The Malibu Democratic Club (MDC) hosted a forum for Democratic candidates looking to replace Senator Fran Pavley in the next election. Pavley is terming o ut of her 27th District Senate seat and leaves some very big shoes to fill.
Following the two-hour forum, moderated by local author/activist Lance Simmens in front of a packed house, MDC members voted to endorse Malibu native Henry Stern.
Although six Democratic candidates are running for the office and were all invited to participate in the MDC forum, only four showed up. Henry Stern, Janice Kamenir-Reznik, David Pollock and Richard Mathews attended the forum, while Shawn Bayliss and George C. Thomas were absent. Only one Republican is seeking the office: Steve Fazio.
The 27th District voter registration is 43.1 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican, 23.6 percent independent and the rest “other,” making it a pretty tough district for any Republican to win.
Candidate Matthews is a software engineer, “progressive” Democrat and scientist who has been involved in politics his “whole life.” He’s concerned about the Porter Ranch gas leak, science education and global warming. He wrote the state party’s position on phasing out all nuclear power in California and wants to restore Glass-Steagall type banking protections. Matthews is in favor of a $15 per hour minimum wage, debt-free college education and fair trade, but against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Kamenir-Reznik, an attorney for 22 years representing small businesses, co-founded a nonprofit organization to fight genocide in Africa and help survivors, served as president of the California Women’s Law Center (co-founded by L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl), and served as president of California Women Lawyers. She has a long list of endorsements that include U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Kuehl and former LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The issues she cares about include the environment, families, domestic violence and criminal justice.
Currently the Mayor Pro Tem of Moorpark, Pollock said his city shares many of the same values as Malibu, including the desire to protect open spaces and preserve a rural lifestyle. A business consultant, he’s been elected four times to the board of the Moorpark Unified School District, was president of the California School Boards Association, and is currently on the Ventura County Air Pollution Control Board, the Energy & Environment Committee of the Southern California Association of Governments, and the Board of Simi Valley Hospital.
Native Stern was raised in Malibu, attended Malibu schools and went on to graduate from Harvard University and UC Berkeley School of Law. He currently serves as senior policy advisor to State Senator Fran Pavley, working on legislation and policies related to the budget, drought, education, public safety and energy, and also analyzes how decisions in Sacramento affect the 27th District. If elected, he said he has every intention of continuing her work. Stern also has a long list of endorsements, including Pavley, U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, former U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman and State Assemblyman Richard Bloom.
Each candidate was given a limited amount of time to respond to questions on varied topics, including the Porter Ranch gas leak, fracking, the drought and Governor Brown’s proposed “water tunnels” project, nuclear power plants, PCB contamination in schools, money in politics, development (as related to Measures R and W), and the firing of Charles Lester from the California Coastal Commission.
On the Porter Ranch gas leak issue, Stern said he’s been “writing the legislation” put forth by Pavley that basically says, “You must inspect before you inject.” He also questions why developers never told homeowners about the dangers of living on top of gas wells.
“We’ve given a monopoly to this utility — it was outrageous that they were allowed to self-regulate,” Kemenir-Reznick said. She also endorses Pavley’s bill, which would test 115 wells, shutting them down until they could be tested.
All four of the candidates were in basic agreement on most of the issues — fracking must be better regulated, the license for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant should not be renewed, Citizens United needs to be overturned and children shouldn’t be allowed in classrooms contaminated with PCBs.
Questions were then opened to the audience, who asked about their positions on GMO food labeling, the death penalty, neighborhood drug rehabs, development, oil and gas regulation, and an independent Malibu school district. Most were in agreement. Stern favors the death penalty in certain egregious cases, while the others don’t. All support Malibu’s bid for an independent school district.