Torrance City Council Election 2016

Torrance will elect new leaders on June 7th, 2016. Who do you think should lead Torrance? Take the poll and let us know who you are voting for.  Also, feel free to try and sway others to your preferred candidates by telling us why you are casting your votes in the comments.

Dr. Genghmun Eng

Dr. Genghmun Eng

Candidate Dr. Genghmun Eng

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Education:

  • BS, Physics, Cooper Union
  • PhD, Physics, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

Biography: Dr. Eng is currently employed as a Rocket Scientist with the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo. With his wife Sophie they have raised two children and been Homeowners in Torrance for the past 35 years.  As a child he worked in his parents Chinese Laundry while being raised in New York City.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Lead citizens’ group to prevent 75 oil wells in Bishop Montgomery Sump. Result: Project withdrawn.
  • Opposed replacing Jefferson Middle School with a Criminal Rehabilitation Center. Results: Center relocated. Jefferson Middle School reopened.
  • Challenged EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) permit allowing Dow Chemical to burn heavy metal contaminated solvents in Torrance, potentially releasing Dioxin (Agent Orange poison). Result: Project canceled.

Organizational Endorsements: Torrance Democratic Club

Major Donors: Dr. Eng is running a primarily self financed campaign with only two listed donors on his latest financial report.

Campaign Warchest: $6,054.02.

Campaign Notes: Dr. Eng is a self described “outsider” candidate as he has not followed the traditional path to the Council by serving on a City Commission. Last year’s explosion at Exxon propelled him into the race and he has largely campaigned on the issue of refinery safety.  He claims the City has been misled by oil industry insiders and that the Council needs a scientist to help them navigate complicated issues like the use of hydroflouric acid. He submitted a Citizen’s Petition to the AQMD prior to their recent decision on the re-start of the refinery and was one of the few residents that stayed the entire meeting in order to advocate on behalf of the community.  He wants to establish a Refinery Commission and has supported using public nuisance laws to compel Exxon to operate more safely. His focus on refinery safety has won him grassroots support from members of organizations like the Torrance Refinery Alliance and South Bay Flare, but with little money and virtually no formal organizational support the big question mark for Dr. Eng is whether that grassroots support will translate into enough votes on election day.

Asam Sheikh

Asam Sheikh

Candidate Asam Sheikh

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Education:

  • MBA, Punjab College, Lahore,
  • 2nd MBA, California State University Dominguez Hills

Biography: Sheikh currently holds a position as a Senior Financial Analyst with Honda Motor Company.  He was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to Torrance in 2009.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Civil Service Commission and Library Commission
  • School Site Council at Casimir Middle School

Organizational Endorsements: Torrance Democratic Club, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 1117

Individual Endorsements:

  • City Councilmember Weideman

Major Donors: Asam Sheikh is also primarily running a self financed campaign with few donors outside of friends and family listed on his latest financial report.

Campaign Warchest: $14,855

Campaign Notes: Shiekh’s campaign is remarkable for its unremarkableness. The soft spoken Sheikh has shied away from taking controversial or even definable positions on most issues largely deflecting questions asked of him by repeating non-substantive talking points. The large number of campaign signs with his name on them seen throughout the community does reflect a substantial amount of support, but it is uncertain whether that support will translate into the amount of votes needed to win on election day. His latest financial report shows a $1,000 payment to RFC Communications, which is rumored to be the latest incarnation of Patrick Furey, Jr.’s embattled political consulting firm.

Milton Herring

Milton Herring

Candidate Milton Herring

Party Affiliation: Republican

Education:

  • BA, Morehouse College
  • Masters of Divinity, Interdenominational Theological Center
  • Doctorate of Ministry, Southern California School of Ministry

Biography: Herring retired in 2011 after a 27 year career with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Chaplain. Herrring was also a commissioned officer and Chaplain in the United States Army Reserves and served two active duty tours in the Middle East (Kuwait and Iraq).  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2009.  He has also served as a community pastor and organizer.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Planning Commission and Traffic Commission
  • President-Elect of the Torrance Kiwanis Club
  • Board Member on the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation and a member of the Community Advisory Panel for ExxonMobil.

