Voters throughout Rancho Palos Verdes sent a strong message to the three out-going city council members, including Mayor Tom Long, on Tuesday night when they elected conservative Republicans Susan Brooks and Jerry Duhovic by a wide margin to replace them on the city council. Brooks, a returning council member and former mayor, finished first with 20.4% of the overall vote, and first-time candidate Jerry Duhovic, Vice-Chair of the RPV Finance Advisory Committee, finished a strong second with 17.6%.
Early in the evening, the battle for the third and final open seat was close between four candidates; RPV Planning Commissioner Jim Knight was able to hold off the other three to secure the final spot with 14.2%.
The temperature of this race was elevated by recurring messages to supporters by outgoing Mayor Tom Long, who saw fit to go beyond simply endorsing three candidates and discussing visions for the future of the city. In what many perceived as an extremely defensive and negative tone, Long’s messages repeatedly attacked the other candidates, especially Brooks and Duhovic, based on their support by local watchdog group PVP Watch, stating the electing them would “leave the city with higher expenses, poorer employee relations, and a union, while at the same time decreasing the city's revenues leaving the city less able to keep streets, storm drains, sewers and other infrastructure vital to our property values in good working order.” Voters in Rancho Palos Verdes rejected this assertion, as evidenced by the 1-2 finish of Brooks and Duhovic.
The overwhelming election of Brooks and Duhovic sent the current city council and city staff a strong message that such divisive campaigning and lack of local government accountability exhibited by Long during his tenure were no longer tolerable. Long and his colleagues had earned a reputation of talking down to city residents during council public comment sessions, as well as governing in a “we know better” fashion that spurred many to ask former RPV Mayor Susan Brooks to run again for the city council.
By joining current Republican RPV City Councilmembers Brian Campbell and Anthony Misetich, also elected in 2009 over a Long-endorsed slate, newly elected members Susan Brooks and Jerry Duhovic represent a shift of perception and direction for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes since it re-elected its incumbent city council members, including Long, in 2007.
Since 2007, the current city council has engaged in legal battles with its 2nd highest employer, the Trump National Golf Course, and Mayor Long was actually quoted as saying “Trump is the enemy”. The newly elected members, Brooks, Duhovic and Knight, will all bring significant improvement to this anti-business mentality and ensure the city’s relations with both Trump and the newest and largest employer in the city, the Terrenea Resort, continue to bring both revenues and community benefits to the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes.