2022 City Council candidates answer Sun questions 7 and 8

This week, candidates received the last two questions before the election. Seal Beach City Council candidates were limited to 400 words for their answers.

The question was posted on the Sun website and Facebook, and emailed to each of the 10 candidates. Candidates were notified by phone that the questions had been sent.

If a candidate did not answer, the Sun left a voicemail.  When a candidate’s line was busy, the candidate was notified by text. One candidate sent an answer to the eighth question, but the Sun did not receive an answer to the seventh question.

District One

Question 7: Should staff reports specifically and clearly state when funding for an item is related to Measure BB?

Chris DeSanto

Christopher DeSanto

As a corporate finance guy, transparency as part of my platform. I would see to it that all initiatives indicate where the source of funding is from. Why stop at measure BB? When it comes to taxpayer money, it should be in plain sight where your money is being spent and where it came from.

One of my biggest concerns with information given to the public, particularly city council meeting packets, is that they are hundreds of pages long. From the city council members themselves to the public at large, sifting through that amount of material is rather discouraging. Having that large of a data dump invites confusion at best, burying information at worst.

There comes a point in every finance person’s career where they are asked to do something unethical, if not outright illegal. Such a time has presented itself in my career. Rather than go with the flow and accept what I disagreed with, I simply walked away. As a man of extreme integrity, I won’t sign off on financials that I believe to be ill conceived or misrepresent reality. Finance sees everything in a company/organization, and it’s up to us to sound the alarm.

Finally, I will mention standard of care. There are four ways to spend money. You can spend your money on yourself, your money on other people, other peoples’ money on yourself and other peoples’ money on other people. The last one, is the government. The problem with it is that they’re not the end user, and it’s not their money. Our city staff work hard, no doubt; however, it is a morale hazard. Here’s the thing – I will treat your money, with the same standard of care as I do my own.

Joe Kalmick

Joe Kalmick

In November of 2018, Measure BB was passed by the voters in Seal Beach. The proponents of the additional 1% sales tax were primarily interested in adequately funding our Police Department and adding additional officers to increase public safety.

The actual ballot measure stated that Measure BB would provide local funds for critical services, including 911 emergency response, fire protection and emergency medical response, marine safety and lifeguards, street maintenance and repairs, etc. It requires that all funds are used locally, and requires independent financial audits.

Since its passage, the Police Department has added two additional sworn officers, and by year’s end will be bringing back our own in-house Animal Control Services.

And as there was a concern that the revenues were to be put to their proper use, staff reports did originally state when funding for an item was related to Measure BB. As the sales tax measure has been in place for almost 4 years now, the incoming funds are integrated into the various fund accounts, which are audited annually. At this point I don’t believe that it is necessary to state on every staff report whether the item is related specifically to Measure BB.

Gregg Barton

Gregg Barton

Yes, of course, staff reports should specifically and clearly state when funding for an item is related to Measure BB. This is a simple matter of accounting for where we are directing our money.

How can we decide on budgeting changes if we don’t have specific information on where we’re directing our money?

Measure BB was approved in November 2018, as a one percent sales tax. It was approved to enhance essential services and promised more police staffing.

It was approved with independent audits to ensure transparency. So, the question is why we wouldn’t clearly state how we direct funds? The hope is that these funds will keep our police and emergency services staffing levels at or above their recent levels so we can enjoy a safe and secure town.

With Measure BB, the voters decided to invest their hard-earned dollars in continuing the progress of our city. And, as public servants, Council members are bound to clearly show where funds originate and how they are spent. This is that important function of transparency. An extra $5 million in funding each year is important to our success, giving us the chance to choose among funding different essential needs: police, fire, marine safety, etc.

Hearing from residents and local business is what I value most. It’s the part I love. That means making sure you know where our monies come from and how they are spent.

Question 8: Name three things you will not do if elected.

Chris DeSanto

Business as usual. As an outsider to the political process, I will not accept business as usual or going through the motions. What are we doing, and why are we doing it? From simple and clerical to awarding large city contracts, I will ask the question that no one else will. I have the experience, and the confidence, to challenge the status quo. I am unafraid to ask hard or even basic questions.

While I am a “question everything” kind of guy, not everything needs changing or reinvention of the wheel. If it still makes sense to keep doing what we’re doing, then by all means keep it. All I’m here to do is to evaluate whether what we are doing is still in the community’s best interests.