Organizational Endorsements: Torrance Police Officers and Firefighter’s Association, United Small Business Alliance (USBA), Beach Cities Republican’s Club, and the Daily Breeze.

Individual Endorsements:

  • Former mayors Frank Scotto, Dee Hardison, and Ken Miller
  • Councilmembers Gene Barnett, Geoff Rizzo, Kurt Weideman, and Heidi Ashcraft
  • School Board Members Don Lee and Michael Wermers
  • Many former Councilmembers and nearly 30 Commissioners

Major Donors:

  • Unions: Torrance Police and Fire Associations
  • Developers and Business Representatives: Rolling Hills Business Center, PV Developers, Tormed Bldg’s, South Bay Hyundai, Robinson Helicopter, Lee’s Sandwiches, VanLingen Towing

Campaign Warchest: $43,056.41

Campaign Notes: Herring is looking to build on his 7th place finish in the 2014 election by maintaining support from republicans and adding endorsements from the influential police and firefighter’s unions. Herring’s supporters extoll his strong ethics, military service, and conservative ideals. Despite his strong support among conservatives, however, many of his positions on the issues are akin to those typically heard from liberal politicians as he often calls for increasing the size and intrusiveness of Government. For example, as a top priority he listed creating government sponsored economic empowerment zones.  He also wants to increase the size of the of the Economic Development Department and create a position to act an independent safety monitor of the refinery.  In addition, he has taken a liberal approach when it comes to employee pensions by taking a stance that recent changes have gotten us where we need to be.  Furthermore, he supports the City creating a historic preservation program and as part of the Planning Commission he voted to establish a controversial southern tarplant preserve near the proposed transit center that is projected to cost taxpayers $500K a year.

Geoff Rizzo

Geoff Rizzo

Incumbent Geoff Rizzo

Party Affiliation: Republican

Education:

  • AA, Administration of Justice, El Camino College;
  • BS and MA in Public Administration, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Biography: Retired Police Lieutenant after 30 years of service. Currently holds a position as adjunct professor at his alma mater, El Camino College, where he teaches courses in homeland security.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Planning Commission
  • Youth Sports Coach and Scout Leader

Organizational Endorsements: Torrance Police Officers and Firefighter’s Association, United Small Business Alliance (USBA), Beach Cities Republican’s Club, and the Daily Breeze

Individual Endorsements:

  • Mayors Patrick J. Furey, Ken Miller, Dee Hardison, and Frank Scotto
  • Councilmembers Weideman and Griffiths
  • Several former Councilmembers and City Commissioners
  • School Board Members Don Lee, Terry Ragins, and Michael Wermers

Major Donors:

  • Unions: Torrance Police and Firefighter Associations
  • Developers and Business Representatives: Surf Management, Lynn Lord Real Estate, Towne & Country Investors, Torrance Towne Center Associates, LDC Skypark, Coretrust Capital, VanLingen Towing, Robinson Helicopter, Barden Electric, Sage Goddesses, Law Office of William Beverly
  • Political Interests: Campaign Committee’s for Don Lee and Tim Goodrich, Patrick J. Furey, LIEU Leadership PAC

Campaign Warchest: $49,564.81

Campaign Notes: Rizzo’s support stems from a broader political spectrum than any other candidate. He has garnered endorsements from both republican groups and left-leaning politicians like colleagues Mayor Furey and Tim Goodrich.  He has even received donations from the LIEU leadership PAC. Rizzo’s roots in Torrance go deep as he still lives in the same home where he was born. His praiseworthy career, spanning over three decades, with the Torrance Police Department also commands respect. One might wonder, however, if that career also created entanglements making it a challenge for Rizzo to bring an independent voice to critical matters such as collective bargaining with employee unions. This is especially the case when you consider he draws a $173K a year pension from the City.

