Schwarzenegger’s Charisma Gives Republicans Hope

With the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger last October, state Republicans seem to have been encouraged in their bid to gain more representation in the state legislature, despite being the minority party in California. The incumbent Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, and State Senator Sheila Kuehl are being challenged in November by newcomer Republicans Heather Peters and Leonard Lanzi. Both are moderate Republicans and disagree with the incumbents on fiscal policy. Pavley’s 41st District stretches from Oxnard to Santa Monica and includes valley communities from Agoura Hills to Tarzana. Kuehl’s 23rd District runs from Agoura Hills to Santa Monica, and over to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Peters, 38, came to politics in an unusual fashion. ‘I always thought I would like to run for office someday,’ said the Santa Monica resident who made a test drive by running on the recall ballot against former Governor Gray Davis. ‘I spoke to Republican groups all over the area, got out there and told them what my positions were. It was an amazingly warm reception. People were supportive of my moderate positions.’ Ultimately, Peters withdrew from the recall race and supported Schwarzenegger, but she pulled her papers to run for assembly. ‘Basically, I am a centrist Republican: pro choice, pro environment and pro-gay rights in terms of gay couples’ property rights, hospital visitation rights, and adoptions,’ she told the Palisadian-Post. ‘I differ from Fran on fiscal issues. For example, she sat on the budget committee that produced the current $38 billion deficit, and I also take issue with her co-authoring Assembly bill 1690 that would have imposed a county income tax of up to 10 percent of the state income tax. I think we need to get our fiscal house together in Sacramento and not force that burden back on the localities.’ Peters spent 10 years as a litigation attorney until she got tired ‘of never feeling like celebrating anything. I never felt that I was doing anything for society.’ She now runs a private mediation practice in Los Angeles where she mediates civil matters from business dissolutions to personal injury. ‘Anything but family law,’ she insists. Married to Jeff Bonhach, Peters says that she will continue to talk to as many local groups as she can. ‘I think there is a time and a place for moderates. People are looking for elected officials who are working together, and certainly in this district, that’s where you need to be.’ o o o Leonard Michael Lanzi, 41, acknowledges that 23rd Senate District race is not one that is winnable for a Republican, given the fact that 58 percent of the district is Democratic, but he does point to several factors that may play in his favor. ‘This is Arnold’s home district, which may not mean a whole lot, but if it looks like there may be a crack in the armor, maybe he’ll weigh in. ‘I am also a gay Republican running against a lesbian, so that puts the sexual orientation issue to rest. ‘I was recruited to hold our opponent to task,’ Lanzi told the Palisadian-Post. ‘Kuehl has a record she has to defend; I would like to raise enough money to put her record out there so voters can judge for themselves. ‘I think that there are other ways of doing things and you can’t be singly focused when you represent such a large number of constituents. When it comes to fiscal issues, I disagree with Kuehl. We have to create an environment where small businesses can survive. Her SB 2 was an anti-small business bill requiring small business to provide health care for their employees. You can’t drive them away with excessive workers’ comp. I think that as moderate Republican, I can work with both parties.’ Lanzi and his partner of 14 years, Russell Nelson, have lived in Topanga Canyon for the past three years. Currently employed as director of development for Junior Achievement, Lanzi was the executive director of the Santa Barbara County Boy Scouts for 10 years before he was let go for being gay. He sued and settled out of court. Last summer while he was unemployed, Lanzi began thinking about running for public office. ‘I started to look at the recall race and thought maybe it’s time to try a shot at public service. I have a background working in a collaborative way and working with many groups in the community, I know and understand government. I had already made overtures with the party, and soon the Republicans came to me and asked me to run for the senate and even paid my filing fees, even though they know I’m a pro-choice Republican.’ Lanzi says that he will continue to hold Kuehl’s record out for people to see and at the same time introduce himself to people as a viable candidate for this or future elections. A frequent shopper at the Palisades Farmers Market, Lanzi says that he is looking forward to talking to Palisadians, and holds hope for strong support in certain portions of the district. ‘I think that I’ll have a chance, particularly in the western part of the district, including Calabasas, Oxnard, and even Topanga, where he says,’there are a lot of independent-minded people, not all necessarily Democrats.’ Other Election Results: The two education measures on the ballot’State Proposition 55, and local Measure R’passed on Tuesday, bringing more money for new schools, school infrastructure, maintenance. Proposition 55 provides $2.3 billion to fund necessary education facilities to relieve overcrowding, repair older schools and upgrade and build new classrooms in the state’s community colleges and universities. Measure R provides the Los Angeles Unified School District $3.87 billion for additional classroom seats, a full-day kindergarten, adult and early childhood education facilities, library books, repairs and remodeling, and sites for charter schools. For Palisades Charter High School principal Linda Hosford, the passage of both bonds was optimistic news. ‘We qualify as an independent charter for all these bonds,’ she told the Palisadian-Post Wednesday. Our facilities are part of LAUSD, so this money will be used for construction and deferred maintenance.’ Hosford said that the school had already made a list of priorities for Bond K, which was passed two years ago and provided $2.7 million for Palisades Charter. Palisades’ wish list included an upgraded security system and outdoor lighting. ‘We are still waiting for the timeline on those projects,’ said Hosford. ‘It is difficult to access what would be on the R lists, especially since the primary goal for the district is to build new schools. ‘As for the state measure, now that we are directly funded by the state, this is good news.’