Race for the LA County Board of Supervisors to represent the Valley and Westside is heating up

Overshadowed by the race for mayor of Los Angeles, Bob Hertzberg and Lindsey Horvath are battling for a seat on the powerful County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, upping the rhetoric by criticizing each other’s experience levels and differences.

Horvath, 40, a West Hollywood city council member, and Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Hertzberg, 67, survived the June primary in a close race and now face off in the Nov. 8 election. The two Democrats have accentuated their views on the county sheriff, county jails, homelessness, the environment and the proposed Sepulveda Pass transit project.

The two inhabit very different resumes.

Hertzberg served 14 years in the legislature from 1996-2002, and became Speaker of the California State Assembly, then returned to private life and launched clean energy companies, including Wales-based G24i, which manufactured thin-film solar as an alternative to batteries. He chaired the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation in 2004 and again in 2011. In 2014, he was elected to the state senate from the San Fernando Valley and served as California’s Senate Majority Leader from 2018 to early 2022.

Horvath served on the West Hollywood city council from 2009-2011, then returned in 2015, served as mayor and is now a city council member. She’s past president of the California Contract Cities Association, an organization of 75 smaller cities in California which lobbies in Sacramento for “legislation that provides flexibility for cities to exercise local control to best address the needs of their communities,” according to its website.

Both candidates claim that their opponent is a poor fit for a seat on the L.A. Board of Supervisors.

Hertzberg plays down Horvath’s role in reducing homelessness in West Hollywood by 80%, noting that the city only had 38 unhoused people and that she’s overplaying her hand, especially when the county has 69,144 unhoused people.

“It is completely misleading,” Hertzberg said of Horvath’s track record, in an interview on Friday, Sept. 30. “It creates the false impression about someone’s skill set and success rate.”

Horvath responded by citing her efforts to add security ambassadors and an extra sheriff deputy to cut street crime. “We are learning how to solve problems in our laboratory of West Hollywood,” she said. “Now it is time to bring that to regional scale.”

She takes shots at Hertzberg, who as senate majority leader in Sacramento was tasked with working with Democrats, who control both houses in Sacramento by a large majority, with a dwindling minority of Republican legislators. She claims that his Sacramento approach was “throwing money at problems” and says “the only thing my opponent has been in charge of is other politicians.”

In an interview on Sept. 30, Horvath said, “One candidate is offering the path forward — this is positive and creating change. … My opponent wants to take us backward with failed policies.”

Hertzberg responded, noting that while he’s been negotiating bills on crime victim rights and water conservation with dozens of diverse legislators from Southern California and across the state, she held a part-time position on a city council in a small, 1.9-square mile city. “It is ceremonial leadership,” Hertzberg said. “It is not in the trenches. The city manager makes the decisions” in West Hollywood.

Environmental issues

Recently, Horvath began citing media reports that Hertzberg took $250,000 in contributions from the fossil fuel industry during his career. He voted against a AB 345 in 2020, that would have established buffer zones between oil wells and schools and homes. This year, Hertzberg voted for SB 1137, which establishes oil well buffer zones and was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Hertzberg has said that during his entrepreneurial days he established clean energy companies, including the formation of a solar energy company in South L.A. “I worked with investment bankers,” he said. During his time in the senate, he authored legislation that gave funding to Valley schools for green improvements.

Homelessness and housing

Hertzberg wants to start a pilot project that would bind the cities of Los Angeles County into homeless services and temporary and permanent housing programs, he said at a recent debate in Westwood. “I’d do it through a state-mandated deliverable, to make sure politicians are on board — and held accountable.”

He would also ask Los Angeles County to declare homelessness a public health emergency, he said in an interview. He’s also in favor of more tiny homes, such as the ones established by Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in North Hollywood.

Horvath wants to reform the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). She, too, would bring the Board of Supervisors, city leaders and service providers together to work on solutions. “People who are in office are directly responsible. I am ready to step up and take that responsibility,” she said in an interview.

