2022 City Council candidates answer Sun questions

Question 1: What specifically will you do differently from the past council, and more importantly, how will it be funded?

Seal Beach City 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 question had been sent. If a candidate did not answer, the Sun left a voicemail.

In one instance, a candidate’s line was busy and that candidate was notified by text.

District One

Gregg Barton

Gregg Barton

Since Covid our government has lost its purpose and we are not better off today than we were four years ago it is time to put residents first again. Being a beach city, police presence is a must. Our residents voted for a 1% sales tax to put more police on the streets, yet today the presence of our police on our streets is worse than ever. The current council has failed to honor the vote of our people. I intend to change that!

Thank you,

Gregg Barton

Chris DeSanto

Christopher DeSanto

First, I want to thank the Sun Newspaper for hosting these weekly Q&As. It allows all candidates an opportunity to have visibility with the residents. And in turn, it gives the residents the opportunity to learn more about the candidates and how we think.

Overall, many changes I would make are both substance and process driven. Substance meaning something tangible (e.g. repaving a sidewalk) and process meaning something intangible (e.g. city council meeting flow).

Follow the money. My first order of business if elected would be to solicit a performance audit of our city. As a numbers and data guy, the city council cannot act until we have concrete and accurate data to make decisions from. We need to benchmark our city against five comparable cities and identify what our financial strengths and areas of opportunity are. I would use that report and data to make actionable changes, no matter how unpleasant the audit’s conclusions might be. As for cost, these audits generally are not material, and would anticipate being ancillary to our overall budget and expenditures.

Waste on our beach. As an avid beachgoer and appreciate why we all live here, I would build relationships with surrounding communities, counties and the state, and leverage those relationships to put in place a meaningful and active waste reclamation solution in the San Gabriel River. While upstream communities play a role in terms of the waste arriving on our beach, we need a leader who will ask for help for the betterment not of only the residents of Seal Beach, but for the environment at large. This effort would be inter-communal from both a jurisdictional and cost perspective.

City policies and procedures. I would order a top to bottom review of city policies and procedures. From my corporate finance career and having been heavily engaged in operations, I know that city staff are likely bogged down in process and minutia – nonvalue added activities. My aim would be to implement new processes and technologies wherever possible to free up the staff’s time to do what they should be doing – providing world class customer service to our residents. To initiate the review, there are consultants that specialize in this sort of thing. These reviews generally are not materially costly; however, the efficiencies and streamlining that would result would free up much of our internal staff and contractor time.

Thank you again!


Joe Kalmick

Joe Kalmick

As the incumbent running for re-election in District 1. I am part of the “past council”. But  for me it’s not about what I would do differently, but rather continuing to work toward accomplishing the Council’s goals that were established at our recent Strategic Planning meeting.

One of the proposals that I’ve worked on with Staff and Council is a partial solution to solving our downtown parking problems in conjunction with also evaluating our current parklet program and its future. It would involve establishing what is called a micro shuttle system, which utilizes six passenger electric golf carts that would circulate throughout Old Town and the Hill, and could be hailed or called using an app on one’s cell phone. Those residents who would otherwise use their cars to come downtown to shop or eat or go to the beach could leave their cars at home. This would reduce traffic, free up parking spaces, and utilize a non-polluting mode of transportation.The same type of program is currently operating in Huntington Beach, and Long Beach has just announced that their program that would circulate from the Belmont Shore area and through the Marina will begin early next month. The company that provides the service is called Circuit, and their vehicles and drivers are fully insured.

As for funding at least a pilot program, Staff has already applied for a grant from AQMD that would cover the costs involved. We are told that we have an excellent chance to receive this grant.

Additionally, as we look to the future, it’s time to look for even more substantial parking solutions, such as the construction of a parking structure on the site of our employee/merchant parking lot on 8th St. next to the fire station, or double decking the 8th St. beach lot, which would still be below the level of Ocean Av.

Joe Kalmick

District Three

Lisa Landau

Lisa Landau

As a Councilperson, I will be representing my fellow residents.   To represent our residents well, I intend to keep them informed and hold regular times to meet so we can think together and solve problems together.   After attending the City’s Strategic Planning meeting last week, I realized how much information we as citizens don’t know. How can we have meaningful dialog without correct and timely information.   I will keep my constituents in-the-know.   There is no cost to the city to meet with my neighbors, listen to them and carry their concerns to the City.

One of my top priorities is safety and homelessness.  As I talk with my neighbors, I know it is one of their top priorities as well.   Our residents voted for a 1% sales tax increase to help fund more police.   Our police need to be visible in our neighborhoods, on Main Street, and networking with our businesses if we are to stop break-ins and increase the safety of our town.  Police visibility will also help the homeless. Our Police Department has a positive track record of working with the homeless population and helping them find the services and shelter they need. I want to work with the cities around us and with the County of Orange to help reduce homelessness in Seal Beach.

I would use the BB Funds the people voted for to accomplish this goal.

