Candidates push for airport regulations
EL SEGUNDO: Seven hopefuls for council seats state their platforms.
By Andrea Woodhouse, Staff Writer
For such a small town, El Segundo's election this week appears focused on one big issue: noisy neighbor Los Angeles International Airport.
All seven candidates - including two incumbents - vying Tuesday for three City Council seats have emphasized the importance of continuing efforts to minimize disturbances from the travel hub.
Here's what the candidates have to say:
Don Brann, 62, superintendent of the Wiseburn School District, wants to step up monitoring of airplanes that make early turns over the city.
If elected, the 34-year resident would work to shift plane takeoffs on the southernmost runway to the inner lane, he said.
"It's the early turns and the warming up of airplanes from the south runway that create a lot of noise in El Segundo," said Brann, who has amassed about $9,600 for his first council bid.
Brann believes his 15 years spent leading Wiseburn schools has helped him build relationships with El Segundo's big businesses.
Set to retire this spring, he hopes to parlay that experience into attracting unique businesses to the city's quaint downtown commercial core, which Brann thought was too heavy on restaurants and service businesses.
Brann also wants to bring a senior assisted-living complex to town and focus efforts to revamp the city's aquatics offerings.
David Burns, 45, has called for El Segundo to continue pushing the city of Los Angeles to muffle airport noise.
"There needs to be a push back that's going to benefit the city," the nine-year resident said. "If we irritate the city of Los Angeles, I say, `Oh, well. That's what we have to do."'
The city's former emergency services coordinator who now holds a similar role for UCLA, Burns has focused much of his first council bid on improving the city's disaster preparedness.
Burns, who has collected about $5,700 for his campaign, decided to run for office after feeling current leaders weren't listening to residents' concerns.
In that vein, Burns said he would improve resident outreach through regular informal meetings and an informational Web page.
He's also vowed to donate to charity a portion of the $900 monthly salary he'd earn as a councilman.
Eric Busch, 39, an incumbent seeking his second term, has proposed several ways of silencing airport noise.
He'd like to get freight planes to take off from inside runways, push for LAX's northern runway complex to have a center taxiway, and use media advertisements to pursue companies whose airplanes make early turns over El Segundo.
"If a company is getting an ad that points out they're flying over our community dangerously and choosing to do an early turn, then our city would recommend customers use somebody else," said Busch, a 15-year resident.
In his four years on council, Busch is most proud of his work to retain the Los Angeles Air Force Base, broker a settlement agreement over LAX expansion, and develop the city's new soccer fields, he said.
If re-elected, the environmental engineer wants to maintain El Segundo's business-friendly reputation, and attract new big businesses to the 16,000-resident city.
The married father of four would push to complete construction of a new fire station on time and under budget, and continue efforts to build bathrooms on the city's tiny beach.
With a campaign war chest of about $14,700, Busch has by far out-earned his competition this election season.
John Dragone, 47, has called for a tougher regional approach to silencing airport noise.
The 11-year resident, who serves on the city's LAX advisory committee, would push South Bay cities to unite in an effort to get cargo planes to use LAX sister airports in Palmdale and Ontario.
"From a logistics standpoint, it's a viable solution," the married father of three said. "That will reduce the noise pollution and the quality-of-life issue."
A former board member of the Centinela Valley Union School District, Dragone would draw from his business acumen developed as co-owner of an international transportation business to ensure fiscal responsibility in town.
Dragone, the nephew of Hawthorne Mayor Larry Guidi, would also like to bring new businesses to the city's downtown core.
Though he supports improvements to the city's aquatics facilities, Dragone said the city should find ways to pay for any projects that don't come at taxpayers' expense.
Dragone has collected about $10,500 for his campaign efforts.
Philip Georgious, 47, a member of the cable advisory commission, wants the city to focus on curbing planes that make early turns.
The 12-year resident would like the city to develop a closer partnership with the school district, and would like to find a way to help renovate the aging high school.
Georgious, whose wife works in the city's accounting department, is also concerned about traffic and the development in El Segundo's downtown commercial core.
As a freelance videographer, Georgious believes his flexible schedule would make him more available at City Hall, and his business skills would help ensure a smoothly run city. Georgious has collected less than $1,000 for his campaign and is not required to report it.
"I feel I have the time, and I've also been in business on my own to have a sense of how it could be run as best as it can be run as if a person is running it as a profitable business," he said.
Carl Jacobson, an incumbent seeking his fifth non-consecutive term, believes heavy cargo planes were among the biggest sources of airport disturbances for residents.
The 60-year-old would like to use connections and relationships cultivated through his experience on the City Council as well as serving on several LAX-related commissions to get the aircraft moved to inner runways, he said.
"We have to get the freighters off the out-board runway," the 38-year resident said. "They are the loudest aircraft and the heaviest."
If re-elected, Jacobson, who works as an information technology professional, would like to start budgeting money to improve the city's residential roads, as well as its water, sewer and storm drains, which all need rehabilitating, he said.
Married with two children, Jacobson supports improvements to the city's aquatics facilities but is adamant against floating a bond measure to pay for it.
Jacobson, who has collected about $2,200 for his campaign, counts his roles in securing the LAX expansion settlement agreement and completion of the Douglas Street gap closure project among his proudest accomplishments in his last term.
Cindee Topar, 50, has suggested the city approach LAX about imposing a flight curfew and stop noisy nighttime plane maintenance.
A member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Topar would also push for other airports operated by Los Angeles World Airports to handle more cargo planes.
"Instead of us taking the brunt of it, it needs to be divided up more," the 24-year resident said.
If elected, Topar would utilize her listening and people skills developed through her career as a flight attendant to work with residents and other elected officials, she said.
Topar would also like to replace the Fire Department's aging truck, and ensure that environmental protection is a priority for El Segundo.
She has amassed about $3,500 for her campaign.
City Treasurer Ralph Lanphere is running unopposed Tuesday for his third term.