Go it alone. When was the last time you felt heard? Really listened to. Talked to and with instead of talked at. I have learned over the course of my life and career that the job isn’t spreadsheets. The job is people. I am running to be the voice of the people – to listen to you.

I’m a collaborative consensus builder. I’m not interested in charging ahead alone with a preconceived agenda. Decisions eventually need to be made, but reaching out and building relationships costs me nothing, except for a bit of my time. No one has all the answers, but what I do know is if we aren’t making mistakes, we aren’t trying. No one gets it right all the time; however, we will learn valuable lessons along the way and improve our decision-making processes. By collaborating with our community, businesses and external partners and stakeholders, we will find creative solutions and improve our city, together.

Be a politician. While I have learned a lot through the campaigning process, I remain true to myself and to others. I’m not a politician, I’m your neighbor. I pride myself on being authentic in every interaction. What you see, is what you get. I’m willing to put my real myself out there. Will we always agree? Of course not. However, you will always know what I’m really thinking and where I stand. I give authenticity away freely, but I also expect and demand it in return. We should expect more from our leaders, and I’m running to do just that.

Joe Kalmick

There are several things that I would not do if I am re-elected.

Most important, is that I will not give up on my quest for a solution to the trash and pollution problem from the flow of the San Gabriel River from the watershed down to the ocean. The primary difficulty is that the jurisdictions include 53 cities and the counties of Los Angeles and Orange. There has been state funding in place for each city to install collectors in the storm drain, but the deadline is not until 2030. Thus far I have met with each of our elected state officials, and lobbied the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. And as soon as a new mayor is seated in Long Beach I will endeavor to meet with him or her to look at cooperative projects. We will also continue to evaluate any new mechanical devices.

Second, I will not entertain any proposals to cut back on our current police department or paramedic and fire service (We contract for paramedic and fire service with the Orange County Fire Authority. Our current contract runs until 2030). Though our current budget is projected to be balanced, there are many unanswered questions about what our revenues will be. Eventually I would like to see our downtown COP program expanded to year round service, which would mean hiring additional officers. But no matter what, we must maintain our current level of service.

And finally, if re-elected I would not support any proposals to not comply with the State’s Housing and Community Development Department’s mandate for rezoning property within the City that could lead to a minimum of 1243 additional housing units. The consequences of non-compliance are substantial, and can lead to fines, loss of ability to apply for grants, and worse. We must look at this situation as an important exercise, as compliance doesn’t necessarily mean that these housing units will actually be built.

Gregg Barton

Creating a short list of three things I won’t do if elected is a no-brainer. These are big ticket ethical values that mean so much to us all:

1. I will never be a “No Show” unless I have been exposed to and come down with COVID (or another emergency) as was the case for the candidate’s night last week.  Being effective means showing up.  I was sorry to miss that night because there was much to be said, but the safety of others was more important than that. Council members need to be present for each meeting and public event where they’re expected.

2. I will Never Close the City Council Chamber doors unless required by law. Let’s face reality. Towns with open government run more smoothly. The public needs to help Council decisions, not just have to live with the effects of them.

3. Joe Kalmick has said he wants to remove the both trees and lighting on Main Street.  I won’t do that.  Main Street should be cleaned up and brought back to its lovely, quaint self.  Tearing out what we have would be a waste of tax payer dollars.

I ask you to vote for Gregg Barton to put YOU first again.

District Three

Question 7: Should staff reports specifically and clearly state when funding for an item is related to Measure BB?

Fred Macksoud

Frank Macksoud

Measure BB was unanimously approved by the City Council and was placed on the ballot for voter approval or rejection in the 2018 general election, held on November 6, 2018.  The Measure provided for an increase of 1 cent (one percent) for each dollar of sales tax collected on state taxable sales within the City.  It was estimated that the Measure would raise approximately $5 million dollars in new local revenue for exclusive use in our City.

The City Council’s adopted ballot question stated this new revenue would be used for essential City services, including community police patrols, paramedic services, fire protection, marine safety and lifeguards, school safety, 911 response times, and other essential general city services.

Accountability over revenue and expenditures from the City’s Sales Tax Ordinance is part of the City’s independent audit, and includes the sums collected pursuant to the Measure, the report of which is available to the public.