In perhaps the most controversial vote during his tenure on the Council, he sided with the Mayor and approved awarding the emergency services contract to McCormick.  At the time he criticized Gerber for their failure to meet contractual requirements. He would later show leniency toward McCormick for failing to meet the same requirements. On another controversial matter, he recently called for the Council to discuss sending the mayor’s son a request for resignation due to a recent scandal.  Rizzo stopped short, however, of voting to request the City solicit RFP’s for the McCormick contract.  Interestingly, Rizzo’s campaign disclosures show a donation from Mayor Furey on 17 March 2016 just days before Rizzo would take action at the Council meeting that ultimately led to the resignation of the Mayor’s son.

Mike Griffiths

Mike Griffiths

Appointed Incumbent Mike Griffiths

Party Affiliation: Republican

Biography: Griffiths has lived in Torrance for over 33 years and is the father of two sons who both attended Torrance Public Schools and graduated from South High.  He started a computer systems and networking business in Torrance which he sold in 2000.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Planning Commission and Energy Conservation Commission
  • Served for 19 years on the Torrance South-Bay YMCA Board
  • Serves on Board for Torrance Salvation Army

Organizational Endorsements: United Small Business Alliance (USBA), Beach Cities Republican’s Club, and the Daily Breeze

Individual Endorsements:

  • Former Mayors Ken Miller, Dee Hardison, and Frank Scotto
  • Councilmembers Ashcraft, Barnett, Rizzo, and Goodrich
  • 13 Former Councilmembers and nearly 50 City Commissioners
  • The entire School Board
  • LA County Supervisor Don Knabe and US Congressman Ted Lieu

Major Donors:

  • Developers and Business Representatives: The Picerne Group, Towne & Country Investors, Surf Management, Torrance Towne Center Associates, Gateway Business Properties, Tormed Bldg’s, Yellow Cab, VanLingen Towing, Phenomenex, Robinson Helicopter, Fred’s Carpet, BQE Software
  • Political Interests: LIEU Leadership PAC, Don Lee Campaign, Biz Fed PAC

Campaign Warchest: $48,485.00

Campaign Notes: Griffiths was perhaps one of the surprises from the 2014 election as his 8th place finish was lower than many expected.  He was, however, able to win an appointment to the Council after his colleagues chose him over 3 higher finishing candidates (including current candidates Dagastino and Herring). He ran as a Decline to State candidate in that 2014 election, but did join the Republican party late last year in a move which has helped him garner more republican support.

He boasts a lengthy list of endorsements from the Torrance political establishment with the notable exception of Mayor Furey.  Griffiths is rumored to have fallen out of favor with the Mayor after he chose not to vote for awarding the emergency services contract to McCormick. Perhaps due to the Mayor’s influence, he also lost support from one of the Mayor’s political allies, the Torrance Police Officers Association (TPOA).  Griffith’s was endorsed by the TPOA in the last election.

With regard to union concerns, Griffiths has taken a stronger stance on pensions than he did in the last election.  At one forum, he called the issue a huge concern claiming that costs for pensions are eating a larger and larger portion of the city budget.  At another forum, he decried the union’s involvement in local politics expressing his concern that it created a dangerous conflict of interest.

Leilani Kimmel-Dagastino

Leilani Kimmel-Dagastino

Candidate Leilani Kimmel-Dagastino

Party Affiliation: Republican

Education: MBA, Pepperdine University

Biography: Dagastino worked for 40 years in the airline industry and is currently a registered financial consultant and small business owner.  She moved to Torrance 18 years ago.

Past Community Involvement:

  • Torrance Commission on Aging
  • Torrance Strategic Plan Committee for Transit
  • Graduate of Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Torrance Program
  • ExxonMobil Citizens Advisory Panel

Organizational Endorsements: Torrance Police and Firefighters Association, Torrance Municipal Employees (AFSCME Local 1117), National Women’s Political Caucus South Bay, Laborers’ International Union of North American (LIUNA) Local 1309, Iron workers Local 433, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11

Individual Endorsements:

  • Mayor Patrick Furey
  • State Senator Ben Allen
  • Councilmember Tim Goodrich and School Board Member Terry Ragins
  • Nearly 20 City Commissioners

Major Donors: 

