November 24, 2014

“Old Topanga Canyon” Activist Jody Thomas Runs for Calabasas City Council

 

PHOTO COURTESY JODY THOMAS

“Old Topanga Canyon” Activist Jody Thomas Runs for Calabasas City Council

Activist and community volunteer Jody Thomas is challenging three sitting council members in Calabasas.

In order to present their cases for the Calabasas municipal election on Tuesday, March 5, four contenders for three open seats on the City Council met in a series of public forums in January to share their ideas and discuss issues.

While all of the candidates agreed on a balanced budget, safe schools and maintaining their unique and comfortable lifestyle, one candidate stood out as advocating true openness and transparency in the Council.

The special election pits community activist and volunteer Jody Thomas against three incumbents: Mayor Mary Sue Maurer, and Councilmen James Bozajian and David Shapiro.

If Thomas had not challenged the incumbents, there would be no election, as the three current council members would simply be reappointed to the council for another term.

“After the appointment of (James Bozajian's personal attorney) David Shapiro last January, I authored the ‘Right to Vote’ initiative,” Thomas said. “The initiative assures that vacancies on the City Council will be filled by a special election (at the next regularly scheduled election) instead of by appointment.”

The Calabasas City Council has a lot of ground to make up to restore its reputation developed over the past few years by passing building codes and septic ordinances that targeted residents, many of them senior citizens, living in older homes with septic systems.

“I recently led the campaign to rescind the
city's Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) ordinance and was
instrumental in the abandonment of the sewer extension
that threatened the [Old Topanga Canyon] scenic corridor that would have
unnecessarily cost Calabasas taxpayers millions,” Thomas said.


Describing herself as the “voice of the people,” Thomas said that if elected she will use her experience dealing with municipal affairs to help maintain a balanced budget, improve relations between residents and the city, preserve open space and restore the hometown feeling that the residents enjoy.

“I’ve been involved with city issues for more than 20 years, speaking on behalf of residents on a myriad of subjects. I’ve been standing up for the residents of my community because I do love Calabasas and I believe that our unique way of life is worth preserving,” Thomas said.

As president of the Old Topanga Homeowner’s Association, she has advocated for residents in the older homes in the Calabasas area, especially those targeted by the restrictive and draconian city ordinances, specifically OWTS, targeted at those residents in older homes with septics.

“I'm running for Council to return transparency to our governance and to assure the respect and recognition of all of our city's residents,” Thomas said.

At their February 12 meeting, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party endorsed only one candidate—Jody Thomas.

Additionally, State Sen. Fran Pavley, the Los Angeles County Fire Fighters and the Topanga Association for a Scenic Community (TASC) also endorsed Thomas.

Many residents of the city were outraged when, due to a vacancy, the council simply appointed another councilmember instead of calling for a special election.

“While being the only challenger in this race is a dubious honor at best, if I had not decided to run, there would have been no election,” Thomas said. “The seat of an elected official would have been handed over for four years to a man who had never received a single vote,” Thomas said.

“Calabasas voters should have the right to actually elect their elected officials; the City of Thousand Oaks passed an identical ordinance last year after issues of cronyism appointments plagued their city council as well.”