QUERYING CULVER CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
October 29, 2020
What do you see as the most important issue affecting Culver City at this time?
How do you plan to address it as a Council Member?
Why do you feel you're especially qualified to deal with it?
What is your position regarding Measure B, rent control?
What is your position on the proposal to defund the Culver City Police Department by 50%?
Those were the questions this publication posed to the nine candidates shown on the Culver City website as contending for three open City Council seats to be filled for four-year terms. It was subsequently learned that ANTHONY RIZZO, who appears on the ballot, had dropped out of the race. Please refer to the websites of YASMINE McMORRIN (mcmorrinforculvercity.com) and FREDDY PUZA (freddypuza.com) for their priorities and positions. The responses of the other six remaining candidates are shown below. As space considerations often necessitate the editing of responses, it is recommended that readers visit the campaign websites for more information.
ALBERT VERA (veraforcouncil.com):
"Speeding the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is our most important issue, and I would address it by creating a local relief fund to help small businesses recover and reinvest, providing support to food-insecure families, halting and/or deferring financial tax and permit burdens placed on small businesses, and providing immediate rental assistance for impacted families.
"From feeding more than 16,000 food-insecure families to personally helping the homeless find permanent supportive housing, I have and will continue to roll up my sleeves and get the job done. On the landlord-tenant mediation board, I helped protect Culver City's renters. On the civil service commission, I made sure our city's union employees were treated fairly. At City Hall, I will make sure our city works for all of our residents.
"Regarding rent control, voters should decide such a critical and important issue, not just five council members with precious little public discussion. And slashing the police budget by 50% with no plan is unwarranted and irresponsible! We should invest in our police officers so they can focus on core public safety issues, review our use-of-force policies in conjunction with subject matter experts and partner with LA County to support our unhoused population and those with mental health needs.
The Defund vs. Defend debate is far too simplistic and serves only to divide our community."
DARREL MENTHE (mentheforculvercity.com):
"The most important issue facing Culver City right now is keeping our people safe and our businesses operating as much as possible. I have worked hard on this issue even before becoming a member of City Council by working for the street closure in downtown that has allowed restaurants to continue to operate with outdoor dining, maintaining jobs and the community character that makes living here so special.
"Another big issue, once things return to 'normal,' is we need to redouble efforts to reduce traffic and pollution by getting more people out of their cars. I was instrumental in implementing our first dedicated bus/bike lane as part of my commitment to make this a more livable city with more green space and a healthier environment.
"My experience working on these and other integral local issues as both a progressive community leader and President of the Downtown Business Improvement District is something that I think sets me apart from other candidates, and means I can hit the ground running when it comes to dealing with contentious issues like rent control and how to best ensure that all of our residents feel safe and protected."
ROBERT ZIRGULIS (robertzirgulisforculvercitycouncil.com):
"The most important issue affecting Culver City is the threat of having five extreme leftist members on the City Council that would have the illogical and irresponsible mindset of defunding our Culver City Police Department by 50%! What other crazy issues would they would espouse if they got elected?
"Our Culver City Police Department saved our city millions of dollars by pro-actively stopping the looters and rioters that ravaged Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. I am the only common sense candidate calling for a bonus to our police for saving our city from the rioters and looters. I will oppose any measure to defund our police, and stop paying consulting fees to a biased anti-police consultant that wants to demonize our police as a justification for defunding. I am the common sense candidate that will stand up to the Cancel Culture mob that tries to extort and intimidate anyone trying to defend our police and our city.
"I am a 36-year resident of Culver City and have taught for 13 years in our school district. The police in our schools have been a major deterrent from mass shootings that have occurred elsewhere. The Cancel Culture mob wants to get rid of them. I support Measure B because I think the voters should decide what kind of rent control they want to have."
KHIN KHIN GYI (gyiforculvercity.com):
"The most important issue affecting Culver City according to the most frequently asked question on all the Council forums appears to be public safety as it relates to the 'defunding the police vs. defending the police.' It appears to be causing the most discord, debate and division at any given candidates' forum. I plan to bring all the stakeholders to the table and hear everyone's point of view to see if we can agree to come up with the plan that provides a win-win solution for everyone.
"As a founding chief of neurology at Kaiser Baldwin Park 23 years ago, we underwent organizational efficiency training with classes in process mapping, etc., that helped us become the most efficient neurology department in the system at that time. I believe that we can deploy best practices methodology to solve our most acute problems of the day.
"A 'yes' vote on Measure B aligns with the principles of participatory democracy whereby each one of us deserves a seat at the table and that each of our votes counts. I do not support the proposal to defund CCPD by 50%, since the Acting Chief has voluntarily reduced his budget by $982,000.00."
GÖRAN ERIKSSON (erikssonforcouncil.com):
"The most important issue facing Culver City is the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. As Mayor of Culver City during the pandemic, I have been in a unique position to address the city's response and recovery programs.
"Recently I produced a city-wide public service announcement encouraging residents to wear a mask in public. I also created an Emergency Rental Assistance Program which is helping over 100 families keep their homes during the pandemic, and I spearheaded FeedCulver, which has provided over 20,000 free meals to food-insecure residents while supporting local restaurants. I believe my record of public service demonstrates my qualifications for office, and I will continue this important work if elected to a second term.
"I have endorsed Measure B because it is not my place to tell the city that it cannot vote on an issue as important as rent control. Measure B does not repeal renter protections because there are state laws and local policies already in effect in Culver City. I am against defunding the CCPD by 50% because it would not improve our police department and would make our city less safe."
HEATHER WOLLIN (heatherforculvercitycouncil.com):
"We need to tackle homelessness. We rely on Los Angeles County for assistance but they need to either do better to help us, or release the funds to allow us to do this ourselves. I have experience with the homeless through volunteer work and my aunt, who is periodically homeless due to drug issues and mental illness. Amazingly, the LA Department of Mental Health told me to forget about her and move on. With drug issues and mental illness rampant, I feel I can offer a fresh young perspective and a better understanding of homelessness.
"I am in favor of Measure B. As a renter, I know that rent control doesn't work. The money spent on rent control would be better spent on the rental assistance program, which actually helps low income families. Additionally, the current city measure is punitive. Many landlords who provide affordable housing say they may now have to accept developers' offers and sell, resulting in less affordable housing when we need it most.
"Hastily cutting 50% of the police budget could result in losing our city insurance, leaving us open to millions in potential lawsuits that could bankrupt our city. Our police must have the tools they need to keep our community, residents, and businesses safe as we continue to work on communication between our police department and our community."
Although we are living in troubling times with a critical national election imminent, it is also essential to know our local representatives since the City Council is charged with providing overall policy directions that serve to maintain and improve the quality of life in Culver City. The Observer acknowledges all eight candidates for their desire and commitment to be a positive force in the community. Additional information can be found in the Candidate Statements section of the Official Sample Ballot that was mailed in early October.
Be sure to thoroughly familiarize yourself with this intriguing and diverse slate of eight, choose those whose ideas and aspirations resonate with you and whom you feel you can trust regarding implementation, and give them your support by exercising your very precious right to VOTE. As Susan B, Anthony said, "Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it."