To round out this final week before the 2020 Presidential Primary Election concludes on Tuesday, March 3, the six official Beverly Hills City Council candidates shared their platforms at the Senior Adult Forum debate, which was held at the Roxbury Park Community Center on Feb. 24. It marked the final of five planned City Council candidate debates in Beverly Hills.
Once again, the two candidates the Courier chose to endorse, incumbent Council members Lili Bosse and Julian Gold, M.D., proved themselves knowledgeable and informative in their responses.
“Community is everything,” emphasized Councilwoman Bosse, who spoke at length about BOLD, housing and safety. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Bosse grew up in Beverly Hills, attending its public schools and later sending her two sons to them as well. After becoming deeply active within the PTAs and the Beverly Hills Education Foundation, Bosse went on to serve on the Traffic and Parking Commission and then as a member of the Planning Commission before being elected to City Council nine years ago.
“What we need to focus on is housing for our seniors to make sure you can age in place and to bring the young generation and the families to stay in our community. We need to make sure it’s a safe City,” she told the roughly four dozen attendees at the recent forum.
“Our goal has to be able to create an environment where seniors can age in place. Certainly that would be my goal, to be able to stay here forever and have a City which supports that and allows that to happen,” said Councilman Gold, who served on both the Traffic and Parking Commission and the Recreation and Parks Commission before being elected to City Council in 2011 along with Bosse.
Dr. Gold, an anesthesiologist for 40 years, highlighted the recently expanded Nurse Practitioner Program, which he helped bring to life, as a novel method in which the City supports its residents and particularly its senior population.
Lori Gordon, a member of the Planning Commission since 2015, likewise offered thoughtful potential solutions to help improve the City. One suggestion made by Gordon, who grew up here and attended the local public schools, as did her two daughters, was to provide residents with parking passes that would make it free for them to park in Beverly Hills during the evenings in order to incentivize locals to patronize local establishments, like restaurants. Gordon also recommended dramatically revamping the Planning Department and moving forward with a mixed-use ordinance.
Write-in candidate attorney Aimee Zeltzer, whose name voters will actually have to write on the ballot, was consistent with her previous entreaties that the City prioritize closing the Pico Oil Refinery and keeping open the City-owned “Log Cabin” in West Hollywood. Closer to home, Zeltzer, who served as a board member of the South Robertson Neighborhood Council before moving to Beverly Hills this past November, advocated creating an auxiliary police force. Currently, Beverly Hills does have a small reserve police force (the term for “auxiliary police force” on the west coast), consisting of seven volunteer officers.
Technologist Robin Rowe emphasized his plan to build two 70-story towers in Beverly Hills and for the first time during a debate, refrained from mentioning his plan to build a gondola in the sky as a solution for the City’s traffic woes. For the third time during a debate, he also misstated the City’s current housing obligation, incorrectly saying that Beverly Hills had been tasked to build thousands of units over the past recent years.
Rabbi Sidney Green continued with his push to allow marijuana dispensaries and warehouses to operate in the City of Beverly Hills. However, unlike in previous candidate forums where he occasionally elicited laughter from the audience with seemingly playful suggestions, such as adding a kosher ice cream shop as the solution to declining business tax revenue, Green went on the offensive, even asking the incumbents to drop out of the race at one point.
Items discussed at length included cannabis, housing, nightlife, safety, security, and the forthcoming subway.
“The most important thing you can do is vote,” said former Mayor Les Bronte, who moderated the forum.
Registered voters can vote now through March 3 at two locations in Beverly Hills, as well as at any active vote center around the county.
Local voting locations are currently open from8a.m.to5p.m.(7a.m.to8p.m.on Election Day) at City Hall and the Beverly Hilton. On Feb. 29, the Beverly Hills Women’s Club will also open its doors to accept absentee ballots as well as give voters the chance to use the brand-new Voting System for All People (VSAP), a touchscreen computerized ballot-marking device.
As of Feb. 26, 259 residents had voted in-person at a Vote Center and 1,668 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned. There are a total of 21,856 registered voters in Beverly Hills. However, people can register to vote at a Vote Center through Election Day, March 3, in order to have their vote count in the election.
Those who do vote in person will need to hit the “more” button on the City Council race in order to see all candidates listed on the ballot.
“Don’t hit ‘next’ until you hit ‘more,'” recommends City Clerk Huma Ahmed.