The stage is set for Rancho Palos Verdes city council elections on November 5 between two incumbents and one of the city’s founders vying for two open council seats.
Incumbents Brian Campbell and Anthony Misetich, both having completed one four-year term, will square off against challenger Ken Dyda who’s been involved in RPV city government since its inception.
Dyda, who entered the race just a week before the filing deadline and plans not to fundraise, said he was running to steer the city back toward its founding principles. One of those principles is limited growth, which Dyda said the city has done a good job preserving. Rancho Palos Verdes today has 43,000 citizens, just 1,000 more than in 1973 when it was founded.
Rather, Dyda said the city needs more accountability and oversight. He points to the Anenberg Foundation project, which was eventually scrapped, and a $7 million grant for Abalone Cove improvements, both of which did not fall within the city’s general plan, Dyda said. Restrictions on both projects should have been identified up front, said Dyda who’s served on virtually every committee the city has ever had over the past 40 years including councilmember for almost 10 years until 1983.
“Over time, which is not surprising, a city tends to drift away due to all sorts of pressures from its original founding principles. I want to bring it back to that,” Dyda said. “A city that doesn’t remember its origin and its history and founding principles is like a tree without roots. It’s not going to flourish.”
Last year Councilman Brian Campbell, a commercial real estate broker, turned down his opportunity to be mayor on a rotating basis. Campbell said he’s fully committed to the job now, citing as his guiding principles transparency and accountability. He said the city council should have been made aware earlier that it was going through an appeals process for one of the bidders on the San Ramon Canyon project, a $17 million infrastructure improvement to fix a storm water issue on PV Drive South.
Campbell spearheaded an effort last year to more fully disclose the city manager’s salary and review the city’s unfunded pension liability. He pointed to a Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury report analyzing financial health and management that ranked RPV 64th out of 88 cities.
“The city council wasn’t even aware that staff was putting together responses and we did not rank very well” Campbell said.
At times his style clashes with Mayor Susan Brooks and others, but he said personal relations have never interfered with the job. This year, Campbell said he expects not to spend nearly as much as the $28,00o he spent to originally get elected.
“The city council is like a board of directors,” Campbell said. “Every company that gets into trouble usually had a board of directors that never disagreed and there was no oversight. This concept that because there’s vigorous debate and even personality differences on the council as being a bad thing I think really should be questioned.”
In her remarks at the annual State of the Cities address convened by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Coordinating Council along with all four mayors on peninsula last week, Brooks said Rancho Palos Verdes has taken great strides to increase its transparency in recent years. More than most, it fully discloses a range of salaries and other financial information on-line, Brooks said.
“RPV is recognized by many agencies as one of the most transparent organizations,” Brook said. “Transparency goes both ways, however. Good governance is the responsibility of your elected officials to lead and not be led through intimidation by threats or character assassinations. As this campaign season emerges it is imperative that you ensure such transparency with regard to the agendas of those who seek to govern our fair city. We deserve only persons who seek to represent the greater good.”
Councilman Anthony Misetich, who spent close to $45,000 four years ago, said the field of only three candidates should limit the fundraising greatly. Four years ago there were seven candidates. For his part, Misetich said he’s been extremely pleased with the city’s efforts to be more transparent and proud of his record as a fiscal conservative.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to ensure that RPV has a balanced budget,” Misetich said. “We’ve had budget surpluses on council each year, which others have not. We’ve also worked on infrastructure projects, including San Ramon canyon, the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history.” ER