Another priority is to finally clean up the ocean water at the mouth of the river.   As the mother of a former Junior Guard, I know how important that is for the health and welfare of all those who enjoy our ocean.  While costly, looking for grants and cost-sharing with Long Beach and our neighboring cities along the river, would be how I would suggest finding funding.

Balancing the budget after a deficit year doesn’t cost a thing. As an accountant, I am qualified to dig into our budget and get it balanced!  We need to identify where we can cut expenses and increase revenue so projects that need immediate attention can be funded. Resident services should be our first priority in spending.

By voting for me, Lisa Landau, the residents of District 3 will be informed, will always receive returned phone calls, and together, as neighbors, we will work for a stronger, safer Seal Beach. www.lisaforsealbeach.com

Stephanie Wade

Stephanie Wade

One of the most important changes I will make as a City Council Member is to bring greater cost controls, transparency, and scrutiny to city spending and contracting, and redouble efforts to seek and win county, state, and federal funding. There are numerous resources available to Seal Beach that our current city council is not taking advantage of, including $369 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act funds being made available to local communities. These funds are earmarked to help local coastal governments protect property from flooding due to storms and sea level rise like we experienced from Hurricane Kay in early September.

When elected, I will initiate a staff report (not pay a consultant) to get funds through the federal Inflation Reduction Act with the intent to develop a living shoreline and sea level mitigation plan. Because of my 20 years as a Surfrider Foundation volunteer and my work in federal and county government, I bring new experience in working with all levels of government and as well as private sector partners to protect our valable coastal resources.

Additionally, I will ensure Seal Beach is a safe place to live, work, and play. To address community safety issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, and drug use, I would contract with BeWell OC to do a variety of non-emergency social welfare calls that are currently handled at far greater cost by SBPD. Making this change would save money for the city and allow our police department to focus their resources on responding to emergency situations. I have valuable insight into resources and programs available to Seal Beach because of my experience both as a Policy Adviser for Orange County Board of Supervisors Katrina Foley and a former Veterans Liaison and Field Representative for OC Congressman Gil Cisneros. There is so much money out there allocated to helping small cities like ours, and there is no reason we should leave it sitting. I know what it takes to fight for our share.

Finally, I hope to make an important but revenue neutral change to city hiring policy. I will work with the other members of the council and city staff to create a veterans hiring preference like the county’s wherein any veteran who meets the minimum qualifications for a posted city job is guaranteed to be put in the interview pool.

Fred Macksoud

Frank Macksoud

If elected to the City Council I would continue the policies of the current Council.  I believe the Council has done a good job in promoting the City and has assembled a great support staff to carry out their well thought out policies.  I hope that I am elected and will provide the same level of commitment and service to the Third District and to the city as a whole.

I would ask other Council members to consider reasonable cost of living adjustments when due for our first responders (police and fire) and our other hardworking city employees in this high inflation environment.  I will also ask CalPERS for further information to ensure that the previously promised employee retirement allowances be properly funded.

I have been a proud resident of Seal Beach for almost 15 years, and I realize that we would not have the low crime rate, the safe streets and our varied shopping areas and dining establishments without the indispensable work of our city employees.  This has kept Seal Beach one of the safest, most vibrant and interesting cities in California.  A place where people like us want to live and invest and others want to visit the many amenities, we enjoy every day.

I recognize our need to restrain spending because of the economic damage the pandemic has caused over the past two and a half years and the recent upsurge of inflation.  I expect our city workers to recognize this in pay raise requests.

Problems facing our city come from unfunded State mandates, one requiring the City promote over 2,000 new affordable living units or face high daily fines and the prohibition of issuing ANY building permits.

My background in assisting the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in lobbying the Legislature will be of use in moderating this serious burden.

I am a fiscal conservative.  My proposals will have to be funded from the general fund.  We will have to limit other spending because it is essential to keep within the budget WITHOUT any tax increase.

We already have a high utility tax, high property taxes, high sales taxes and other taxes that should enable us to accomplish this if we are vigilant.

The morale of our excellent city employees is very important in maintaining what we already have: A great city that serves us well!

District Five

Mariann Klinger

Mariann Klinger

If I’m elected to represent Leisure World District 5 at the Seal Beach City Council, one of the areas I intend to champion is the improvement of communication with the community. My focus will be on addressing communication with Leisure World.

Currently, there is a serious lack of information making its way to Leisure World and most of it comes with little advanced notice. I believe the city is losing out on an enormous amount of talent and experience by not reaching out to Leisure World residents. The city needs us and we need to be an active part of all city happenings.

I will make sure that Leisure World residents know what’s going on around town in plenty of time to become involved.  I will see to it, that the residents learn about part-time jobs, volunteer posts, events and activities far enough in advance to become participants. To accomplish this I will seek funding for regular — at least twice a month — reports of city news in the LW Weekly. In addition, I will seek to have copies of the city’s recreation magazine placed at several locations in the Leisure World complex.

