• Day One on the Malibu Campaign Trail •
BY ANNE SOBLE
The streaming of this week's city council meeting—when it wasn't being interrupted by technical glitches—was an opportunity to see some of those who are now candidates for Malibu City Council speaking as such.
The lone incumbent in the race was at the dais, with access to the advantages that incumbency accrues—name recognition, a carryover campaign organization, a proven donor base, and the potential to implement council actions beneficial to a reelection campaign.
Four of the neophyte candidates had face time during the public comment and agenda item segments of the meeting and demonstrated an ability to speak cogently on diverse issues and work a crowd in their favor.
If municipal voters are going to go to the polls with as clear a picture as possible of the seven people on the April 10 ballot, it is time for voters to try to begin to attend political functions, watch city meetings online and read everything political that is available.
Talk has already begun about "new blood/time for change" candidates versus "old guard/machine politics" candidates. Whether candidates fit into categories along these or any other lines is expected to play out in the weeks ahead.
Interestingly, there are marked age differences between the first four names on the ballot and the final three, although two of the latter are in such clear opposition on issues and allegiances that they defy pairing.
One is stating the obvious when noting there is a tremendous amount of discontent with a number of current council stances. This reminds me of when city voters rebelled against the controversial then-council-backed Measure M—which happened to have been co-authored by one of the current council candidates—that would have allowed major commercial development in parts of Malibu.
When politicians are being criticized, they often try to marginalize opposition by slowing down the decision-making process with redundant studies. Issues can be dragged out until right before an election (possibly after many absentee voters have already cast their ballots) or kept from being acted on until after the polls have closed—classic Machiavellian political strategy.
The opponents of the state's Malibu Lagoon construction project have made it clear that they will not be marginalized. They have dubbed the council's recent move to undertake a new study without withdrawing the initial city support of the controversial project a political ploy.
However, those seeking a city measure to uphold Malibu's General Plan and Mission Statement and protect its semi-rural atmosphere and locals-serving small businesses are apparently being co-opted to try to prevent that concern from becoming a council campaign issue.
Those who were so outspoken about PCH safety last year also seem to have been lulled into repose, but at least three council candidates so far have indicated PCH is going to be a major campaign talking point for them.
Malibuites should tell those seeking their votes that stalling for political advantage is not tolerated. Voters then might be able to rewrite the maxim "You can't fight City Hall" to read "City Hall keeps Malibu Malibu."