BRENTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — The campaign is heating up for two open seats on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
The race is on to succeed Zev Yaroslavsky, one of the big names on the board, and will pit a current member of the Kennedy clan against a former TV sitcom star-turned-lawmaker.
With fundraising season in full swing for 2014 candidates, there was ammunition from a top-line comedienne at a big fundraiser in Brentwood Wednesday night, with Paula Poundstone telling jokes to a full room in support of Sheila Kuehl, who is running for the seat now occupied by Yaroslavsky.
“Top of my priority list I’d have to say is foster children,” Kuehl told KCAL9’s Dave Bryan at the event.
Kuehl, a state lawmaker for 14 years in Sacramento, said it is her experience that sets her apart from her three opponents.
“Each of them has been on a part-time, small city council,” Kuehl said. “They have not dealt with any of the issues that I just articulated that the county must make decisions on every day: the welfare system, child welfare system, human services. So I think it’s really important to have someone who already knows a lot about the systems that you would have to govern.”
Kuehl’s toughest opponent might be former Santa Monica mayor and councilman Bobby Shriver, the nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Shriver says he has the entrepreneurial spirit and the energy to shake things up on the Board of Supervisors.
“Local government has failed the homeless, particularly the veterans in L.A. You want to make things happen much faster. I’m a speed it up type of person. I don’t need to do a lot of studies or pilot projects. I don’t want to spend $1 billion on a new jail, for example… when that energy comes into the room, stuff happens. It’s is a little bit magical,” Shriver said.
The two big name candidates in the race are ramping up campaign rhetoric after a newspaper report that Shriver was absent for nearly 20 percent of the Santa Monica council meetings during his eight years as a councilmember.
“You really need to show up. So if you don’t have a history of taking your job seriously, to show up, then I think that has something to do with how you might approach this job,” Kuehl said.
Asked if it was valid criticism or a cheap shot, Shriver said he hoped his opponent’s remarks were simply an “unaware shot,” and noted he was spending time with his late mother before her death, and was also mourning his late uncle during the periods his absence was in question.
“As a couple of my colleagues said in the story, ‘Bobby never missed an important vote.’ So, the budget, the important development projects – I was always there,” he said.
A third candidate in the race is West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, a criminal defense attorney who said he relishes role of being outsider candidate.
“The other candidates in the race, they live along the seashore,” Duran said. “I live in the urban core, and I’m the city guy in the midst of the traffic and congestion, the noise – everything that entails city life. And I think that life in this city, which is most of the district, whether it’s in the Hollywood Hills or the San Fernando Valley, that our issues are very different from people who live along PCH,” he said.
There is a fourth candidate, former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich.
KCAL9 contacted Ulich’s office for an interview but did not get a response.