I am willing to work with staff to make this happen.

I estimate a cost of about $12,000 to $15,000 annually. I believe this sum can be directed to the project from the monies already designated for community outreach at recent budget meetings. City council members made the designation. noting a need for improved communication. At the time, the emphasis was on social media. While social media is an appropriate vehicle for communications, not everyone uses it regularly.

Michael McGrorty

Michael McGrorty

Seal Beach City Council Issues and Positions

1. Prevent forced rezoning of Leisure World.  The city has submitted to the state a Housing Element which proposes rezoning of our properties to add 150 additional units, primarily by replacing our shared amenities. This is the first step toward loss of control and an intrusion into the rights of a private community.  I will oppose the city’s plan to rezone our properties without our express permission via a vote of our residents.

2. Seek additional resources for transportation, access, and mobility.  Our population is in need of additional help with getting around, whether inside our walls or beyond.  We should look at additional on-request rides via a service operated by GRF itself.  If the city cannot assist us in this regard, we should consider funding such a service on our own.  The likely funding for this is via grants, our own funding, or both.

3. Perform an adequate census and analysis of our population in order to determine our actual situation and genuine needs.  We are very different than the communities outside our walls; poorer, less mobile, more handicapped, and obviously more elderly.  The U.S. census of our district provides too shallow a data base; a deeper analysis is needed in order for us to know more than the surface features.  I believe we should partner with the University of California or the California State University to study our residents, obtain information, and create a truer picture of life and living here.  With this done we can more easily apply for grant opportunities and other funding where available.  The cost for this is virtually nothing.

4. Require the city to hold at least every fourth council meeting in Leisure World.  We are more than a third of the Seal Beach population and deserve to have meetings held in our community, where residents can more easily access and address their elected officials.  There should be little or no cost for this.

5. Invite public agency representatives to our community on a regular basis in order that residents can make requests and handle affairs without having to travel long distances to do so.  These agencies should include the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, IRS, and others.  The cost for this is nothing.

Nathan Steele

Nathan Steele

My main motivation for running for City Council is to keep Seal Beach an awesome place to live.  We are surrounded by big cities with some very “Big City” problems.  I will work hard to keep those problems as far away from Seal Beach as possible.

District 5 is 100% inside the walls of Leisure World.  Leisure World offers residents many things to do.  We rely on Seal Beach mainly for Police, Fire, water and sewer connections to the city’s system.  In Seal Beach we enjoy the shops and restaurants, the parks and the beach.

Recently, I spent the day with the City Council, the City Manager, and Department heads as they had their annual Strategic Planning session.  It was a day-long workshop to go through the accomplishments and the challenges facing the city.  There are a lot of very important issues and challenges facing Seal Beach.  The level of professionalism, camaraderie and civility was impressive.

As one voice of 5 on the council, I will bring all of my professional experience, talents and abilities to the table. I will support the Council’s identified goals and priorities.  I will spend time getting to know the concerns of not just my constituents, but the concerns of the entire city.

Jonathan Rich

Jonathan Rich

These are challenging times and there has never been more opportunity to make a difference at the local political level. In just the past few months we have faced water restrictions, threats of blackouts, record-breaking temperatures, and the worst drought in 1200 years.  I am running for City Council because I sincerely believe that we can create a better future. I also believe in responsible government – much can be done without further burdening the taxpayer. Some initiatives can be accomplished through governmental coordination. Some can be accomplished by taking advantage of already funded grants and programs. Some are revenue-neutral, returning at least a dollar for every dollar invested.

Wise decisions that we make now can make differences for our children and grandchildren. Green, renewable energy and other environmentally sound decisions will become increasingly important as we move forward. The benefits include reduced dependence on foreign oil, reduced detrimental impact on the environment, eliminating oil spills, reduced air and water pollution, and energy that is sustainable and eventually cheaper. Conservative use of resources can avert crises, but proactive government is needed to achieve long-term, sustainable solutions.

Possibilities for green projects include:

• Following the lead of Buena Park, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, and Irvine, contracting with the Orange County Power Authority for power from renewable sources.

• Supplying city buildings with solar power – after an initial investment, the city could realize long-term savings while benefitting the environment.

• Exploring an electric shuttle service, like what is being implemented in Long Beach. This would stimulate the local economy and could be funded through parking meter revenue or, like Long Beach, from federal grants.

• Encouraging water conservation measures, such as laundry-to-landscape systems and replacement of grass with artificial turf and succulents. Agencies such as the California Department of Water Resources already provide grants for such projects. The role of the City would be to explore possibilities, disseminate information, work with vendors, and streamline the process of installing systems.

I am excited about the possibility of being your councilmember – it is a role with great creative potential. With your help and support, the work can positively transform the future of our city and of our Leisure World community.

Next week’s question: Would you consider changing the city management? Candidates have until 5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, to reply. Word limit: 400 words. Email editor@sunnews.org.