Local businessman and security professional Russell Stuart has declared his candidacy for Beverly Hills City Council and is one of 10 candidates vying for two open seats in the March 5 Election.
Stuart is the owner of local business Force Protection Agency, which provides private security, firearms, private investigators and security consulting services. He lives in the city with his wife Lisa and his daughter Arabelle who is a third-grade student in the BHUSD.
He believes his singular blend of professional and personal experiences will set him apart in a crowded field of candidates.
“I think a big part of my uniqueness is that I’m an outsider; I’m not someone who has come up through the system,” he told the Courier. “I’m a taxpayer, I’m a home renter, I’m someone who sees things much more from a blue-collar, middle-class perspective than a lot of the other candidates who come from a bit more of a position of privilege.”
This privilege is not only in a financial sense, he said, but also in terms of connections within the city that increase one’s chances of being appointed to a commission or other positions of influence.
Stuart has not served on a commission but does not view this as a weak spot.
Instead, he has learned a great deal about the city through running a local business and participating in TEAM Beverly Hills and the BHFD’s Community Emergency Response Team program, he said.
“As someone who handles my own regulatory permits, my own business taxes, my own water bill, my own business permits—in one of the most highly regulated industries that you could possibly be in—I deal with City Hall constantly,” he told the Courier.
Ensuring top-notch public safety is Stuart’s number one priority, as it is for many of the other candidates. However, unlike most other candidates Stuart has 20 years of professional experience in the security industry.
“I believe that makes me uniquely qualified on the public safety side, because I understand safety, I understand security, we work with police, we work with federal agents on investigations,” he told the Courier. “I understand so many different aspects of this industry.”
When it comes to bolstering safety, Stuart wants the city to not only focus on investing in the best technology, but also in the best people.
Conversations with public safety personnel have given him many insights into what the city could do to improve working conditions. This includes more mental health support for officers, intentional scheduling to alleviate the strain created by long commutes, financial hiring incentives, school enrollment incentives for their children, and the creation of more affordable housing.
“That is how you’re going to get the best quality people to not only come here, but to stay here,” he told the Courier.
Stuart would like the city to focus on providing housing that is affordable to its employees and also explore the possibility of offering workforce housing subsidies.
“I recognize that it’s an honor and a privilege to live here, but we need to have moderate-
income housing for the men and women who work here in the city, in fire, in administration, in law enforcement, so they don’t have to drive 60 miles home every day,” he said.
In addition, Stuart wants more transparency between the police department, the city and the public. He believes that residents should be able to easily access detailed, accurate, and up-to-date information about when and where public safety incidents occur.”
“We need to inform the public better,” he said. “My gun store is packed on a daily basis. I hear what the community is saying, fear is massive, and that fear can be at least minimized with information.”
Stuart’s other top priorities include maintaining top-quality and safe schools and fostering a supportive environment for local businesses.
“I truly care about Beverly Hills. It was a dream of mine to live here, and it remains a privilege to raise my family and create roots in this place I love,” he said in his campaign announcement. “Beverly Hills needs someone to speak on behalf of the working people of the city.”
“If given the opportunity to serve, I promise to do everything in my power to make real change happen.”