City Council Candidates
Vote for Your Favorite on Tuesday
April 3, 2014
By Lynne Bronstein
After spending the most recent year of his council membership as Mayor, Jeff Cooper considers his first term in office as one of many accomplishments.
In his recent address at the Mayor's luncheon, Cooper noted: "Just a short time ago, we were on pace to out-spend our reserves in just three years....our city is socking away more reserves and pre-funding our pension liabilities, something we have never done before."
He lists among some of his proudest accomplishments the creation of new jobs "by aggressively pursuing the innovative, creative economy companies we want in Culver City," building a coalition to fight "the dangerous practice of fracking," making sure that the police and fire departments "have the resources they need to keep us safe," pursuing guidelines and incentives to encourage affordable housing, and making Culver City greener "by supporting environmentally friendly building practices, solar energy and rain gardens that cleanse stormwater runoff."
Cooper has also supported a ban on single-use plastic bags and has encouraged the city to continue its commitment to compressed natural gas (CNG) for the city's transportation fleet.
His actions also included voting to reduce the City Council's own medical benefits and along with his colleagues in the council, renegotiating contracts with all city unions to reduce benefits and pensions.
A resident of Culver City for almost 25 years, Cooper was elected to the City Council in 2010. Cooper had put in time as a member of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, as a member of the Exchange Club, and as a founding member of the Culver City Dog Park.
His list of supporters includes California state senator Holly Mitchell, former Culver City mayors Ed Wolkowitz, Paul Jacobs, Jozelle Smith, Christopher Armenta, and Steven Gourley, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, the Culver City Firefighters Association, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Sierra Club, Culver City Employees Association, and all five members of the current Culver City Board of Education.
Cooper says: "I want to continue the fight to protect our quality of life. I want to assure that our city remains on firm financial footing. I want to enhance our efforts to protect our vital resources and create new jobs to fuel our economy. I know that working together, we can continue to make a positive difference in the way Culver City government works for you."
A previous candidate for Board of Education, Gary Abrams likes to position himself as a candidate who is truly independent. He calls himself "the truth-teller of Culver City."
"I don't like politics," he told Culver City Patch in 2011, when he was running for School Board for the second time. "There's too much trickery going on. I don't want to call it lying, but it is lying. I know politicians, they are doing what they have to do because the pressure is on them to survive. They may start with good intentions, but that money starts corrupting them."
At candidates' forums, Abrams has called out the city for "lying" and for going for "quick fixes."
He wants to see more transparency in government. During the recent uproar about the closing of the Culver Ice Arena, Abrams took a firm stand in support of the ice rink and condemned the city for what he deemed suspicious behavior in regard to closing the arena on grounds of not being safe.
He supports rent control:" The incumbents have chosen to address rent control by saying, 'we will revisit it in the future.' I was born in the morning, but it was not this morning. The future would be after the election. You do not have to be a psychic to predict that their anti rent control stance will not change. What will have changed is the election will be over, and they will no longer be in danger of be unseated. It's election time. Now is the time to discuss the issues."
Abrams also supports affordable housing and more money for the schools.
A resident of Culver City since 1991, and a volunteer for several years at Linwood E. Howe Elementary, Abrams had never considered running for political office until he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Culver City Education Foundation for 2008-2009. At that time, a teacher suggested he run for School Board and although he was reluctant at first, the encouragement of several teachers and a glimpse of the Board in action at one of its meetings convinced Abrams to throw his hat into the ring.
He ran for School Board in 2009 and 2011
Abrams works as a registered nurse, as does his wife Belinda. They have a daughter and two sons.
His work at Linwood Howe encompassed many activities including "Field trip monitor, hearing and vision personnel. Kindergarten playground monitor, garden and grounds keeper. Run off copies, cut and assemble learning material. Peacemaker, parent and kid counselor. Assist in classroom, collect and check in homework, after school playground monitor. Too many to remember."
Abrams has received an endorsement from the Culver City Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Clarke has been described by his council colleague Andrew Weissman as "Mr. Everywhere." Since he was elected to the council in April 2012 to fill an unexpired term, he has attended meetings in every area of Culver City and on every possible topic. This may be because his original campaign slogan was: ""Listening to your concerns, responding to your needs."
