4 different candidates vie for 2 seats on Calabasas City Council
Calabasas City Council
Incumbent: Mayor Alicia Weintraub, 43, has been on the Calabasas City Council since 2015. She graduated UCLA and went on to earn a master’s of public policy degree from Pepperdine University. The married mother of two has spent a long career working for cities in Southern California and uses her local government and public policy experience in Calabasas.
- Susan Fredericks Ploussard is a 64-year-old dentist with no elected positions to tout but many years as a community volunteer and a board member at several medical-related institutions. She is a UCLA Bruin through and through and married with two children also in the medical field.
- Peter Kraut, 53, is married and has two adult children. Kraut has his degree in architectural engineering technology and has been a Calabasas planning commissioner for four years and believes in listening to residents is a No. 1 priority.
- Dennis Washburn, 77, has been married for 54 years and has three children and four grandchildren. The Navy veteran has been in an elected office for 34 plus years and is a founding member of Calabasas and served on the Calabasas City Council from 1991 to 2011.
The Race: Four strong candidates with varying leadership skills and backgrounds are vying for two seats on the council.
While Calabasas residents are possibly saying hello to new faces on the city council, the celebrity Kardashian family is saying goodbye to their television audience who has been watching their lives from their luxurious Calabasas home for years.
Four contenders — one an incumbent, one a city founder, another a planning commissioner, along with the newest face in town — have thrown their hats in the ring.
Two of them will emerge victorious in the Nov. 3 election.
Those elected will have a seat on the dais and a hand in bringing the town through the financial and emotional impacts the coronavirus has had on residents and businesses and updating the general plan as it relates to development, preservation of open space, environmental resources, traffic issues and the infrastructure.
Helping the homeless and securing fire protection and public safety funds within the city’s 14-square miles that is nearly half comprised of open space will also be on their plate.
Mayor Alicia Weintraub, who is up for reelection, presented the state of the city address on Sept. 16 in which she shared how the city has been going through rough times especially since the pandemic.
“But I believe through hard work, we will come out even stronger,” she said.
Weintraub wants to keep protecting Calabasas’ special way of life while safeguarding hard-earned tax dollars so that the city remains fiscally secure.
“I will continue to make certain the city addresses the needs of our residents,” Weintraub said. “I will work with other neighboring cities to coordinate public safety, protect our environment and strengthen our combined ability to improve first responder capabilities throughout the region. Public safety and emergency preparedness are issues that we continuously need to improve and focus our efforts.”
The second council seat came up for grabs when councilmember Fred Gaines chose not to seek re-election after two terms. In the spring, Gaines was selected chair of The Valley Economic Alliance, a nonprofit collaborative of stakeholders across Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Los Angeles and San Fernando.
Susan Fredericks-Ploussard, a dentist and the new face in Calabasas politics, said she initially took a step toward the world of elected office because of the city’s poor response to the Woolsey Fire and inappropriate spending by the City Council.
“Then when the pandemic hit, I believe with my master’s in public health, I could assist the city and school district management in their efforts to handle the next phases of further reopening of schools and businesses,” Fredericks-Ploussard added. “It is imperative for the financial and psychological well-being of the city to get back to more normal operations. A public health education may seem like an unconventional path to the city council, but I can think of no better preparation for our road ahead.”
Candidates Peter Kraut and Dennis Washburn will have something to say about that.
Both men are currently planning commissioners.
Kraut says his voting record on the commission proves he can and will protect open space and environmental resources in Calabasas.
“(The) Calabasas City Council has not been acting in the best interest of its residents, sacrificing the environment for developers and taking money from our schools to give to big businesses,” Kraut said. “Our General Plan Housing Element is up for renewal. I’ll fight to protect open space and to keep new development out of very high fire hazard severity zones like Calabasas.”
Washburn, a city founder, became the first mayor in the gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in northern Los Angeles County in 1991 and served on the council for more than two decades before resigning his seat a decade ago.
He’s been serving on the planning commission and now wants to circle back onto the council.
“My next four years or more will be devoted to creating the fire, life, safety corridor plans for our Calabasas Scenic Highway Corridors that we have successfully implemented over the past 30 years to protect, beautify and conserve our human and natural resources,” he said. “This is to respond to the crises we face with the respiratory plague, the economic collapse and uncertain recovery strategies. We also need to totally revamp our emergency communications and computer-driven systems to meet the imperatives of our future.”
Fredericks-Ploussard and Weintraub believe neighborhood watches are key to keeping crime, while Kraut wants law enforcement patrolling in the most needed areas and Washburn favors the path the city is already taking.
“We will continue to devote nearly a quarter of our operating budget to public safety, security, health and civic services to Calabasas and our creative sourcing of funding and management of our needs for law enforcement, fire protection, emergency response and collaboration with our sister cities, counties, state and federal partners,” Washburn said.
The candidates generally believe business has been good in Calabasas in the past, but the pandemic has shaken its foundation and business owners have been under siege.
Empty storefronts and office buildings are a sign of the times.
“I believe that Calabasas would greatly benefit from a program that offers grants and fee waivers for new businesses in existing retail centers and offices,” Kraut said.
All of the candidates express compassion for the homeless, many who sleep in cars. Weintraub would like to hire a homeless outreach coordinator.
“No shelter is planned in the Agoura, Calabasas, Westlake area, but outreach workers from the county are available to help and be supportive about finding housing, etc.,” Fredericks-Ploussard said.
Residents will also be voting on the 2020 Cannabis Tax Measure C, which places a 10% tax on the gross receipts of cannabis businesses delivering products in Calabasas.
Currently, Calabasas prohibits cannabis businesses from operating within city limits.
Measure C will not change that prohibition.
Fredericks-Ploussard is the only candidate in opposition.