Measure BB was specifically titled as City Beach Neighborhood Safety and Essential Services Protection, and the arguments in favor mentioned police and/or fire service along with the importance of maintaining local control and transparency in reporting where the monies are spent.

The Measure passed by 57 percent in favor against 41 percent opposed, and was effective immediately after it was passed.  It is now set forth in City Ordinance section 1671.

Approximately $10.14 million in sales taxes were collected in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2021 as reported in the independent City audit.  The audit also estimated that BB collections would amount to $5.7 million in 2022.

I voted Yes on the Measure with the expectation that the money collected would be spent predominantly or exclusively for our first responders (police, fire, and lifeguard personnel).  I assume many others also voted yes to support those services.

I have consistently stated, beginning with my campaign to represent voters in the Third District, that a city’s schools, first responder (police and fire (paramedics)  and lifeguards) protection make it a desirable place to live and enjoy the beach.

I strongly feel that staff reports should specifically state if an item is related to funds collected under Measure BB, so that everyone in City government understands that this item is considered or funded in whole or in part for public safety.

Vote for me and I will make sure that BB sales tax funds are properly administered and spent.

Lisa Landau

Lisa Landau

Absolutely! The staff reports must clearly state when funding for an item that is related to BB. In addition, to the staff reports, the budget should clearly show how much money has come in from each source and show how the money is being spent.

This is the people’s money. The people are owed a transparent explanation as to how their money is spent.

BB was passed to help staff the Police Department with officers on the beat.  It was also passed to ensure essential services are maintained.  There should be no obfuscation as to how much BB is generating and how it is spent.  In addition, we should see the results by having our police officers visible in our residential and business areas.

Stephanie Wade

Stephanie Wade

When it comes to taxpayer funds, accountability and transparency are my watchwords. That’s why I support the requirements for an audit of Measure BB funds, as required by the original ballot measure.

On council I will go further and call for a full audit of city operations and finances by an independent accounting firm with expertise in municipal finance.

Current budget reports, available on the finance department’s website, account for the funds raised by the 1% sales tax established by Measure BB, which were $4.3 million last year and are projected to raise just under $5 mil. this fiscal year. Tracing those funds throughout our system is less clear because the ballot measure directs the money to the general fund without specific restrictions on its use (although it does give general examples of the kinds of services it was meant to help fund).

I support requiring staff reports to identify the use of BB funds, if that reporting can be accomplished without adding unnecessarily bureaucratic burdens that distract our staff from the rest of the city’s business. The purpose of that reporting should make it easier to trace – and understand—the funds, not harder.

Question 8: Name three things you will not do if elected.

Fred Macksoud

The first thing I would not do is to vote to conduct an investigation of, or fire, our City Manager, Jill Ingram, as has been advocated by one of my opponents.

I have met her and observed her performance at City Council meetings.  She conducts herself in an extremely knowledgeable, evenhanded manner.  She further shows patience and understanding in correctly answering questions posed by attendees.

Her candidate orientation presentation, where she introduced her team of management personnel, was very edifying.  Her team showed their enthusiasm in working with her, and their high morale was very evident.

I further listened to her proposals and her interaction with City Council members during the September City Strategic Planning Workshop, where she again demonstrated her deep knowledge of all the issues facing the City and its future.

I have spoken with people that work with her who say she is very talented and insightful, that she is of great benefit to our City, and would be difficult to replace.

I agree with them, and look forward to working with her when I am elected.

The second thing I would not do is vote to reduce personnel levels or funding for our police, firefighters, paramedics, lifeguards and other city workers.  Measure BB shows community support.  I have studied the budget, and have seen no waste. I have noted the number of City employees as appropriate for a city our size.

Our employees work hard to keep our City working efficiently.  Our management and those who work for them are dedicated and demonstrate high morale.  I think we are on the right track in bringing back local control of previously outsourced city services, such as Animal Control.  I am not in favor of outsourcing City duties or losing local control.

