Rescue Our Waterfront Candidate Endorsements and Voter Guide
Our executive board has made recommendations for the following offices:
- Re-elect Mayor Bill Brand
- Re-elect Council Member Nils Nehrenheim – District 1
- Re-elect Council Member Todd Loewenstein – District 2
- Zein Obagi, Jr. for District 4 City Council
- Harden Sooper for City Attorney
- Rolf Curtis Strutzenberg for School Board
- Margo Trone for School Board
How we made our determinations:
Mayor – Re-elect Mayor Bill Brand
Bill Brand is a proven leader and perhaps the only Mayor in 129 years of Redondo Beach history not beholden to big-moneyed developers. For decades, Mayor Brand has personally and tirelessly advocated for the best interests of Redondo residents, both as a private citizen and an elected official. We could write a book on his successful improvements to our quality of life and beach-town culture. Quite simply, no one does what is needed for our city better than Bill Brand, whether it is locally, regionally or in Sacramento.
While the Mayor has a lot of additional goals to accomplish, he must be supported by resident-centric council members that will also move the city forward, instead of handing responsibility for the future of Redondo Beach to big real-estate developers and moneyed special-interest groups.
City Council Races – Council Districts 1, 2, and 4
The Mayor’s resident-centric vision is currently stalled due to a block of three obstructionist council members who only represent a crony-cabal of high-density real-estate developers and other non-resident interests who see Redondo Beach as their personal piggy bank.
Because of their pro-development, non-transparent agenda and majority voting power, the Mayor can only veto the bad ideas approved by these three obstructionist council members (such as raising taxes), or vote to break a tie. Those three council members are John Gran, Christian Horvath and Laura Emdee. Even the current city attorney stated in a recent campaign interview that these three council members propose actions “as a block” that require the Mayor to exercise his veto power. These three obstructionist council members also prevent the mayor from nominating qualified residents to serve on important city commissions. This commission-blocking is something many observers say has never happened before in the Redondo Beach City Council.
We therefore need to give the residents and Mayor Brand council members who are positive, forward forces for Redondo Beach, instead of continuing with those who mire the city in stagnation and cronyism, causing the city to spiral financially out of control. Only one of the three obstructionist council members is up for election right now, and that is John Gran in District 4, who must be replaced by rising star Zein Obagi.
Re-elect Council Member Nils Nehrenheim District 1
A proven leader advocating for the best interests of residents, Nils does the necessary research to make the right decisions. That’s a huge contrast to his opponent who already has voted to rubber-stamp anything pushed by moneyed special interests and big developers.
In the past 4 years some of the well-received achievements by Nehrenheim inclulde the new outdoor-dining areas of Rivera Village, campaign finance reform, securing $84,000 in grant funding for Rivera Village, and the Galleria project improvements and concessions. Nils has not only advocated for residents in District 1 but also for areas across the city that benefit us all. During the city council appeal to review the Galleria redevelopment project, Nehrenheim was able to secure $2 million from the developer to enhance and improve Artesia Blvd., along with other important concessions to create more public open space and recreation, bring professional jobs closer to home, and prevent the Galleria property from being broken up into 59 high-density condo projects. His other noteworthy achievements include public amenity upgrades in the harbor, and a solid dedication to public safety (Nehrenheim serves as a Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard, and has for over 20 years).
Nils Nehrenheim has been long active in city issues:
- He was a key organizer in Redondo Residents for Responsible Revitalization (“R4”) which defeated AES’s ballot measure to rezone the power-plant site, from it’s current zoning as park and open space, to hundreds of condos (“Measure B”).
- He was co-leader of Save the Riviera, which reduced the Legado project to legal size (180 units to 115 units).
- He co-founded Rescue Our Waterfront, and was one of the authors of Measure C, The King Harbor Care Act, which prevents the building of a huge shopping mall on the pier and harbor. His King Harbor Care Act was approved overwhelmingly by a vote of the residents, and is the only ballot measure written by residents to be approved and enacted into law with no changes by the California Coastal Commission.
Nehrenheim will continue to improve our quality of life, advocate against blighting our neighborhoods with high-density residential and other over-development, which his opponent has already voted to approve, and fight to bring more recreation areas, trees and open space to our city.
Re-elect Council Member Todd Loewenstein District 2
Prior to being elected to the city council in 2017, Todd Loewenstein served 2 terms on the Redondo Beach Unified School District Board of Education, including serving 2 years as Board President, implementing a broad range of improvements and upgrades. Among other achievements there, Todd ran the school district’s $145 million bond campaign that modernized the schools.
Loewenstein continues to improve our community and way of life by:
- protecting our harbor through his support and implementation of The King Harbor Care Act (“Measure C”),
- founding Redondo Residents for Responsible Revitalization (“R4”), which beat AES’s ballot measure seeking to rezone the power plant land for hundreds of condos. That property is currently zoned as parkland, and requires a vote of the residents to change that zoning. Todd and R4 raised and spent $15,000 for the campaign against AES’s $1,200,000 and beat them at the ballot box.
- paving neighborhood streets, including Prospect,
- preventing a 3-year extension of the AES power plant,
- curbing single-use plastics and public smoking
…to name a few accomplishments.
