Pictured  above (L to R) moderator Pete Peterson, Dean Pepperdine School of Public Policy addressing  Malibu City Council  Candidates: Jennifer deNicola, Skylar Peak, Carl Randall,  Laureen Sills,  and Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner.   The  Malibu Rotary Club  sponsored the special Malibu City Council Candidates Forum Wednesday Oct 19 in the Pepperdine University Fireside Room   in front of about 70 people.  

The  forum  was open to the public.   Six  candidates were running to fill to fill three Council seats that  were currently held by Joan House, Skylar Peak, and John Sibert. The city election would be part of the General Election on November 8.  


The following is a complete list of qualified City  Council candidates as their names would appear on the ballot:

Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner
Laureen Sills
Jennifer Blue deNicola
Carl Randall
Skylar Peak
Rick Mullen

All 6  candidates accepted the Malibu Rotary Club invitation to participate in the Malibu City Council Candidates Forum on October 19 but Rick Mullen, a Malibu Fire Captain was on duty because of the Santa Ana winds fire danger that day.  Candidates talked about why they chose to run for City Council and their vision for Malibu in the future.


The Candidates were given 1 minute for opening statement and then 3 minutes to answer questions posed by moderator. Moderator Pete Peterson acknowledged that the candidates had ample opportunity to state their positions in previous forums and interviews in the Malibu Times.
Indeed, it appeared that the positions of all the candidates were the same on nearly the same all issues. They all wanted to preserve the rural character of Malibu. They favored Measure R, passed in 2014, which put citywide restrictions on formula retail establishments.  They all thought that the City of Malibu should set an example of water and energy conservation.  They all favored the dark sky movement to reduce night light pollution.  They all favored measures to increase safety on PCH, the City buying land to create parks and playing fields, discourage big box stores and they all favored the creation and city support of an independent Malibu school district.
Moderator Pete Peterson praised the candidates for their commitment to run for public office and serve and asked questions about the candidates motivation to run for Malibu City Council. He also acknowledged that there will be challenges and issues  they’ll face while serving as city council members which they may not be aware of now.  How do they make their decisions?
“Understanding that many of the policy questions have been covered in previous debates, my hope here is to provide the public with more of a sense of what makes you tick, more of your personal side, what drove you to run for public office and how you think about policy,” Peterson said. 
They all seemed to indicate they would want to always find out how their fellow Malibu residence felt, and pass ordinances that would demonstrate the will of the people.
Moderator Pete also asked them how they will deal with the city staff.  They all said that it was important to get to know the  City Manager and the City Attorney.  It is up to the City Manager to execute the plans of the city.
Although only Skylar Peak and Jefferson Wagner are or were City Council members in the past, all the candidates had experience in working with governments to try to make change they thought were necessary.  

Jennifer deNicola focused on the need to improve congestion and traffic on the PCH, noting it is the “artery of our town.” She also mentioned the need to ensure that there is good water quality in Malibu, and opined that Malibu needs its own school district. 

Skylar Peak noted that one of his primary focuses concerns environmental issues, and in his opinion, the City of Malibu should go solar by 2020, and herbicides should not be legal. When pressed by Peterson on how much going solar would cost the City, Peak said it would cost approximately $1 million to transition to solar and the investment would pay off that after seven to eight years, given the City’s annual cost of electricity.

Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner noted he will take on necessary tasks and see them through to closure.  

Laureen Sills noted that for 30 years she has worked on community issues, and she is concerned about purchasing land to avoid lawsuits against the City, and that she would like to find ways for Malibu local businesses to profit more from expenditures by tourists. 

Carl Randall noted that he is concerned about short-term rentals and rehabilitation centers impacting neighborhoods.

Peterson also inquired about the “Malibu Team,” the slate of Peak, Mullen and Wagner. 

“One of the more prominent political questions in this year’s race is the ‘Malibu Team’ of candidates Peak, Wagner and Mullen. Focusing this question on you three, Jay, in a recent interview on this issue, you said, ‘we felt that we were similar enough in understanding of where we stood that the familiarity drew us together.’ My question is what single issue do the three of you most agree on, and which one do you see as there being a diversity of opinion?”

Peak and Wagner responded that their foci were symmetrical. The trio is concerned about public safety, safety issues relating to PCH, development in Malibu being done sensibly, and having black and white standards controlling when variances are granted so as to avoid favoritism. 

They each noted that they differed in their approach. Wagner noted he uses a “nuts and bolts” approach to implementing actions, while Mullen is the type to want to press and get things done. Peak agreed, noting that he has a strong environmental focus and that he studies an issue and assesses risk and then takes action. 

Peterson then addressed the three individual candidates, asking: “Do you see an issue that the three candidates agree on that you would see as problematic?” 

DeNicola said she focuses on getting things done and, after the research and background studies are completed, one needs to take action. She also noted that there should be no cronyism in City politics and every citizen should operate under the same parameters.  

Randall noted that he advocates Malibu having an independent school district, and he thinks that, overall, the will of the people should be followed. 

Sills said she feels changes to Malibu Village shopping center allowing big box vendors was done as a “deal in the back room by lawyers and that is not how to legislate zoning laws in this City. That was not done for the people of Malibu.” 

“Looking forward, what particular policy success would you look forward to claiming at the end of your term should you be elected?” Peterson asked.

DeNicola said she would like to see an ordinance for Malibu to be a sustainable green city that protects wildlife. 

Peak said he hopes to see California ban harmful, disposable products that don’t break down. 

Randall said he would like to see improvements in PCH safety. 

Sills stated that in her mind, there should be local control exercises such that the City supports a viable, healthy school district that nurtures children. 

Wagner stated he would like to see City Hall move from a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver status to a LEED gold or platinum status. 

The fact is that all the candidates running for city council seemed more qualified for their role than candidates for national office chosen by major policial parties seem for theirs
As a community event the Malibu Rotary Club sponsored Malibu City Council Forum was an overwhelming success. 70 to 75 people attended the City Council Forum--a remarkable achievement since in occurred the same time as the National Presidential debate, a Dodger playoff game and a Laker game..
Besides the candidates and their supporters the Malibu Rotary Club owes a debt of gratitude to Dean Pete Peterson for the time and expertise he gave us , for the staff at Pepperdine University including facilities manager Maureen Manning, the set up crew, and AV Presentations sound engineer Jordan Seah and his crew.
--Barbara Burke and John Elman Contributed to this story