By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Continuing a summer of Zoom meetings, the Pacific Palisades Community Council hosted a Candidates Forum on August 27, allowing those vying to represent the Palisades in all eight areas plus an at-large candidate a chance to introduce themselves.
After Election Committee Chair David Kaplan welcomed and thanked the candidates, he reported that Area 6 candidate Jason Sklar had withdrawn from the race. Then each candidate, running in an uncontested seat or not, was given the chance to briefly introduce themselves, highlighting pieces of their background and issues that they feel important to the Palisades and their areas in specific.
The bulk of the forum focused on three contested seats: Area 4 (Michael Minky and Karen Ridgley), Area 6 (Matthew Quiat and Karyn Weber) and Area 7 (Jenny Li and Rick McGeagh).
Each of the candidates running in contested seats were asked two questions: What two issues are most important to your area or to the Palisades in general and how do you plan to communicate with your constituents?
Quiat began the discussion with the fact that there has been an increase in issues, particularly in Area 6.
“Then with Potrero Canyon opening up, which I’m sure will be beautiful,” Quiat said, “we need to put in the work now to make sure that we are safe and secure moving forward for when that comes online and people start using it.”
Weber agreed with Quiat, adding that the return of the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market to the area is going to bring increased traffic, “which can impact our safety, especially if it’s going to be on both sides of Sunset.”
Minky, vying for the Area 4 seat, named COVID-19 as the most important issue in the Palisades.
“I think the most important issue—the most important issue in the world actually—is COVID-19,” he shared, “and I think that not enough is being done in the Palisades in general to create an awareness of how we need to wear masks and we need to have some social distancing.”
Ridgley then touched on the fact that “many, many cars” are being stolen out of driveways and in front of homes in Area 4, as well as curfew problems she hopes to address at the Asilomar cul de sac.
“I think the ever-present threat in our area here in 7 is the wildfire threat and there are related issues to that,” McGeagh said when it was his turn to answer the questions, adding that brush clearance and removing fuel for those fires—a project which he has already begun to tackle—is of key importance.
Li said that the two issues she finds to be the biggest are protecting the environment and working with people who are experiencing homelessness.
“Homelessness is a countywide issue, a city issue, a Palisades issue and we need to come up with real solutions and not just trying to sweep the problem somewhere else,” Li said.
As far as communicating with their constituents, each of the candidates ensured they would create email lists and work with neighbors to be in touch with those who reside in their respective areas.
The candidates in contested seats also answered a question from a youth advisor: What, if any, would be your priorities for Palisades youth?
Minky shared that he feels sorry for the youth, that they are the group most affected by COVID-19.
“It’s hard to relate when you think about your high school days and have to stay six feet away from everybody,” he added.
Weber suggested getting back to normal where possible, including increased virtual programming at Palisades Recreation Center and physically distanced sports, like tennis.
Voting begins September 4 at 9 a.m. and will close September 18 at 5 p.m.
“Residents of an area may vote for the representative running in the area where they live,” according to information provided by PPCC. “Residents, property owners and business operators in all areas of the Palisades may vote for at-large representative.”
Full candidate statements and information about how to vote is available at pacpalicc.org.
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