will join fellow elect Suzanne Hadley, also an upstart, as well as Councilmembers Nancy Hersman, Richard Montgomery and Mayor Steve Napolitano on the panel.
While this is her first foray into civic government, Stern pushes back against the “newbie” label she said many people have been giving her.
“I’ve been here for quite a while and really gotten to know this community,” the 24-year resident explained. “I think I can bring a lot of different knowledge.”
The mother of four and wife of Jeremy Stern, a business development manager for Google and Youtube, is originally from Franklin, Mich.
"It's a small town nestled in the suburban sprawl, similar to Manhattan Beach in that everyone cares about the community very much. That's why we chose (here)," she said.
Stern has immersed herself in the Manhattan Beach community through volunteering, mostly with the local schools.
She has served as the community outreach projects chair at Pacific Elementary, a scholar quiz test writer and volunteer trainer at Manhattan Beach Middle School and vice president of concerts and events for the band at Mira Costa High School.
Stern is also a former Dept. of Justice trial lawyer with a master law degree from Georgetown. She plans to bring a steady, deliberate voice to council on issues such as furthering green initiatives in Manhattan Beach.
"Other communities are looking to and learning from us. I want to continue to take an active role in protecting our planet...it’s important for our future and our children.”
After coming across residents frustrated with a lack of code enforcement while on the campaign trail, Stern said she also plans to step up enforcement once on the dais to make local laws more effective.
“It’s frustrating to see that things are not being enforced in the day-to-day," said Stern. "That was a big one to me because that’s what I heard over and over in everyone’s living room and every time I knocked on a door.”
Stern is also hoping to boost community involvement in the council meetings and find more effective ways to inform residents of city hall happenings.
“How can we bring people in so they can be a part of the decision making and the communication?” she questioned. “I really want to listen, understand the stakeholders, fellow city council members and the issues to make sure we’re making informed decisions, in unity, for our community.”
Stern forecasted upcoming challenges for the council will be issues such development along Sepulveda and a potential move to county fire services.
“This (move) would have implications—not just the quality of our service but for the strength of our budget. We really need to look closely at that,” she explained. “I want to make a decision that’s based on real knowledge.”
She emphasized responsible fiscal spending without sacrificing key city services will be one of her goals while on council.
"We are a city of services and we need to have an infrastructure that supports all those services," Stern said. "If there is wasteful spending, we should be addressing that, but we need to understand if that's true first."
Stern also hopes to bring her values of inclusion and respect for diversity to the table when handling local issues, she said, noting council should be on everyone's side.
“It’s about recognizing and supporting all of our whole population,” she added. "Let's be a bit more creative in thinking outside the box and trying to come up with a balance that works."