Loewenstein’s vision for the next four years includes
- decommissioning the AES power plant and removing the 190th st. power lines, with the land dedicated to open space, bike and running paths, etc.,
- improving our Internet connections,
- eliminating wasteful city spending,
- guarding our waterfront from mall developers while revitalizing the Pier area for recreation, dining and entertainment,
- automating city services,
Zein Obagi for City Council District 4
Back in 2011 through 2013, while his opponent Gran was being groomed by the Chamber of Commerce as its newest would-be city hall proxy, Zein Obagi, Jr. was actively canvassing Redondo Beach in No Power Plant’s effort to shut down the AES power plant and ensure no new power plant would be permitted on the Redondo Beach coastline.
Since then, Obagi has started a family and founded a successful law firm that represents employees unlawfully harassed, terminated, retaliated against or discriminated against by their employers. Zein Obagi will therefore be a strong protector and promoter for Redondo Beach Residents, not a paid or special-interest-sponsored “YES Man” merely following instructions from real-estate developers, like his opponent is. A seasoned litigator, Zein has the skills to tackle the tough issues the city faces in moving towards progress in revitalization.
Perhaps the greatest promise with Zein Obagi is that he proposes actual ideas to revitalize the Artesia Business Corridor instead of doing nothing or claiming negotiation, incentives and enforcement aren’t possible. This is something that hasn’t been done by the current representative or any of the chamber of commerce-backed candidates.
One final point for residents of District 4 is, unlike his opponent, Zein is not proposing to increase taxes after falsely claiming this is what residents want. That is something that impacts not only residents of District 4 but the whole city at large.
City Attorney – Harden Sooper
Harden Sooper promises transparency, a full review of department activities, and even accepting a pay cut. Incumbent City Attorney Webb has refused to consider changes, since he hasn’t been challenged for election in over a decade, while he has enjoyed higher than normal annual salary increases. His current compensation package totals nearly $470,000 dollars per year. That’s more than double what the governor of California is paid!
Harden Sooper will put an end to what has been happening at the City Attorney’s office for way too long – unchecked cronyism, outrageous salaries and perks, and lawsuits the city shouldn’t even be involved in. Webb’s office is just wasting taxpayers money due to Webb’s actions to support his personal opinions and crony relationships over the health and welfare of the city and its residents. Sadly, Webb’s gross negligence and rich compensation has also come at a time when our firefighters and police are being asked to make do with less.
Webb’s campaign is receiving significant funding from outside attorneys paid hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars by the City under Webb’s selection and supervision, which is a big conflict of interest that he seems to be comfortable with.
One example of Webb’s lack of effective guidance is the stagnation in harbor revitalization for the past 4 years. Considerable responsibility for this rests on the shoulders of Webb. If only he had advised the City Council to wait 5 weeks to sign a lease agreement with the mall developer – wait until after the 2017 election that had Measure C on the upcoming ballot. This simple advice, and anticipation of the consequences of signing the agreement in the face of Measure C, could have avoided one of several $15 million-dollar lawsuits and an estimated $2 million in legal defense costs that the city has incurred, so far.
Further, if only Webb would have included an out-clause in the agreement to prematurely buy out the Fun Factory lease, we would have avoided paying $9 million plus interest, that we now owe.
All these were done to pave the way for an illegal mall project greenlighted by Council Members Horvath, Emdee and then-Council Member Barbee. When asked by Council Member Brand before that vote what would happen should issues come up later, Webb merely said “That can be worked out in the courts”. Well, we’re still “working it out in the courts” many years later, and millions of dollars later, and with progress stalled in the harbor.
We know we can and must do better, which is why we urge you to vote for Harden Sooper For City Attorney.
School Board Endorsements
Rolf started his career by earning his college degree in Aerospace Engineering, with additional graduate studies in both Engineering and Management. A Redondo Beach resident for the past 25 years, Rolf has demonstrated his commitment to the city in many ways. Currently serving on the Planning Commission, when the massive Galleria Mall Project (the largest development project in Redondo Beach history) was being reviewed, he saw it would need more than just one meeting to fully vet. Rolf made a motion to continue discussion for an additional meeting and was, unfortunately, the only commissioner who did so. As a result, it was rushed through a rubber-stamp vote that night, and had to be appealed to the City Council.
Rolf came to the City Council appeal meetings and was able to continue with the outstanding due diligence he was prevented from completing at the sole Planning Commission hearing. His questions lead to significant modifications in the final plan that benefited Redondo Beach residents to the tune of more than $2 million, provided open space, bringing in local professional jobs, prevented the Galleria from being available for redevelopment as hundreds of condos, and much more. Rolf has shown he will go the extra mile for what is right for Redondo Beach.
As a father of 2 school-age boys, and a teacher’s husband, Rolf knows firsthand the importance of our schools and will work towards empowering teachers and providing them with all the tools and support they need to be successful in their mission. Part of that is ensuring proper funding for our schools, and to attract the best teachers.
Margo has been part of the school community since 2014 and advocates for students and parents to have choices. Among her many priorities include safely returning students to in-class learning, and addressing critical educational policy and funding issues. With experience in risk management with Los Angeles Unified School District as well as knowledge in procurement procedures, she has the skills to maximize the school district’s buying power. Margo also founded a non-profit Dual Immersion foundation that promotes bilingual education and raises multicultural learning. She will continue to advocate for our students to have a collaborative voice and choices.
Website Link Below
ROW needs your help to defend Redondo Beach residents from unscrupulous developers and crony corruption, and to help build the future you voted for at the ballot box, so please donate Here
Paid for by Rescue Our Waterfront PAC #1387229