This is the last installment in a series of Redondo Beach City Council candidate profiles. Below are snapshots of the District 4 candidates, in the order they appear on the ballot. Voters hit the polls on Tuesday, March 5.
Library commissioner Jan Jeffreys believes she is well-positioned for a seat on City Council because she has “the experience, credentials, education and the time to serve.”
About nine years ago, Jeffreys started volunteering at Perry Park, across the road from her townhouse. She organized parties and events for seniors – a demographic with a special place in her heart, given her own parents passed away when she was young.
That led to a higher level of community engagement, and in the early 2000s she started attending public meetings for the Heart of the City project and becoming involved with fundraising campaigns for the Redondo Beach libraries.
Eventually, Jeffreys was appointed library commissioner, a position that enabled her to focus on fundraising for the North Branch, which is located in her district.
If elected, she will prioritize safety, community integration – “I’m big on getting to know who your neighbors are,” she said – and stimulating business development along Artesia Blvd. and at the South Bay Galleria.
She wants to use her marketing experience – she spent years heading Mattel’s marketing department – to highlight events that will bring people out of their homes and into relationship with each other, and that will attract out-of-town visitors to Redondo Beach.
Jeffreys also wants to shine more light on the needs and concerns of North Redondo residents.
“When I first moved here this was ‘Redondo Beach’ and I don’t know if it’s just me but I’m hearing more often the term ‘North Redondo,’ so there’s this segregation,” she said. “I’d like to eliminate that because we’re supposed to be one big happy family.”
Jeffreys announced publicly in January that she had not yet taken a position on Measure A, but has since made a decision.
“We have to stand back and look at the big picture and get the emotions out of the way,” she said. “If we allow [AES] to build a power plant chances are we’ll have that for the next 50 years.”
She worries that if AES is denied a permit to generate power, it will sell its property to a developer that might build condominiums on the beachfront site, spelling more traffic and more pollution.
“We have enough congestion here so the bottom line is let’s breathe clear air and vote yes on Measure A,” she said.
The day Manhattan Beach bartender Cori Desmond was murdered near his Redondo Beach home, Stephen Sammarco moved public safety to the top of his list of priorities.
It is an issue he has been vocal about in his campaign to become the District 4 representative on the Redondo Beach City Council.
“We need to re-prioritize public safety to be number one every day, not just on Election Day,” he said.
He has said his overarching goal is to “put more police on the street.” At a candidates’ forum in January, he suggested the city regionalize Redondo SWAT and divert the funds retained to the Redondo Beach Police Department.
He said his focus on public safety stems from his concern for the wellbeing of his two young children.
Sammarco, 44, owns The Sammarco Group, a Redondo Beach consulting firm that designs election campaigns, conducts policy and budget analysis, and plans community outreach. He has run campaigns for elected officials, organizations, and ballot initiatives in cities all over Southern California.
“I have experience in making something out of nothing,” he said. “I know how to make money for cities; that’s what they call me in to do.”
Sammarco has a master’s in public finance and 15 years’ experience studying public policy. He believes education should be the city’s priority, as it affects employment opportunities, crime rates, and property values.
“Why aren’t we focusing on the one thing that can relieve all three of those problems? That thing is education,” he said.
Sammarco has promised to contribute half of what his campaign raises to the Redondo Beach Unified School District and to reject the city’s taxpayer-funded healthcare package.
He advocates declaring Artesia Blvd. a business improvement district to “show other businesses how serious North Redondo is about building business” and wants to see a sign pointing to the beach installed near the Artesia freeway exit.
He opposes Measure A and believes if it passes the city will have to reckon with “a room full of lawyers that will take us to the cleaners.”
“What this initiative is trying to do is rezone the land so we can take it away from AES,” he said. “I’m against the whole principle of it.”
Sammarco believes the city of Redondo Beach should ask AES for favors, like funding for a trolley car to travel between Artesia and the waterfront.
Julian Stern has been intent on serving as the District 4 council member since he was nine years old.
“I’ve been interested and involved for as long as I can remember,” he said. “Change happens at the local level so if I want something done I won’t get it done as a member of Congress.
“I can get things done on City Council. I want to continue the good path Redondo is on. I want to be part of the new generation that ensures it keeps running, and running well.”
He says “new generation” because he is 18 and a student at Environmental Charter High School. Initially the city advised him to run as a write-in candidate, but on the day of the deadline to file papers, Stern drove to the county registrar in Norwalk to get proof of his status as a registered voter. Two hours before the deadline, he was successful in getting his name onto the ballot.
A native of Redondo Beach, Stern has for years been reading the city’s codes and charter, studying its budget, meeting with its movers and shakers, and reading local newspapers.
“What sets me apart is I have the utmost desire to serve the community and I have for a long time,” Stern said. “I have no ulterior motive whatsoever. This is not a stepping stone to mayor, to assemblyman, to congressman. This is where I want to be; this is where I want to make a difference.”
His three priorities are to ensure government is transparent, efficient and responsive; to improve resident quality of life; and to encourage economic activity.
“I think what a lot of candidates lack is a specific plan and detailed ideas,” he said. “They stop at buzzwords like public safety but I have a plan.”
He will focus on balancing the budget, improving public transportation, and making sure bureaucrats are “working for the residents” and maintaining accountability to their employers – the taxpayers of Redondo Beach.
Stern is concerned about public safety, but believes that there are lower-cost solutions to cutting crime than re-hiring police officers. They include expanding neighborhood watch programs, supporting volunteers in policing, and educating the public to reduce preventable thefts.
He believes Measure A is a “money pit.”
“I don’t think ballot box planning is the way to get rid of the power plant,” he said. “That’s not the way to do it. If Measure A [passes] I’ll help out as much as I can and if the residents vote no I’ll sit down with AES to talk about what’s best for them and what’s best for the city.
“I don’t think compromise is a dirty word. I think we’re not going to get anything done without compromise.”