  • Unions: Torrance Police and Firefighters Association, Torrance Municipal Employees (AFSCME Local 1117), District Council of Iron Workers
  • Developers and Business Representatives: Shopoff Realty, TCA Architects, VanLingen Towing, the Picerne Group
  • Poltical Interests: Biz Fed PAC

Campaign Warchest: $61,540.08

Campaign Notes: Support from local republican groups helped propel Dagastino to a 5th place finish in the 2014 election. As the next highest vote-getter many also thought she deserved the Council appointment that ultimately went to Mike Griffiths. Since that time, Dagastino has shown praiseworthy determination in pursuit of a Council seat and has become a well known figure in the City due to her presence at many City events and positive advocacy on behalf of the City.

The landscape for Dagastino, however, has changed drastically since 2014.  Despite being a Republican, she has garnered the support of Mayor Furey and many other local prominent democrats. She is also more heavily backed by the unions than any other candidate.  Her support among republicans, however, has waned significantly.

A cloud of scandal that recently engulfed the Furey’s has also hung over Dagastino’s campaign. Shortly after the 2014 campaign, she enlisted Patrick Furey, Jr. to work as her campaign manager.  Since the scandal erupted, she has tried to distance herself from Furey, Jr. by saying that she is her own Campaign Manager. Her campaign disclosures list prior payments to Furey, Jr’s firm Liberty Campaign Solutions and more recent payments to another firm, RFC Communications, which also seems to be associated with Furey, Jr. due to it appearing to share a phone number, address, and client list with Liberty Campaign Solutions. Financial disclosures show that her campaign paid $1,713.54 to Liberty and another $34,772.34 to RFC for a total of $36,485.88 to the two firms.

Dagastino’s campaign disclosures also list several maximum donations of $1,000 a piece from William and Cindy Shopoff, John and Marsha Santry, and Daniel and Rose Oschin.  These individuals were listed as “retired” on the forms, but a google search reveals that William, John, and Daniel are all currently listed members of the management team of Shopoff Realty Investments raising the concern that an effort was made to disguise contributions from the developer.  While on the campaign trail, Dagastino has also made other dubious claims such as boasting that she personally brought 4 businesses to Torrance and that she has 10,000 Twitter followers.

12 comments

  • What I’m putting here are some new thoughts, and some from the Facebook TTH page. Of the six candidates for Council, there is one you should really know more about before you mark that dot by her name. I have my preferences among the other five, but Leilani is the only one on this list IMHO who is in this race for her personal glory, and does not have the best wishes of the city at heart.

    1. She will say, and has said, anything to anyone to get elected. A true chameleon who champions herself as a conservative, but has the backing of several hard left democrats, including Maxine Waters. (Yes, the city council is supposed to be non-partisan. I’m addressing character here.)

    2. Her campaign website has a page for endorsements (http://www.leilaniforcouncil.com/endorsements/), where she lists 33 organizations and individuals. Good for her, right?! Except for this little disclaimer to keep her from being fined by the FPPC: “*All titles are included for identification purposes only and does not imply any endorsement from the organization unless otherwise noted.”

    Legal? Yup. Deceptive? Sure thing. Kinda reminds me of the “PTA” endorsement Pat Furey Jr. used in his daddy’s campaign in 2014. The real PTA was understandably furious, and the FPPC levied fines.

    3. SPEAKING of the Fureys and the FPPC: she basically laps up all drops of milk the mayor spills, but worse she has had Jr. as her campaign consultant, even though many advised that this was not a smart move. She finally relented, we were told, but then it was discovered that the company just changed names. See Susan Hughes’ post, above. She also parrots the “it’s all the Daily Breeze and Nick Green” nonsense.

    4. She has attempted to smear a respected community member (Aurelio Mattucci) as a misogynist after he disagreed with her on a topic. Just a bald-faced lie.

    5. Claims to have 10,000 Twitter followers (at this candidate forum, and other times as well). Actually has, as of this writing, 4512 between her campaign and personal accounts. “But all politicians exaggerate”, you say. Yeah, it’s wrong. Again, going back to character here.