In West Hollywood, the city added a Section 8 housing representative to a homeless outreach team to answer questions for those qualified for the federal, low-rent housing voucher. “He (Hertzberg) has never had to deliver to people on this level,” she said.

Sheriff and public safety

The two candidates’ approaches in dealing with embattled Sheriff Alex Villanueva differ.

Horvath supports Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, saying in an oped co-written with the president of People for the American Way, that the Sheriff’s Department committed “unjustifiable violence against civilians, resistance to accountability, and intimidation of critics and retaliations against political opponents.”

“I am sick of seeing horrible headlines on abuse of power that has happened under his watch. He has to go,” she said in an interview.

She noted that the sheriff has been in a war with the Board of Supervisors for several years. “He is not taking responsibility and pointing fingers at the Board of Supervisors is absolutely absurd,” she said.

Hertzberg said he voted for Jim McDonnell in 2018, who lost to Villanueva. He said he doesn’t like a lot of what the sheriff has been doing but he would work with whoever gets elected. “In my job, leadership means having a vision of what to do and knowing how to bring all sides together,” he said.

Hertzberg criticized the search warrant outlining the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigation into possible political corruption against LA Metro, Kuehl, Patricia Giggans and Giggans’ nonprofit group Peace Over Violence, saying it “was pretty thin.” Horvath said the sheriff should keep county residents safe instead of launching investigations of those who criticize him. “He is using the department to further his political endeavors,” she said.

Sepulveda Pass transit project

Both candidates criticized LA Metro’s handling of public meetings about the proposed Sepulveda Pass transit project that would use either a monorail or some mixture of at-grade trains and subways to connect the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.

The two candidates said the public needs more information on cost and routes, and that meetings have been formulaic and unhelpful. “They (Westside and Valley residents) haven’t gotten answer from Metro that they are looking for,” Horvath said during a recent Westside debate forum.

Hertzberg said he did not support building subway tunnels under Bel Air, but he supports a station at UCLA. He criticized LA Metro for keeping an underground subway as an option even if that will cost upwards of $28 billion, when the agency’s budget for the project falls far short of that figure.

At a glance

Endorsements: Hertzberg was endorsed by West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister, L.A. County Federation of Labor, California Nurses Association, SEIU Local 99, Senator Alex Padilla, Congressmen Tony Cardenas and Brad Sherman, Association for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs, state Attorney General Rob Bonta, CHIRLA, and Valley Industry & Commerce Assn.

Horvath was endorsed by four of the five supervisors including Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the Sierra Club — Los Angeles Chapter, Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood.

District: Spans 431 square miles from West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to Santa Monica and Malibu, to the San Fernando Valley. Population = 1.2 million.

Candidates: Bob Hertzberg, 67, state senator; Lindsey Horvath, 40, West Hollywood City Council member. In June primary, Hertzberg got 105,923 votes (31%) while Horvath got 94,528 votes (28%).

Campaign Cash: Hertzberg spent $1.4 million on his campaign, county records show. As of Sept. 24, he has a cash balance of $415,223. Horvath spent $919,889 on her campaign, county records show. As of Sept. 24, she has a cash balance of $111,501.

Key Issues: Law enforcement, jails, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, homelessness, affordable housing, public health, LA Metro, transportation, safe streets, open space, environment.

One thing to know: Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is not running, making this an open seat. Voters will be electing a new supervisor to sit on the five-member board.

Related links

Elections 2022: One calm race, and one spicy race, in First and Third LA County supervisorial districts
LA County District 3 supervisorial candidates Hertzberg and Horvath divide over governing styles
Election 2022: Who will replace Sheila Kuehl on LA County Board of Supervisors?
Public says: 93% favor rail tunnels, not an overhead monorail, for mega Sepulveda Pass project
LA supervisors order draft of a ballot measure that would let them remove Sheriff Villanueva

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