July 24, 2014

Sheila Kuehl Fundraiser Renews Friendships and Support in Topanga

 

PHOTO BY ANNEMARIE DONKIN MESSENGER 2014

Sheila Kuehl Fundraiser Renews Friendships and Support in Topanga

From left, Joseph Rosendo, immediate past president of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce; former CA State Sen. Sheila Kuehl; CA State Sen. Fran Pavley; host Gail McDonald-Tune; Dorothy Reik, president of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains and Bill Buerge, host and owner of the Mountain Mermaid.

A private fundraising brunch at the historic Mountain Mermaid on Sunday, March 16, raised more than $6,000 to support Sheila Kuehl’s run for L.A. County Third District Supervisor, replacing Zev Yaroslavsky who will term out this year.

Meredith Baxter and Nancy Locke; Bill Buerge and Gail McDonald-Tune; Pat and John MacNeil; Roger Pugliese; and Dorothy Reik hosted the event.

Sponsors were Hope Edelman and Wendie Malick.

Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall began the afternoon’s festivities with their rousing rendition of “This Land is Your Land” with a verse written especially to support Kuehl’s bid for Supervisor.

CA State Sen. Fran Pavley was the featured guest speaker.

“You could write a book about her accomplishments,” said Roger Pugliese, as he introduced Pavley. “She has Topanga as her second home; she loves Topanga, she loves the mountains.”

After everyone enjoyed Gail McDonald’s tasty “sandwich-fixin’s” brunch of organic cold cuts, finger foods, dips and desserts, Pavley spoke to the group of about 100.

“I started my campaign 15 years ago in this same place,” she said. “If you sing, ‘This Land is Your Land,’ you win elections; my heart will always be with Topanga, where it belongs.’”

Pavley then introduced Kuehl and reminded people how long she has served in public office.

“Kuehl’s 14 years in the California Senate and Assembly give her a vast understanding of government and the issues Supervisors face,” Pavley began. “She had 171 bills signed into law in the California Assembly; she worked with three Governors and two of them were Republicans. She represents the innovative, inclusive and substantive leadership we need in our elected officials.”

Pavley recounted Kuehl’s many victories in the California Legislature, among them paid family leave, reducing nurse-to-patient ratios and a law requiring developers building more than 500 houses to identify a source of water.

“She has a strong environmental record second to none, with [acquisitions of] Ahmanson Ranch and King Gillette Ranch, the cleanup of the Santa Monica Bay, and working with me and Supervisor Yaroslavsky to save nearly 20,000 acres of open land in the Santa Monica Mountains,” Pavley said.

She noted that Kuehl is very engaged in slowing traffic on Topanga Canyon Boulevard and designating it a scenic highway and in increasing traffic control on Pacific Coast Highway.

“We shouldn’t gamble on the Santa Monica Mountains,” Pavley said. “We need someone who has a proven record.”

Sheila Kuehl then took the microphone to thunderous applause.

“I want to thank all of you for being here,” she said. “Topanga knows how to show up and make sure this part of the world is protected; remember, I worked directly with Fran Pavley and Supv. Yaroslavsky to get money for the Santa Monica Mountains.”

For nearly half an hour, Kuehl discussed her reasons for running and her positions on issues ranging from homelessness to the environment with straight, honest answers.

She reminisced that as an attorney and law professor, she never really thought of running for office but was “amazingly wrong” after she observed laws being made in the California legislature and realized, “Hell, I can do this; it’s all about the law.”

Kuehl pointed out that in addition to Yaroslavsky in December, Mike Antonovich and Gloria Molina would be termed out by 2016, and there will be a lot of new faces coming in.

“The most important thing in this race is experience,” Kuehl said, reminding the group that five County Supervisors control a $25 billion budget and have responsibilities for more than 10 million people. “This is not an entry-level position.”

“If Los Angeles County were a state, it would be the eighth largest in the country,” she said.

With a population of two million people, the Third District alone encompasses half of the San Fernando Valley west to Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Westside, Beverly Hills, the Fairfax District, Universal Studios and Griffith Park.

Kuehl then invited questions from the audience.

Dianne Porchia, president of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, asked what Kuehl could do at the county level to stimulate business in Topanga.

“The County has city responsibilities in unincorporated areas like Topanga and Universal City to help small businesses,” Kuehl said. “We would make other areas along the coast feel like Topanga is their best ‘back yard.’”

Joseph Rosendo, immediate past president of the Chamber, asked about slowing traffic and designating Topanga Canyon Boulevard as a Scenic Highway.

“[In a campaign] can promise anything,” Kuehl said. “I have always been accessible, but I can say, ‘figure out how to do it; about realistically getting it done.’”

She also took questions about the slow traffic light at Pine Tree Circle and the issue of Caltrans eliminating the use of herbicides to control weeds along Topanga.

“These seemingly small issues are very important to local residents,” Kuehl said. “Yes, working together we can have the best solution; I generally raise my money people-to-people. I support Topanga and the people who care about the mountains.”

Other concerns involved solving the issue of “Creekers,” the homeless population of Topanga.

Kuehl spoke of creating more low-income and affordable housing units for individuals and families, as well as providing adequate shelter for the homeless population through a program called Housing First.

“You can scale up the program and have permanent housing and services throughout the County,” she said.

Kuehl has addressed other issues in previous visits to Topanga: “I’m against fracking and I support a ban,” she said at a Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM) meeting in October 2013, that is already endorsing Kuehl for Supervisor well before she faces any opposition from rival candidates, among them former Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver.

“We enthusiastically endorsed Sheila and made a large donation,” said Dorothy Reik, president of the PDSMM. “Just as many great progressives really represent all of us, so will Sheila. Los Angeles needs her back!”

Donations are always welcome. Checks may be made payable to “Kuehl for Supervisor 2014,” and mailed to: Sheila Kuehl, c/o TAI Events, 13636 Ventura Blvd., #416, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Please write the host name in the memo and include your occupation and employer to facilitate donation processing. Donations support Kuehl For Supervisor 2014, FPPC #1355019.