    6. One of her claims to fame is that she attends every City Council meeting, and has done so for over four years. Well, bravo! Except: anyone can (and many do) accomplish the same thing watching the proceedings on City Cable. From a FB post:
    “Listen to her answer about pension issue, same as mayor gave. She has been going to council meeting for over 4 years what issue did she ever bring up? She will be a rubber stamp for the mayor no questions asked. With an MBA and doesn’t see the financial issue we are in, is actually scary for me.”‘

    Being a butt on a seat is NOT the same as actually doing something.

    OK, ’nuff for now I think.

    I’m asking you to think, too. This is not by any means an exhaustive list.

    (Jr. should be chiming in here momentarily under his spineless “anonymous” pseudonym.

  • Good comparison with Sanchez.

    Someone asked me tonight why I write these. Simple, really: I have zero tolerance for dishonesty, with special animosity toward politicians who lie, because they can affect many lives.

  • I AM JUST SHARING LINKS TO REVEAL THE TRUTH.
    Leilani Kimmel D’Agostino is a FRAUD. This is my opinion of her. Besides the fact that Torrance City Council candidate Leilani Kimmel D’Agostino likes to talk bad about me and many others to people in Torrance. She is also lying to the public.
    Since when is speaking the truth something we should fear?
    Personally I don’t care who Leilani uses for her campaign. I do however question the fact she denied using Jr. as her consultant.
    That is why I decided to share this “PUBLIC INFORMATION” with anyone that may have missed it.
    I’m tired of the “Don’t step on Political Toes” thing.
    Seems like this is information the public needs to know. She may still win, and I may make more enemies at city hall, but something no one could ever say is that I don’t have the BALLS to speak up.
    As you know Torrance City Council Candidate Leilani D’Agostino is using Patrick Furey Jr. as her consultant. Amid the controversy with the Furey family, Leilani has been getting a lot of pressure from supporters about her relationship with Jr. and many advised her to drop him.
    Funny thing is that she is now stating that she is no longer using Jr. but interestingly enough the company name changed according to her most recent 460 filing, but both the address and phone number of this “New” consultant is still the same as Liberty Campaign Solutions.
    Feel free to compare for yourself.
    http://www.torranceca.gov/20148.htm
    New company http://rfccommunications.com/contact-us/ Presumably owned by Patrick Furey Jr.
    Old Company http://www.yellowpages.com/torrance-ca/mip/liberty-campaign-solutions-llc-475556929 Also presumably owned by Patrick Furey Jr.
    Do what you want with the info, after all it’s public record.
    Again, I don’t care who she uses as her campaign manager, but if she has to lie about this, what else will she lie about in the future?
    SHARE with your Torrance Voters if you think this is information they should know.

  • Mark Tsuneishi

    An excellent overview of the candidates running for Torrance city council. It is incumbent upon each of us to make informed decisions on those who will lead our city in the coming years.

    I am supporting Milton Herring because he represents the type of independent leadership we need in our elected officials.

    I would rather have a principled stance and lose a few votes than try to appease too many people and satisfy none. Principles do matter.

    We have candidates who obfuscate their positions & record and flail about trying to garner votes but we are not so easily deceived nor our vote so easily taken.

    Our city matters. Voting is a responsibility and privilege that I encourage each of you to engage this June 7th.

  • Well stated Mark.

    Principles and integrity are critical when considering our votes. I’ll vote for a candidate I disagree with over a liar every time. Might be able to sway a viewpoint; once a liar, always a liar.

  • My three choices:

    1. Mike Griffiths
    2. Milton Herring
    3. Geoff Rizzo

  • And HERE’S what happens when you try to have a conversation with Leilani (HT: Schaper):

    https://www.facebook.com/arthurchristopher.schaper/videos/884406131686934/

  • Lourdes Kishii

    After so much deliberations I’m voting for:
    1. Mike Griffiths
    2. Milton Herring
    3 Genghmun Eng

    They are independent and principled. Another thing, I am consciously not voting those endorsed by Mayor Pat Furey.

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