Mark Wetton, a Pepperdine alumnus, is running on a platform of environmental stewardship. With experience on the parks and recreation commission, Wetton is also a financial manager of a family trust with experience in business and real estate, as well as an avid surfer and mountain biker.
This is an abridged version of a much longer Q&A. We encourage our readers to read the text, in full, here.
In five words or less, what is the theme of your campaign?
Environment, public safety and community, with emphasis on environment
Tell me about your history in Malibu.
I came to Malibu in 1978 to attend Pepperdine. Right away, I got involved in the community. They were looking for student volunteers to help sandbag homes inundated with flood water. We ended up starting an organization that went on to do other community service projects, like removing graffiti along Malibu Canyon. I ended up marrying a girl from Malibu. I’ve been here ever since and raised my family here.
What prepares you to take on this role?
I have a finger on the pulse of what the community needs. People have been fighting for the environment all the way back from when Rhoda May Rindge held off the railroad and the highway with armed posses. I’m a surfer and mountain biker. I was appointed to the parks and rec commission by [Council Member] Jefferson Wagner so I know my way around the city a little bit. I personally know many of the city council people that have gone before me. Between all that, I’m prepared to become a leader in the city.
You wrote that you’d like to see us try some new methods and innovative ideas to control traffic. Can you tell me what these innovative ideas are?
A lot of people on loud motorcycles and cars think PCH and the canyon are racetracks ... We really haven’t pushed the noise ordinance issue. I spoke with two of our local representatives [sheriff’s department officials], James Braden and Chuck Becerra. The sheriff’s department has a training program where they can train their deputies to identify after-market exhaust on cars and motorcycles. If we can get teams of deputies out here on the weekends that are trained to identify after-market exhaust, we can issue expensive fix-it tickets that can be at least revenue neutral, if not revenue positive. We can make those tickets expensive, send a message and the revenue would help pay for that additional enforcement.
The City Manager is predicting there’s going to be a crisis in the budget next year. Where would you propose to cut from the budget?
What usually ends up happening is you cut staff and programs that are nonessential. Arts and recreation usually hit the cutting room floor. But I think we can set up partnerships like universities and museums and get wealthy donors that would like to see a performing arts center, for example. We have more entertainment people per capita in this town than anywhere else and we don’t even have a movie theater.
What do you think is the No. 1 issue facing Malibu today and what are you going do in your first year in office to tackle it?
I think that the environment is the No. 1 problem that we have short-term and long-term. This council is going to be looking at what we do with these properties that the city owns ... We should be looking to our mission statement as the determining factor on how we go forward. Our mission statement says that we want to maintain our rural character and that we’re willing to forgo certain conveniences and amenities to preserve open space. Obviously, we have lots of other problems to be working on simultaneously. But I think if we don’t have our rural character, the rest of it will be a footnote, at the end of the day.
OK. And in your first year in office, to tackle it—
I’m pretty sure that there will be agendized discussion about what to do with these properties. I pray we get an environmentally leaning city council, meaning three or more people on the council that agree with our mission statement that we want not to increase hardscape and needless commercial development.
What sets you apart from other candidates?
All day long in my business, I solve problems. I can bring that expertise to the council in a wide range of areas from finance to insurance to property management. I’ve got the right temperament to be able to work with others and build consensus. Some of the other candidates that are running, quite frankly, can be divisive ... and maybe are too single-minded about certain issues. I don’t think we want divisiveness. We want a council that puts the mission statement first and then rolls its sleeves up to solve problems.
You were endorsed by [Mayor] Mikke Pierson. Do you feel like people who like the way Malibu’s council is operating right now should vote for Mark Wetton? Or do you think things would change if you came in?
I would hate to be viewed as a vote for the status quo. I’m running because I want to make change. We had a group of city councilors that were elected in the last couple of elections based on or two issues, and many people are now disillusioned. That slate of candidates didn’t live up to how they were advertised. I’ve always been the guy that what you see is what you get. There are a lot of things that can change about running the city and I hope to make those changes or at least be part of that change. But do it in a way that is not divisive.