Lisa Landau

1. I will not forget Sarah Krueger. On the morning of August 11, 2017, at 11:05 am Sarah stepped into the crosswalk at PCH and 12th St and was accidentally struck by one of her neighbors forever changing two families and losing a beautiful soul. Eight days after this tragic accident, more than 2,000 people showed up to walk for Sarah and finish her walk.  Afterward, Caltrans modified the existing marked crosswalks to “Ladder Marked Crosswalks” at that location and installed “Turning Vehicles Yield to Pedestrian” signs on Balboa Street and 12th Street. This is not enough. I will stand with Larry Krueger and his family and friends to get “Sarah’s Light,” a dedicated left turn light, to keep our community safer when they cross PCH.  No other family should ever have to feel this loss.

2.  I will not take the endorsements or contributions of any union groups. I feel this would be a conflict of interest.  Our union employees will be looking to negotiate their contracts. When I vote it will be unbiased and fiscally responsible for our community and fair to the union members.  To do this I will not accept endorsements or contributions from unions.

3.  I will not “play favorites”.  Whether someone has supported me or not will never play into a decision I make.  All our residents and businesses will be on an equal footing with me.  In the past, I’ve watched as some residents get preferential treatment because they were friends of sitting council members.  I will treat all our residents and businesses with respect and fairness.

Please vote for Lisa Landau…I will keep Seal Beach small, quaint and safe.

Stephanie Wade

1. I will not be intemperate, rude or get angry when I disagree with others, on council, with staff or in our community.

We are done with the vitriol and tribal hatreds that have made it so hard to talk to each other about important social and political issues. My experience in local government taught me that it works best when we listen to each other, collaborate and have the courage to change our minds when someone presents a better solution. I believe in treating others with respect, even if I disagree with them.

My social media includes disagreements but no personal attacks. I’ve never deleted or hidden anything, even if something I posted was provocative.

2. I will not disrespect the flag.

In fact, you can count on me to be the person on Council most committed to it. Back in July, I saw an unserviceable, tattered flag flying over the Pier. I asked the City Council to replace it and it worked—see the before and after pictures on my campaign Facebook page! As a Corporal of the Guard, I led a colors detail in the Marine Corps and learned a deep respect for the flag and the nation it stands for. At my campaign events, I fly the US flag and the flags of all the service branches and teach volunteers how to properly fold it!

3. I will recuse myself on issues where there might be a conflict of interest.

Accountability and transparency are two of my strongest values. Reports and rumors from my friends and neighbors of repeated self-dealing and conflicts of interests are troubling. Even if these rumors are merely problems of perception, we should be accountable. City representatives and staff must abide by the strictest rules of transparency; anything else is unacceptable. I have no contracts with the city, nor do my friends and family. I don’t have close ties or financial interests with any business in the city. If I or any close associates ever do, before being asked to do so, I will recuse myself from any decisions or actions which might present a conflict of interest. I will work to restore the confidence of those who have questioned the integrity of our city government.

District Five

Question 7: Should staff reports specifically and clearly state when funding for an item is related to Measure BB?

Jonathan Rich

Jonathan Rich

Measure BB increased Seal Beach sales tax by 1%, adding significantly to funds available to the city. Seal Beach voters wisely decided that deferred maintenance and debt are false economies. They are trusting the city to wisely spend this additional revenue. In fact, the ballot question guarantees “independent audits to ensure transparency.”

I absolutely would expect specific and clear accounting of how Measure BB funds are being spent and would ensure that this information is available to Seal Beach citizens. More generally, I believe that financial transparency is a key element for good government. I want clear accounting so that citizens can easily understand where we get money and where the money is going. In my 20 years working for the County of Orange, I learned the importance of presenting information in a clear and simple way. I want Seal Beach finances to be available and understandable for the average citizen – not just to those with accounting expertise.

Michael McGrorty

Michael McGrorty

Measure BB was a general sales tax passed in 2018 intended to offset budget cuts and revenue losses in order to maintain city services.  As a general tax, the measure required only a simple majority.  A specific tax to support public safety, for example, would have required a two-thirds affirmative vote.  The final tally was 58.57% in favor.  In all likelihood, a specific tax would not have passed. The Measure BB funds are audited independently, with the result posted publicly.  The official ballot argument in favor of BB prominently noted the decline in the number of police officers in describing the need for the measure’s passage.  In other words, the public were essentially sold on a “general” measure whose actual goal was to support law enforcement.  Police are an essential item, and a main budget item in any city.  A specific call-out of Measure BB fund expenditures is nice, but it’s hardly necessary to show that the lion’s share of the tax went to what the reports term “public safety.”  Total expenditures last year were almost $36 million, of which over $21 million went in that direction.   It would be easy to say that Measure BB was sold to the public in a disingenuous manner, but the general tax classification is a legal way of doing what needs to be done.  Posting the actual spending of Measure BB dollars is a good way to demonstrate that the money is being well-spent, and in what direction.  A further step, and in my mind an essential one, would be to demonstrate how the city receives and expends its cash according to Council District.  That way we could all see where the money comes from, and goes.   

