Mayor Patrick “Kit” Bobko thinks that he should be voted back onto the council dais on November 5 because of the things he’s accomplished in the past seven years, not just because of the things he promises to do.
“A reputation isn’t made on what you’re gonna do,” said Bobko in an interview. “It’s made on what you’ve done. And look at my accomplishments, the upper pier [revitalization], the oil settlement – these are accomplishments that I’m very proud of and I would very much like to be involved in decisions going forward…decisions we’re going to live with for the next 100 years.”
His proudest accomplishment since becoming a councilmember in 2006 is being a part of the negotiations that settled the $750 million McPherson Oil settlement that potentially could have bankrupted the city.
“Folks need to remember that the settlement saved us,” said Bobko. “If we had gone to trial on that case, there were a number of outcomes that were catastrophic to the city. We’ve taken those off the table, now the voters get to make the choice.”
Bobko, a 43-year-old lawyer and partner at Richards Watson and Gershon, serves as a prosecutor for cities all over Southern California, litigating on behalf of cities in what he calls, “California’s marijuana wars.” He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he was an F-16 maintenance officer. He also graduated from the University of South Carolina and George Washington University, where he studied law. In 2011 he ran for Jane Harman’s congressional seat, a position eventually won by Democrat Janice Hahn.
“I don’t intend to run for Congress again,” Bobko said. “I was playing in the big leagues; I got a graduate level education in politics.”
For Bobko, running for city council is important because he wants to follow through with the projects he has been working on for the past seven years, and see Hermosa’s oil issue solved conclusively.
“It’s an important time in history where we’ll be making legacy decisions,” said Bobko. “I feel like the city needs leadership and I’m honored to serve and continue to serve and represent the residents of Hermosa Beach as we move forward making those decisions together.”
One of the more important issues for him is managing the city’s finances properly.
“People think the economy has turned and we’re in a much better place, but our costs continue to grow and our city has a limited ability to bring business in. We need to figure out how to deliver high-quality services to our residents in an efficient and cost-effective way,” said Bobko.
He said that oftentimes the council focuses on the Pier Plaza area at the exclusion of other areas.
“There are other parts we should look at, like PCH and the east part of Hermosa, it’s really an artery for the South Bay,” said Bobko, who added that the majority of sales tax in the city comes from the Pacific Coast Highway area.
An important part of being in a leadership role in the city for Bobko is examining all aspects of the issues, especially the upcoming potential E&B Oil Project.
“I’m committed to being an unbiased clearinghouse of fact for the residents,” he said. “Right now there’s a very vocal group that believes oil in every circumstance is bad for the city, and that is fine. There are others who are maybe not as vocal who are willing to listen to the evidence to see if that’s what we want in the community.”
“It’s important for people who are looking for information to know that when they come to the city they are getting accurate timely facts. As soon as we shade one way or the other someone is going to question whether or not we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing as a city. We’re responsible for the whole city, not a faction – either pro or anti oil.”
Being “agnostic” on the subject of oil drilling is important to him.
“People say they want us to take a leadership role in this,” said Bobko. “I think it’s much harder to keep a completely poker face throughout this process. There’s a lot of pressure from all directions.”
One thing that he wants less of in the city is change for the sake of change.
“I oppose the things we do for the symbolism. I think the smoking ban was a bad idea,” said Bobko. “I don’t think that’s what we should be spending our time and money on. Sixty-seven percent of our general fund goes to public safety – we need to decide how we want to use that resource, do we want them out writing tickets for smoking, or something else?”
For him, upgrading the outdated sewer system, fixing roads and investing in public safety and safety in the schools are more important issues to debate than smoking or Styrofoam bans.
“Those questions are hard and require difficult choices,” said Bobko. “They require leadership and you have to be willing to face them – I’m not afraid of doing that as you can see, and I certainly will continue to face those tough choices and advocate for the things I think are best for our city. I have absolute faith in the voters. If I’m misreading the public sentiment, then so be it.” ER