Chamber to Host Council Candidates Forum Sept. 15

The Culver City Chamber of Commerce will host an online City Council Candidates Forum next Tuesday, September 15, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

All eight candidates – who are running for three seats on the City Council -- are expected to participate in the forum hosted on Zoom. They will answer questions pertaining to the business community, impacts of Covid-19, and detail their platforms and positions on local issues.

The Council hopefuls include Mayor Goran Eriksson, former Civil Service Commissioner Albert Vera, civic leader Freddy Puza, Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, Yasmine-Imani McCorrin, Darrel Menthe, Heather Wollin and Robert Zirgulis.

Following are condensed candidates' statements that were provided to the Chamber:

Mayor Göran Eriksson: Mayor Eriksson has been getting the job done. "From creating the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to championing the 5-year economic development action plan, to helping spearhead the local Feed Culver charity, Goran has proven to be a councilmember of action and progress." An immigrant from Sweden, Eriksson has lived in Culver City since 1987 and he now runs a small business with his wife Britta. "He embraces the necessity for Culver City to adapt to the future while maintaining its quality of life and his business background helps him understanding the city's financial needs." If re-elected to a second term in office, Eriksson will "continue to fight for responsible economic development, fiscal and environmental sustainability and public health and safety for everyone in our community."

Albert Vera: Vera has dedicated his life to helping Culver City thrive. He is the owner of the iconic Sorrento Italian Market and Vera Ranches, an industry leader in sustainable and organic farming. Continuing a legacy of leadership begun by his father, who served 12 years on the City Council, Vera is eager to bring his civic and business experiences to City Hall. Vera is a member of the Culver City Exchange Club and has served on both the Culver City Landlord/Tenant Mediation Board and the Culver City Civil Service Commission. He also serves on the Board of the Upward Bound House and the Culver City Palms Family YMCA Board of Managers, as well as given generously to a number of local organizations, including Culver City School District, Upward Bound House, Culver City Education Foundation, Saint Augustine Volunteer Emergency Services and Culver City Senior Center. "We face many challenges, but I know that together we can thrive. My goals on the Council will include stopping overdevelopment, reimagining public safety, redoubling our efforts to house the homeless, helping small businesses and bringing the best of sustainability practices to our city government."

Freddy Puza: A Culver City resident since 2011, Puza currently serves on the General Plan Advisory Committee and previously sat on the Committee on Homelessness. Freddy is a strong advocate for equity and inclusion, housing, and sustainability. If elected, he pledged to work with business, community, and elected leaders to ensure every resident is a part of Culver City's post-pandemic renaissance. Freddy is the Associate Director of Community Relations at LMU, where he is responsible for partnering with neighbors, businesses and elected officials on strategic initiatives. He co-founded the LMU chapter of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere, and served as the co-chair of the LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Network and as an Implicit Bias instructor. Freddy has "the skill set to navigate change in this historic moment and he is a community advocate who brings people together to solve problems."

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi: Dr. Gyi came to this country with her parents as immigrants when she was a teenager. "The opportunities in this country allowed me to thrive as a physician scientist, business woman and community activist. In addition, we have been challenged to the core by the pandemic, climate change and the economic adjustments related to these twin disasters. Extraordinary challenges require new leadership trained in medical knowledge, combined with an understanding of climate change that allows us to follow a path of a healthy recovery." As a practicing physician, Dr. Gyi continued: As recent events have strengthened our moral imperative, we can achieve our future goals with equity, inclusivity and fairness for all."

Yasmine-Imani McMorrin: McCorrin believes everyone deserves a community that values the well-being and safety of all who live, work, and play here. She is an attorney, education equity advocate, and mom. She works at the USC Gould School of Law as Interim Dean of Students and Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. "We often talk about the value of diversity in Culver City. But without making sure that everyone's experiences and voices are valued, we won't become the inclusive and equitable town we can be. I am especially interested in making sure that small businesses are able to thrive, because they are so vital to the economic health of our community. My vision as a Councilmember is to ensure that as our city recovers from the pandemic, we prioritize equity, making sure that everyone shares in the progress that we create together."

Darrel Menthe: A local resident since 2007, Menthe said: "I am running for City Council because I love this city. Both my children were born here and attend Culver City public schools. Culver City has been building a bright future and is becoming an economic powerhouse. I want to ensure we continue to build that future together despite the shocks of pandemic and recession. That means building housing, mobility options, and walkable neighborhoods. It means securing our city's finances as well as planning for a future that includes all the different communities who call Culver City home. As President of the Culver City Downtown Business Association, I understand that the success of the business community is vital to everything we want to accomplish in our city."

Heather Wollin: A second-generation Culver City resident, Wollin is a graduate of Culver City High School and have an associate's degree in Paralegal Studies from West Los Angeles College. "I work full time as a family law paralegal and I love what I do. It is my goal to bring back the community's faith and trust in our City Council by listening and working to ensure that all residents are represented. I am running to focus on local issues which include supporting the Culver City Police Department, Culver City Fire Department, helping small businesses and bringing fiscal responsibility back to our city council. It is my belief that by listening to all members of our community, engaging in more community outreach, and by having diverse thoughts and opinions, we can come up with ideas and policies that better the lives of all residents."

Robert Zirgulis: A 36-year resident of Culver City, Zirgulis is running for the City Council on the platform "to support our good cops and firemen who saved Culver City from the raging mob of looters and rioters that ravaged Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood. Instead of thanking our police, a vocal group of racists, radicals and cop haters is calling for the Defunding of our police by 50% and removing police from protecting our children in our schools. I am the common-sense candidate standing up to the Cancel Culture mob that tries to extort and intimidate anyone trying to defend our police and our city." A UCLA graduate with a Master's in Business from CSUN, Zirgulis have taught for 13 years in the Culver City School District. "Please vote for me if you want a common-sense fighter to protect our children, our first responders and Culver City."

The Chamber is urging residents to register for the Zoom meeting if they are planning to attend the forum as space is limited. Click the link below to register for the event and lock your place in our live City Council Candidates Forum.


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