So how big a deal is it being a Los Angeles County Supervisor? It is a pretty big deal. I recall when I worked for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee during the 1980s and we held a hearing on intergovernmental transfers from the Federal government to state governments, back during a time when there was still a General Revenue Sharing program which resulted in formula-driven grants directly to state governments from the Federal treasury.
At the time I worked for Senator James Sasser, a Democrat from Tennessee, and as part of the witness list we extended an invitation to the Chief Administrative Officer for Los Angeles County, Richard B. Dixon. When he testified my boss turned to me with a look of amazement when he learned of the enormity of the county's budget. It was an eye-opener to say the least.
I remember telling him there was actually good reason why folks would relinquish their Congressional seats to run for the Supervisor's job. And indeed that has happened on numerous occasions. I was a senior advisor to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell from 2003-2011, a state with a population of 12.6 million and annual budgets in the range of $28 billion.
Yet, Los Angeles County is a political entity where in excess of 10 million people reside, ranking it above 43 states, with a budget of $26 billion, larger than over half the states in the union. So yes it really is a big deal. And the geographical diversity of Los Angeles County stretches from Watts to Topanga Canyon, the San Fernando Valley to Santa Catalina Island, covering over 4,000 square miles and including 88 municipalities.
On Tuesday Westsiders will be asked to choose between two very capable Democratic candidates, reflecting the uniqueness of a top-two vote getter runoff not so affectionately known as the jungle primary. While the issues run the gamut from transportation to health care and literally everything in between, environmental issues also play a key role in the race. For those still undecided I wanted to share a testimonial I recently read from former Congressman Tony Beilenson, who represented the Westside in Congress for twenty years (1977-1997) and played a significant role in preserving and protecting the Santa Monica Mountains.
For those who value the ecological gems at our disposal, such as me, it is extremely important that we entrust an environmental legacy to elected officials that will preserve and protect our public lands. This is just another reason to support Sheila Kuehl on Tuesday. The text of the endorsement follows:
I jumped at the opportunity to endorse Sheila Kuehl to be the next County Supervisor. As Henry Waxman recently said, she is a "powerful and effective advocate for the things I care about."
Today, I feel a sense of urgency to talk about what it means to be a friend of the Santa Monica Mountains.
In 1978, as a congressman, I authored the legislation that created the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, (SMMNRA), 155,000 acres, visited by millions of Angelenos and people from around the country, and the world.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area,) the largest urban public park in the world, had no greater friend and advocate in Sacramento than Sheila Kuehl.
For fourteen years Sheila Kuehl passed legislation, identified resources, protected the park's environment, partner at the federal, state and local county level, and joined the effort to fill in the mosaic of what has become one of the richest contiguous national park systems in the world that sits inside of and is surrounded by a vast metropolis.
Sheila Kuehl was instrumental in the public private partnership, the team effort required to successfully save critical land and bring it into the public domain as permanent open space.
During her tenure, Sheila identified over $80 million dollars for key acquisitions in the SMMNRA, including Liberty Canyon, a significant wildlife linkage; the former Ahmanson Ranch purchased with state bond monies to protect watersheds and improve water quality; Lower Topanga State Park, 1,800 acres, now part of the California's largest State Park; Soka campus, now King Gillette Ranch, and permanent public open space; significant wildlife corridors and connectors along the Backbone Trail.
Sheila's genius as a partner in protecting the SMMNRA, to preserve and protect the rare, biologically rich and diverse areas so critical to the survvial of the entire ecology of the Santa Monica Mountains, is the kind of experience only someone who has done what she has done can bring to the Third District as their Supervisor. She knows the ropes.
Her broad support, her intuition, her intelligence her integrity and her strength was unparalleled in Sacramento. Her legacy is apparent today, as those who have followed her, like Senator Fran Pavley, have continued to embrace the importance of federal, state, and local county partnerships to protect the Santa Monica Mountains.
Now, Los Angeles County again has the opportunity to be the beneficiary of Sheila's extraordinary talent. Millions of Angelenos and visitors from all parts of Southern California and the world enjoy the natural beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Thanks to the efforts of Sheila Kuehl the Santa Monica Mountains still remain the "people's mountains".
Sheila Kuehl is our friend, and a proven friend of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Fmr. Congressman Tony Beilenson