When the Hermosa Beach City Treasurer position was vacated by David Cohn in May, both Karen S. Nowicki and J.R. Reviczky were urged by their friends to run for the job.
“When I saw this position come up, I thought that the city could really use my resources, and they need a good accounting person to do the job,” said Nowicki.
In May, Cohn resigned as city treasurer after 18 months on the job. He cited his age and other responsibilities as the reason for his resignation in a letter submitted to the city.
While serving as treasurer, Cohn was also implicated in a criminal investigation after a masseuse allegedly stole his iPad after performing a massage on the treasurer at his residence. According to police reports, the masseuse, Yuritsi Garcia, and her boyfriend, Gustavo Ceron, attempted to extort money from Cohn in exchange for deleting the contents of his tablet. Garcia also told authorities that Cohn tried to have sex with her during the massage and she refused. Cohn denied any wrongdoing.
When 64-year-old Reviczky realized that the city was looking for candidates for the treasurer position for the November 5 election, he knew that his 16 years of serving on the city council would bolster his credentials.
“When I was on the council I was always trying to educate myself on the city finances and I thought I did a pretty good job of doing it,” Reviczky said. “It’s a position I thought I would like to try and I think I’m qualified for the job, and I think I could do it a little more gracefully than the last guy we had.”
Reviczky said he is qualified for the position because he has managed large construction projects – including a $76 million project for the Getty Center– and because he reviewed the city’s budget frequently when he served on the city council from 1993 to 2009.
“In those 16 years I made sure the treasurer had some money to invest, and that wasn’t always the case. When I got elected early on, the city was in dire straights,” said Revinczky. “Today we’re in pretty good financial state – no municipal debt – so obviously we’re doing something right.”
He said that the first thing he wants to do once he’s elected is review all the investments the former treasurer made.
“I’ve reviewed them to the extent that I can, already, and some I feel I need to look at,” said Revinczky. “We’ve invested in two major investment pools, one is a state investment pool and the other is the L.A. County Investment pool. They don’t generate spectacular returns. However, they are liquid and very safe. Those are the most important things, the safety of our funds and, secondly, liquidity.”
While on council, Reviczky said he reviewed the treasurer’s reports monthly.
“I reviewed the audits the city gets and, if you want to call the finance department, they’ll tell you that every now and then I found a mistake on the audit,” Reviczky said. “On everything I do I’m thorough and I’m pretty good at reading reams of paperwork.”
He said he believes his experience as a private pilot has also prepared him well for the position.
“I always have a ‘what if,’” said Reviczky. “You always need to know where you’re at and where you can go if something bad happens. I think that translates into city government.”
Nowicki, said she believes that the limited, two-year position would be a good starting point if she were to be elected.
“It will kind of give me a chance to get in there and see if I like doing it,” said Nowicki. “I feel like it’s a good enough time to make some changes.”
Nowicki has her Bachelor’s in Accounting as well as her Master’s in Business. She is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics). She also serves on the Board of Leadership for Hermosa Beach and has been on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce for two years. She currently works for KSS accounting.
“I really like being involved in the city,” said Nowicki, adding that a she was part of the team that audited Hermosa Beach in 2010. “I’ve been deep in the books.”
She said that if she were to be elected, she would like to take some funds out of the LAIF (Local Agency Investment Fund).
“It’s the safest fund, but it also has the lowest yield,” said Nowicki. “The treasurer position is pretty limited. You manage a portfolio but there are a lot of rules and regulations you have to adhere to. You can’t just go invest in the stock market.”
She said that a lot of changes were made when David Cohn replaced long-time treasurer John Workman.
“I think he did a good thing,” said Nowicki. “I recently attended a treasurer management seminar and there were other city treasurers there and investment advisors. I showed them what our portfolio looks like and they said it looked pretty good.”
She said that Cohn diversified the city’s portfolio and moved a lot of money to CDs, which earn a higher yield.
“He reduced the LAIF amount by a lot,” said Nowicki. “I’d like to go a step further and reduce it by more because that’s the lowest yield, but it’s also the safest as far as cash and liquidity.”
Running for treasurer was a big decision for Nowicki.
“I just thought, you know – it would be a great way to get more involved in the city, which is just what I want to do.”