April 24, 2018

Bobby Shriver Campaign Heats Up Supervisor Race as Voters Consider Their Choices


Will Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver end up in a runoff on November 4? We’ll see come the June 3 primary election.


Bobby Shriver Campaign Heats Up Supervisor Race as Voters Consider Their Choices

Candidate Bobby Shriver talks about preserving the Santa Monica Mountains from development with, from left, Don Wallace of ETI Corral 36 in Agoura Hills, Kim Lamorie, President of the Las Virgenes Homeowner’s Federation and music-industry author Randall Wixen.

Eight candidates have stepped up who think they can fill Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavky’s shoes.

Not to dismiss the other candidates, but the tightest race—and best funded—appears to be between former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver, a post he held for eight years and Sheila Kuehl, who spent 14 years in Sacramento, six as an assembly member and eight as state senator (See “Sheila Kuehl Fundraiser Renews Friendships and Support," Messenger, Vol. 38, No. 6, March 27, 2014).

At a fundraiser on March 29, at the Agoura Hills home of hosts Leah and Paul Culberg, Shriver spoke to concerns of land preservation, recounting his connection with a farm in Maryland where he lived as a child that was subsequently sold and “destroyed” through development.

When Shriver moved to California, it made sense that his first venture into public service might be the Park Service. “I realized there was no open space in urban LA and thought I would learn how to protect open space,” he said.

In 2001 Governor Davis appointed Shriver to the California State Park and Recreation Commission where as chairman, he won and protected one of our most pristine coastlines, San Onofre State Beach and Trestles surf break. He also helped create two state parks near downtown Los Angeles.

In 2004, Shriver was elected to the Santa Monica City Council by the highest percentage of voters in that city’s 120-year history. As a councilmember, he worked to balance every budget and helped retain the city’s AAA bond rating. He spearheaded the effort to clean up Santa Monica Bay, worked to support small businesses to create jobs and championed the living wage for hotel workers. He led the renovation and preservation of the Annenberg Community Beach House and helped to secure the $27.5 million given by the Annenberg Foundation.

He became Mayor in 2010 and continued his leadership to create housing and services for homeless people, particularly veterans.

“I want to run for supervisor because I became very interested in homelessness and mental health,” Shriver said. “We have the biggest veterans population in the U.S. with a lot of empty buildings. We [Santa Monica City Council] eventually filed a lawsuit and now the law will be changed. But it took us 10 years. If I get this job, I’ll make sure it takes less time.”

The key to this race, however, may lie with San Fernando Valley voters who make up two-thirds of the Third District population of 2,000,000 and comprise about half of the vote.

In comparison, tiny unincorporated Topanga may not seem significant except when taken in context.

More than 65 percent of the County—2,653.5 square miles—is unincorporated. For the one million people living in those areas, the Board of Supervisors is their "city council;" the supervisor represents the area’s “mayor.” County departments provide municipal services for about 140 unincorporated communities, with the largest number located in the north area.


Bobby Shriver Campaign Heats Up Supervisor Race as Voters Consider Their Choices

From left, Roger Pugliese of Topanga Association for a Scenic Community (TASC) and Joseph Rosendo, immediate past president of the Topanga Chamber of Commerce at the meet and greet event in Agoura Hills for Supervisor candidate Bobby Shriver.

With a number of hot issues to contend with—water use, transportation, taxes, homelessness, mental health—there are two controversial issues where Shriver makes his position clear: He is in favor of opening up the Board of Supervisors to more seats. “My goal is to make competition happen and let people know they [the supervisors] are susceptible to competition,” he said.

Shriver also supports the Local Coastal Plan that Yaroslavsky is shepherding through the approval process amid a storm of controversy from its critics. “I think the LCP is a significant piece of legislation,” Shriver said. “I have been a progressive problem solver all my life. I have gotten stuff done that couldn’t be done and I can do that in the County.”

As Shriver’s most significant rival, Kuehl was warmly received at a fundraiser in Topanga on March 16, and following a debate among five candidates on March 22, Kuehl was endorsed by the Pacific Palisades Democatric Club who hosted the event. Earlier in the month, the San Fernando Valley Democrats, a coalition of 27 Democratic clubs, endorsed her. At that time, she was also leading in fundraising, estimating that she expects to spend $1.7 million by June.

Shriver, on the other hand, has refused public financing and will be reaching into his own pocket to fund his race. Others who filed for the race include John Duran, West Hollywood City Council member; Pamela Conley Ulich, a lawyer and former Malibu mayor; Doug Fay of Santa Monica; Yuval Daniel Kremer of Los Angeles; Rudy Melendez of North Hollywood; and Eric Preven, ­ self-described county watchdog.

With so many candidates in the running, three of them—Duran, Kuehl and Shriver—all liberal Democrats, there isn't much choice for those with a more conservative outlook in the nonpartisan race. If no one wins more than 50 percent in the June 3 primary, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 4 runoff.

You can bet that all these hopefuls are praying for Yaroslavsky’s endorsement, but he hasn’t been forthcoming and says he probably won’t, adding that both Kuehl and Shriver are “very competent, very smart and dynamic people.”