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Former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl and former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver will face off on Nov. 4 to determine which candidate will succeed veteran Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, who is retiring in December.
In the June 3 Primary Election, Kuehl was the top vote getter with 36.18 percent, and Shriver followed at 28.8 percent. West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran placed third with 16.34 percent.
Kuehl previously served on the California Senate for eight years and the Assembly for six, leaving in 2008 due to term limits. She is currently the founding director of the Public Policy Institute at Santa Monica College.
The Tulsa, Okla., native said her priorities include helping foster children, improving transportation and enhancing the county’s healthcare system. However, Kuehl said supervisors don’t “really have the luxury” to focus solely on their priorities.
“So, you need to know something about everything,” she said.
That said, she hopes to impact the county’s foster youth population by reducing the caseload for each social worker and learning more about how work is divided between new and experienced workers.
Kuehl said she would also like to improve the communication between the county and the courts and ensure that schools pay more attention to foster youth — from preschool to college.
“Foster youth are pretty much left on their own,” she said. “Now that they’re aging out at twenty-one, they’re still in our system while they’re in college.”
As for transportation, Kuehl said she would like to see public transit options that allow residents to get from one end of the county to another.
“That means not just an interconnecting series of trains, but also what is generally referred to as first/last mile,” she said. “That means, how do I get from my house to the train station?”
Kuehl said officials could address the first and last mile by providing adequate parking at train stations, making sure buses or shuttles run to and from stations frequently and installing bike lockers at transit facilities. She said trains should run late enough that people can attend an event at the Hollywood Bowl and still take transit back.
“That, I think, has to be highest priority,” Kuehl said, adding that she wants to see a north/south line that runs from the San Fernando Valley to the airport eventually.
Additionally, the former senator wants to work with officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to continue to improve services at the county’s four hospitals and its hundreds of clinics. Kuehl said the supervisors have strived to improve the offerings at those facilities.
“And I want to continue that good work,” she said.
Kuehl said she would like to see more people choose the county system as their insurer, which people can do through Covered California.
“I want to explore whether we can encourage others to choose the county system,” she said. “That will help because it brings in insurance money, but it’s also very affordable for individuals.”
Shriver was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in 2004 and served as the city’s mayor in 2010. He has served on the California State Park and Recreation Commission and helped found PRODUCT (RED), which fights AIDS in Africa.
A Chicago native, Shriver said his main priority is job creation. He said he would like to see officials make it easier for film and TV productions to operate within Los Angeles County.
“We’re losing jobs very quickly, particularly in the television and film business,” Shriver said, adding that the fees are too high to shoot in L.A. County.
Furthermore, the county should do more to ease regulations on small businesses, which is where most of the job creation is, he said. Shriver said red tape is a constant source of frustration for business owners.
“They all complain about excessive regulation — too many inspectors, too many people coming to make them comply with too many regulations,” he added.
Shriver also wants to “build out” the county’s transportation infrastructure. He said Yaroslavsky did a good job of getting federal funds for transit projects, and he would like to continue to focus on that. The former Santa Monica mayor said the county could also look into the feasibility of another sales tax increase for such projects.
Additionally, Shriver said he wants to see the county develop a water plan and facilitate coordination between all of the water entities in L.A. County. He mentioned Prop. 1, which would authorize $7.12 billion in bonds for water supply infrastructure projects, among other things.
“We need to be prepared for that water bond to be enacted,” Shriver said, adding that the county could apply for hundreds of millions of dollars if Prop. 1 is approved.
He said he would also like to address the issues at the jails. Shriver said the management of mental health and jail facilities has been “terrible” and needs to be rectified immediately.
He noted the current plan to build a new jail, but said the plan will still incarcerate mentally ill individuals. Shriver said he wants nonviolent criminals with mental health problems to receive services from different facilities.
“To me, it’s much more humane and much cheaper to have those people in community mental health care facilities,” he added.
Lastly, Shriver said he wants to improve the county’s foster care situation by paying relatives who care for a foster child the same amount as a foster family.
“I would try to change that immediately,” he said.
Long-term, Shriver would like to implement performance-based contracting, in which foster homes receive funding after a child is adopted. He said the current system incentivizes foster homes to keep children because they’ll continue to receive funding.
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