The election campaign in Malibu for City Council became a little more interesting this week as the six candidates finally came under more personal and pointed questioning.
The emphasis here is on finally, for most of the forum until the last few minutes, was, frankly, not revealing. if the critical Giant Dodger game wasn’t blacked out for most, I doubt if the hometown drama at City Hall would have attracted a nearly packed house.
The questions were convoluted, diffidently delivered, aggravated by a fumbled sound system, that unfortunately, I feel, prompted predictable answers, and echoed a previous forum at City Hall awkwardly orchestrated by the Malibu Democratic Club.
In full disclosure as a registered Democrat, the less I comment about that evening that ended in a bungled ballot for a questionable endorsement, the better.
The latest forum was conducted by the Malibu Times, and featured its venerable editor Arnold York in uncomfortable command. He is a print journalist, not a broadcast journalist, and not at ease with direct questions and extracting clear answers. .
To be sure, the grilling came at the end of a long, and mostly mundane forum with the candidtes perching on the stage in the council chamber’s, as they all hope to do as elected members in a few months.
After throwing various softballs at the forum, York delivered a hard ball to Skylar Peak, citing his poor attendance record and his position on encroachments on Pt. Dume that had led to a wellspring of protests and an embarrassing reversal for the City Council.
Peak looking nonplussed replied he only missed a fraction of the meetings, albeit attendance at some were by phone. Modest applause
As for the charge Peak proposed the encroachments, he stated it was not he that did but a traffic consultant, and whatever he eventually voted against them. Silence.
Jennifer DeNicola was questioned if her relatively recent community advocacy, in particular battling the school district on PCBs, and now presumptuously running for the council, was just a bare political maneuver for a high political appointment or office. She stumbled through an answer, proclaiming her sincerity and love for her adopted home of Malibu. Scant applause.
York then turned to, or should I say turned on, Laureen Sills, asking if she as a councilperson would just be a complaint sidekick to her good friend, Laura Rosenthal. Sills replied with steely conviction that in her 30 years as an active, concerned resident she had many friends, many at times she disagreed with, and while listening and respecting all, would be fiercely independent. Strong applause
As for being independent, York asked Zuma Jay, given his resume as a former mayor and popularity, why he was running on a slate. with lesser lights Ouch. He replied because he generally agreed with Peak and Rick Mullen, though at time they will no doubt disagree. Scattered applause
Rick Mullen was questioned about his lack of credentials, citing in reply a thick resume that includes a long active residency that includes being a local fire chief and parent. Polite applause.
Carl Randall also was chided for his lack of identity. He, too, in reply cited his positions in the parks and school’s communities, And then there also was his family’s involvement, in particular his mother, Carol, who is well connected at City Hall. Strong but limited applause from the family.
However provocative, it is to York’s credit that these are the questions Malibu residents are asking. To the voter, the six appear to be in agreement on most issues, so it is frankly the hearsay the most likely swing the election.