Brash with a backbone
Profile: Candidate Rebecca Chambliss is brash, brazen, and fiscally conservative. Lesser known than four others in the race to fill Janice Hahn's seat in CD 15 in San Pedro--the candidate, a self-made businesswoman who also has a sturdy pedigree in animal rescue--nonetheless likes her own chances.
Rebecca Chambliss, candidate for Council in CD 15, is already seated at Hennessey's Tavern in Redondo Beach. She's wearing a coral dress and a taut smile. She orders an iced tea; that's it for her for lunch.
There are no less than twenty hopefuls, including four largish names in the Council race for Janice Hahn's open seat. Two--Pat McOsker and Warren Furutani--will have lots of money and are backed by powerful interest groups. Two more--Rudy Svorinich and Robert Farrell--will have lots of fun running on their preceding records as Councilmen who have served LA before.
But if one candidate breaks out from the pack of longshots to threaten a runoff, it figures to be Chambliss. Poised, direct, blonde, and seemingly unflappable, she issues tough shots at everyone. Funny, too: she recently facebooked her friends this message: "I'm beginning to realize why so many politicians look so awful."
But she's also blunt. She's quick to remind me that Furutani has never had a private sector job. She worries about McOsker's record on public safety--firefighter brown outs occurred under his watch that she feels put the public at risk. "He's union all the way. [Public] unions often protect bad employees," she tells me.
Janice Hahn? Dislike.
"I'm not a fan of hers. I don't see many problems that she solved. She ran for six different political offices while at the City."
But what about those parks she opened, at least?
"Janice opened a couple of unusable parks. Nobody uses them. Ask anyone in the neighborhoods."
And don't get her started on Rudy Svorinich.
"Rudy's history is in black and white. Anybody with a brain can see what he did and didn't do for the district," she says. She's very concerned about Svorinich's ties to the Ponte Vista, the huge planned development presently in the EIR stage.
A longstanding animal and animal rescue activist, I ask her if she followed the recent Council debate on awarding the Animal Reg site in District 7, Richard Alarcón's district, to Best Friends, which Alarcon opposed. She has.
"He (Alarcón) is clearly not up-to-speed on public-private partnerships," Chambliss tells me. "I'm a big proponent of them."
Chambliss grew up in the District she hopes to represent. She moved away, but not far--Mar Vista--and then moved back over twelve years ago. She tells me she's self-propelled--"I started a business from nothing," she says. A realtor by profession, she also maintains top-tier connections to LA's animal rights community, especially as a rescuer of Tibetan Mastiffs.
So how's Brenda Barnette, the City's new Animal Services general manager, doing after a year?
"Barnette's facing a giant mess," she says. "She's doing OK."
Should we have gone as far as Seattle--after going as far as New York--to grab a general manager for this department, when LA is on the cutting edge of animal rights?
"I don't agree with you that LA is one of the most progressive cities for animal welfare," she tells me. "Many cities have no-kill policies in place. Many places do it better."
I wonder aloud how she thinks she can overtake four people with better name recognition in the race. She tells me the story of Jerry Felando, who unseated Vincent Thomas in the San Pedro Assembly district after Thomas had represented a San Pedro Asssembly district for 38 years.
"I mean, here's a guy with the bridge in town, named after him," she says. "and Felando walks the district and wins. I've spoken to him about it. He tells me to keep connecting to people," she says.
She uses social media more effectively than all other candidates in the race. She recently provoked her friends with a wall post about how voters in the district were not only angry but generally against the "greening" efforts of the City in the harbor. "They feel it's cost us jobs and cost us money and refuse to vote for a 'green' candidate. Thoughts?" she wrote, careful to keep the voters' opinions and not her own at the forefront of the dialogue. Yet there's no mistaking her conservative streak. "Fiscally, I'm very conservative," she owns.
"People want someone with a backbone," Chambliss tells me at last, ordering herself an iced tea refill. No question, she has one of those.