Nathan Steele

Nathan Steele

Editor’s Note: The Sun did not receive a reply to this question from Nathan Steele.



Mariann Klinger

Mariann Klinger

I don’t think  it’s necessary to report specific funding for an item that comes from Measure BB, which raised taxes from 7.75% to 8.75%. The one-cent tax increase, effective in 2019, went to the general fund. At the time, there was significant pressure on the council to use the funds for public safety, that is hire police officers. Since that time, the city has hired three new police officers at an approximate cost of $850,000. The one-cent increase, however, actually contributes at least $4.7 million to the general fund, allowing for expenditures beyond public safety. Staff reports at budget meetings disclose the expenses covered by general fund monies.

Question 8: Name three things you will not do if elected.

Jonathan Rich

1) Treat you differently because of who you are or what you believe, including your political party, religion, or background. My beliefs are an important part of my identity. But I will never see the citizens of Seal Beach as “us vs them.” All of us have deeply held political and spiritual beliefs that are important and help to guide us. But I will not consider your voice less important because of whom you identify with or what you believe.

2) Make decisions without information. City council members are entrusted with the city’s most important decisions – decisions that could have an impact for decades to come. I will never make decisions based solely on personal preference or superficial analysis. My decisions will be primarily based on the will of Leisure World/Seal Beach citizens. I will work to understand all factors that affect a decision, including budgetary concerns, legal ramifications, and how a decision will impact the future of the city and the quality of life of its citizens.

3) Ignore constituents. In a small town like Seal Beach, I see the potential for true and direct democracy, which is why I refrained from simply signing on with a blanket endorsement from a political party. I believe the city council role is a local one, dealing with local issues, rather than national or partisan issues, and so I have run an independent and economical campaign, based more on listening than marketing.  At the start of my campaign, I conducted surveys of Leisure World and Seal Beach registered voters. This gave me a good understanding of who we are and what we want as a city. I also responded to every one of your emails (RichSealBeach@gmail.com). If elected, I would continue this “open door,” data-based policy. I understand that you have busy lives and only a small portion of the citizens attend city council meetings. But modern technology makes it easy for all of you to have input and be heard when planning the future of our beautiful city and the Leisure World community.

Michael McGrorty

1. I will not treat this as a part-time or vanity position.  I’ll go at it full-time, with full vigor.  I’m a professional investigator, used to helping many people simultaneously.

2. I will not treat Seal Beach as more important than District 5.  Seal Beach will not have elected me, and the city’s concerns are secondary to those of this constituency.  In all my decisions and choices, my dominant concern will be ‘what’s in this for Leisure World?’

3. I will not buy the argument that very little has to be done for District 5 because it’s a private community with its own infrastructure and resources.  [If that’s true, perhaps we don’t need the city at all.]  In truth, we are demonstrably more needy than the rest of the city: poorer, older, more handicapped, more income- and food-insecure.  This is nothing to ignore, or to assign to scattered and unreliable resources.  Just because we are uncomplaining doesn’t mean we are without genuine needs.

Nathan Steele

I will not lie.  I will not compromise my values.  I will not work in a divisive, antagonistic way.

I will work in a positive, constructive manner, bringing all my talents and energies to the business of Seal Beach.

I have embraced as my campaign theme Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”  If elected, that will remain my commitment to Seal Beach and my neighbors here in Leisure World.

Mariann Klinger

I prefer to refocus the question to discuss what I will do. I expect to follow the typical code of ethics for city council members, including performing duties to the best of my ability, treating the public, council members and staff in a fair, equitable and courteous manner. I’ll work to ensure that city resources are used in compliance with city policies, solely for the benefit of the city. I intend to act with honesty and integrity, while using my best independent judgment to pursue the common good.