4 candidates vying for District 1 seat on Redondo Beach City Council
Below are snapshots of each candidate running for the District 1 seat in the March 5 election, in the order they appear on the ballot.
Dianne Prado is interested not in “playing the political game” but in helping real people to address their real-life problems.
Prado’s biggest priority is to “change the political atmosphere,” to bring politics into every home, and to give the voice back to the people.
“It’s not about politics; it’s about what’s happening in our community. Let’s have a conversation about it,” she said.
The 32-year-old lawyer was raised by her Colombian parents to be compassionate; she grew up going on mission trips and attributes that early exposure to poverty to her “passion to help those who are less fortunate.”
In law school, Prado became “more actively involved in the political environment,” attended protests, worked at a domestic violence clinic, and studied and interned abroad. She found her horizons broadened and her understanding enhanced. After graduation Prado had the opportunity to work at a “mid-size civil litigation firm,” but felt it wasn’t for her.
“My heart is in trying to help people and if it means I’m taking a huge pay cut, that’s what it means,” she said.
She now works at a non-profit firm, representing homeless veterans and families living below the poverty line. Prado has a “huge heart for the homeless,” and believes “the reality is there is a homeless population, and we need to open our eyes and realize we can’t just ignore them.”
(Police Chief Joe Leonardi has said officers spend a significant portion of their time dealing with the homeless population in Redondo Beach.)
Prado believes, first and foremost, in addressing the concerns of less vocal residents and in people before profits.
“As I’ve been walking around, door-to-door, I’ve had people tell me that once I get that [seat] my opinion will change. I don’t think so. I’m not going to compromise who I am,” she said.
She wants to “ask the hard questions, the questions that are going to make people think” about where public monies are going and why.
She embraces Measure A and opposes the rebuilding of the Harbor Drive power plant.
“Other candidates give the politician lines, you know, ‘whatever is the will of the voters’ and it sounds pretty,” she said. “But you’ve got to take a stand on issues. Maybe some voters won’t like you and maybe you won’t win, but you’ve got to stand up for what you believe in… I’m not going to compromise who I am and say things just to garnish votes.”
Prado believes she can be a voice for the people who “don’t know about what’s going on, and who don’t know where to turn.”
She said she will prioritize public safety, but believes it is more important to educate people than to increase the size of the police force. Regarding police budget cuts, she is most concerned about the “human element – that 18 police officers lost their jobs, and were they compensated, and was it enough to feed their families?”
Jeff Ginsburg believes his greatest strengths are building consensus and working efficiently.
Ginsburg, who has been in property management for 25 years, said these are carry-over skills he gained doing a job that requires him to work with both landlords and tenants and to be, quite literally, in the middle.
“I build good relationships with people,” he said. “What I’ve noticed with some of the city councils [is] they seem to really get on right and left sides of certain things, but I’m someone that’s good about bringing people together and building consensus.”
Ginsburg, 49, first became interested in politics when he helped Councilmember Steve Aspel with a door-to-door campaign four years ago. He’d been on the Riviera Village Business Improvement District (BID) board for a decade, taken a Leadership Redondo class with the “movers and shakers of the town,” and was public works commissioner, but not until that campaign did he realize how many people he knew and how familiar he had become with the workings of city government.
“I know most the Riviera Village merchants – I call it Mayberry, you know all your neighbors and that kind of thing. All my experiences came together and I said to myself, ‘You know, in four years I should do that.’ I finally got serious and decided this was really the time to do it,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg believes in “thinking out of the box” to reach tangible solutions. He cites as evidence of this philosophy his spearheading of the Riviera Village BID board’s decision to replace all traditional filament light bulbs in the village with LED cable lights. That idea, he said, encountered initial opposition but ultimately saved the board thousands of dollars in electricity and labor costs.
Ginsburg is a proponent of renewable and alternative energies and, having leased a hydrogen fuel cell car, believes the city and AES should consider the possibility of replacing the current power plant with an emissions-free plant given the technology exists today.
“Stranger things have happened,” Ginsburg said, laughing.
He does not support Measure A but will accommodate the wish of the majority.
“I think Measure A is going to create more harm than good if it goes through just because while the intent is good, the structure of Measure A is taking away landowner rights… There’s no way, in my opinion, a multibillion dollar company is just going to say ‘Oh, you changed the zoning. ‘Bye, here’s the keys.’ I just don’t believe that’s going to be the case.