Clarke says his new campaign theme is "Following through." He notes: "Besides showing up at events, I have also been responsive to your requests for assistance. These range from meeting with an entire neighborhood upset over the noise from the Expo train to visiting individual homeowners needing a tree trimmed or a street light repaired. My role has been to listen and then ensure that your concerns are addressed."
Clarke has a systematic list of comments on Culver City issues. In regard to available funds, he cites the half cent sales tax that the council passed in 2012 during his first term in office. "This allows us to keep our heads above water. But significant issues loom, and they will further challenge our capacity to maintain our fiscal security and stability."
On maintaining neighborhood integrity: "We have alleviated the parking problem by simplifying parking restrictions on neighborhood streets. We are also looking at reducing hours for street sweeping (to two hours from the current four) to open up more parking. And we are working with developers and landowners to build additional parking structures or use innovative parking techniques (such as automated or stacked parking) in our commercial areas to relieve pressure on neighborhood streets."
On the environment: "We recently passed a ban on the use of plastic bans that clog up our landfills, blow into our storm drains and eventually end up in Ballona Creek or Santa Monica Bay." Clarke also supports more oversight into fracking operations.
Clarke serves on the Council's Economic Development Committee with Weissman and played a leadership role along with Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells in developing the City's legislative advocacy program.
He holds a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach and a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He worked for 10 years as an executive recruiter for Korn/Ferry International and most recently, worked for Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa as Director, Mayor's Office of Grants.
A homeowner at Raintree since 1977, Clarke belongs to St. Augustine Catholic Church, the Culver City Historical Society, Culver City Chamber of Commerce and AMVETS Post #2. He supports the Culver City Sister City Committee, the Culver City Education Foundation, the Culver CityYouth HealthCenter, the Friends of the Culver City Library, Ballona Creek Renaissance and the Culver City Bicycle Coalition.
His supporters include current Congresswoman Karen Bass and former Congresswoman Diane Watson, state senator Holly Mitchell, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, the Culver City Democratic Club, and the Culver City Employees Association.
Christopher Patrick King
"I have a plan and vision for Culver City," says Christopher Patrick King. "I'm calling this plan CulverVision 2020: this will be the first time in decades that our city has invested in their future by planning for it."
King hopes that if elected, he will be able to implement this new master plan for the city by the year 2020; hence the name. "The process will involve engaging all community stake-holders to develop specific and measurable goals that address the following questions: where will we create more housing units? How many units of housing will we add and where will they go? What kind of businesses do we want to attract into Culver City? What kind of environment do we want to create in each part of the city and how do we ensure that we protect our environment in the process?"
He describes himself as an advocate for affordable housing, for gay rights and same-sex marriage equality, and as an opponent of fracking "because oil companies continue to hide behind claims of 'trade secrets' and refuse to list the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing methods. Studies are inadequate at present time, so we don't know the risks."
While he espouses his goals for the future, King also has an established record of working in the community for a long time. In February 2012, for example, King wrote on the blog "Culver City Progress" about the actions of "Shoes for the Homeless," a community group he belongs to.
"The mission of Shoes for the Homeless is to provide gently used and new shoes free of charge to the homeless," wrote King. "To do this, [ founder]Dr. [Ira] Diamond and his fellow board members (Rosalind La Briola and Christopher Patrick King) reach out to local shelters, identify need and set up shoe deliveries to these organizations with the only stipulation being that they give them out to their clients at no charge."
King went on to describe how a homeless man known as "John" received a new pair of shoes from Shoes for the Homeless, which enabled him to get a job.
King has served as president of the Culver City Rotary Club and acting vice chair of Culver City's Homelessness Committee.
King grew up in Salinas in a "tight-knit" family. He has often referred to his grandfather, "Nono" whom he watched receiving a Purple Heart from Congressman Sam Farr for surviving the Bataan Death March in World War II.
He is a graduate of UCLA with B.A.'s in Political Science and Sociology and is the founder of CPK Mortgage. King has lived in Culver City for eight years.
He is endorsed by, among others, former Culver City mayor Gary Silbiger, former School Board member Karlo Silbiger, current School Board member Nancy Goldberg, and Culver City Homelessness Committee members Dr. Karen Lamp, Dr. Ira Diamond, and Evlynne Braithwaite Householder.