On June 3, 2014 the California Primary Election will be held to vote on statewide measures as well as local offices. For Torrance, this is a pretty important election as our current mayor, Frank Scotto will term out and there are four city council seats that are up for grabs. We have three candidates running for Mayor and sixteen candidates vying for the four city council seats.
As far as mayoral candidates are concerned, we are pretty lucky. Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to observe, interact and talk to all three candidates and I can honestly say that no matter which of them wins, I think Torrance will be okay. I like Tom Brewer, and he seems like a really nice guy; Bill Sutherland is a man of principle and he has no problem saying what he thinks. While I may not always agree, one must respect his honesty. Bill has been nothing but helpful when approached about a few Torrance oddities and that is also appreciated. I have previously written about my relationship with Pat Furey and as he has always been an advocate for children, both in his personal and professional life as well as having close to 25 years of civic involvement, I must endorse Pat for Mayor. A friend mentioned recently that Furey was the only Democrat of the three candidates so that is why she was voting for him. The Office of Mayor is not supposed to be a Republican versus Democrat ideology and the reality is, I do not know what political party Brewer and Sutherland belong to, but if party allegiance is important to how you cast your vote, I am relatively confident Furey is not a Republican.
The city council race is a little different. You have the opportunity to vote for up to four (4) of the 16 candidates. While I am not exactly endorsing anyone in this race, I still have to say something about it.
For the last year or so I have been making a point to attend as many of the weekly city council meetings as possible. This gives me the opportunity to speak up and present an opposing opinion if a matter comes up before the council. This has given me the opportunity to meet several of the city council candidates; it has also provided me with the ability to say, “Who?” when I see some of the lawn signs and junk mail promoting the election. I have had several people tell me I should run, but the fact of the matter is that I do not feel qualified. After all, I have only been attending the council meetings for a year. When I look down my absentee ballot at the 16 names that feel qualified to be a council member I am pretty amazed at the number of people listed that I have never heard of, or rarely see at the council meetings. When you read their campaign literature and suggest such things like they will keep parking meters out of Torrance, that should be your first clue that they are not qualified to hold any office since parking meters are not an issue in Torrance. There are no parking meters and there is no talk of installing them. Those candidates are creating issues out of non-issues and do not deserve your vote.
Of the 16 candidates running for the four seats there are only four candidates that I see at council meetings all the time. They are Kurt Weideman, Leilani Kimmel-Dagostino, Heidi Ashcraft and Mike Griffiths. Now, Weideman and Ashcraft are both “appointed incumbents” meaning that they were temporarily holding a vacated position. Naturally, this has given them an advantage as they get to see how things really work behind the scenes and they have had an opportunity to work with the other council members and sit on various committees. Kimmel-Dagostino and Griffiths have been to just about every council meeting I have been to and I know they were coming to meetings before I started. I think it is important that a candidate at least understand procedure and participate in the process; you cannot do that if you do not attend the meetings. I have heard some candidates say they watch the meetings on TV; that is all well and good but watching a meeting on television is nothing like being there. It is a little difficult to be heard if you are just screaming at your television set.
Now, to be fair, I have seen Aurelio Mattucci at a few council meetings, but I do not recall ever seeing him participate. Geoff Rizzo is the chairman of the Torrance Planning Commission, so maybe he has enough meetings to attend but Griffiths is also on the Planning Commission and he regularly shows up to council meetings as well.
So, do not forget to vote, this is a very important election for the City of Torrance. If you have an absentee ballot and need some help with it, feel free to drop it off; I will make sure your vote goes to the best qualified candidates.