“At the same time, if the people vote in Measure A and essentially say we are not concerned about the cost, even thought that goes against my best judgment, if the people vote it in I’m working for the people and I will support their decision,” he said.
Jim Light, an aerospace engineer and chairman of the citizen’s group Building a Better Redondo, is campaigning on his “10-year track record of defending resident quality of life.”
He believes Redondo Beach can again become “a crown jewel of the South Bay rather than the derisive term that sister cities call it: Recondo Beach” if its leaders pursue quality development and spurn over-development.
“I’m not anti-development and I’m not anti-business; I just think we need to have a better balance in our town between developer profits, a good business climate, and quality of life for the residents. For too many years the ball has swung toward developers first, businesses second and residents get the third bite of the apple,” Light said.
“I’m very pro-business – this town can’t function without business – but we’ve been going about it the wrong way.
By attracting good root businesses, we can prosper without over-development.”
Light, 53, was the “leader in a movement that stopped the Heart of the City” and wrote a 90-page analysis of the city’s plan to allow 189 condos on Torrance Blvd, which helped to arrest it. He co-authored Measure DD, which gives residents the right to vote on zoning changes the city makes, and is also co-author of Measure A. Light has been leading a vocal campaign against the power plant in recent years and is also passionate about the waterfront revitalization project, which he believes will require solid leadership from the city council.
He believes the city will need to “do some heavy lifting in providing the right incentives to attract quality foundational businesses” to settle on the waterfront (and potentially the AES site). He suggests the city target the pier and Harbor Drive sites for an institution like a marine science center, a resort hotel, or a major campus for the film, medical, or aerospace industries.
Another issue close to Light’s heart is the potential removal or sequestration of the L.A. Air Force Base, his former place of employment, because he worries either action will cut jobs, depress property values and shrink economic activity. He spent over 13 years in the Air Force competing and administering government contracts and planning and executing large government budgets – skills he said are transferable to a city council position.
Between his full-time job and his political campaign, Light still finds time to do what’s important to him: “Get on the computer either trying to inform the public, do analysis and raw research on data I’ve gotten, or generate responses like the 30-page response I turned into the CEC [California Energy Commission] about the glaring holes [in AES’ application to re-build its plant].”
“I have dedicated for the last 10 years a significant portion of my life to fighting for the residents. [Being elected] will give me a better platform to accomplish what I want to do for the residents… This is a natural extension of what I’ve been doing for years,” he said.
Kimberly Fine considers a seat on the city council an opportunity to serve not her own interests but those of her community. As part of that promise, she is refusing to accept taxpayer-funded fringe benefits or a pension.
“I think what sets me apart from other candidates is that I really look at city council as a means of community service,” Fine said. “I know how serious it is and I know that it does become political but I look at it as community service and meeting the different needs of residents and businesses…I’m not doing this for any kind of self-interest.”
Fine, 45, owns a business that specializes in insurance brokerage and providing organizational and time management support. She said she will prioritize aiming to increase business activity in Redondo Beach if elected.
Fine names public safety and local business as her primary priorities. She is proud to have earned the endorsement of both the Redondo Beach Police and Fire Departments, and said she moved to Redondo Beach 12 years ago because of its public safety record.
“I was really pleased to see 115 officers for Redondo Beach, and now we’re down to 84 and that number could drop… I believe in the domino effect,” she said. “When you don’t have a strong foundation everything kind of crumbles. I believe public safety really is one of the pillars a city is built on and I believe by having a phenomenal public safety record you will make families feel secure, you will attract business, and everything can just blossom.”
She pointed to the interconnectedness of public safety and economic development and said she fears that when crime hits the South Bay Galleria, people shop at Del Amo instead, which has a “tremendous impact on our commerce.”
She is conscious that there are many vacancies along the PCH corridor in District 1 and believes that some of the businesses located there have “literally been devastated” by crime and loitering.
That, for her, is a reality that hits close to home. Fine took the reins as captain of her Neighborhood Watch group two years ago, after her street experienced 13 robberies in several months.
“We have a tendency to create a false sense of security when we live in a beautiful place…we may walk the dog and leave the back door open and come home 20 minutes later and realize somebody came in when we were gone,” she said.
For that reason, Fine considers it vitally important that government, police, and community groups work together to increase safety awareness.
Though her campaign is focusing on her district, Fine said, she is prioritizing not one part of Redondo Beach but all of it. By focusing on one part of the city or one major issue, the city council risks “other things falling through the cracks.”
Regarding Measure A, she has said she sees “both sides of the issue” and will “honor the vote of the people.” ER