REDONDO BEACH, CA — The 2020 election is heating up in Los Angeles County, and there are plenty of races with candidates eager to serve in elected office. Eyes are primarily focused on the presidential election, but voters will also decide the outcome of state representative and senate seats.
Closer to home, Patch has asked candidates for municipal races to discuss their campaigns, publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
In the South Bay, Vanessa Poster is running for one of the open seats for the Beach Cities Health District.
Age (as of Election Day)
Town/City of Residence
Where appropriate, add specifics about office sought: i.e., State Senate District 1, State Assembly District 2, Temecula City Council District 1, etc.
Beach Cities Health District
Party affiliation (not needed in non-partisan races, including county, city and school offices)
John Rubiner, husband (as of September 27, 2020).
David Poster, father, 93.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
BA and MA from Stanford University
Management Consultant for Nonprofits (30 years), Published poet and writer, teaching writing since 2017, Former Director of Development: South Bay Free Clinic
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Currently holding office as Beach Cities Health District Board Member
The single most pressing issue facing our (state, district, community, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Maintaining and expanding the 40+ amazing health and wellness programs at BCHD in the face of COVID and fiscal challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused attention on the indispensable role of our leading Public Health agency, the BCHD, in all of our lives. In March, 2020, BCHD established an Emergency Operations Center and created a seven-day-a-week Assistance, Information & Referral line for Beach Cities Residents. (310-374-3426 x 256.) BCHD has developed “Safe in the South Bay” to help local chambers of commerce and city governments support businesses and restaurants in meeting health requirements so we can re-build our economy. The future will bring many challenges and I intend to support the most creative and safe approaches to helping people stay healthy and active and connected. BCHD will lead the community in acting on the lessons learned from COVID-19, including creating additional outdoor recreation areas, infection control and dealing with issues of isolation, stress and loneliness.
I personally brought my neighbors together to help them cope with the pandemic. I walked door-to-door and introduced myself, creating contact lists and neighborhood Zoom meetings. My personal action became a model for BCHD to train volunteers to reach out to their own neighbors safely. I intend to continue this level of innovation and passion in meeting community needs.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I have many years of experience at BCHD. I am passionate about health and wellness and have a proven track record serving this community.
Under my leadership, BCHD has:
• Become a nationally recognized prevention and wellness model
• Reduced childhood obesity by 68% in Redondo Beach Schools
• Created cutting-edge programs for adults and seniors
• Pivoted like a ballerina to confront the impact of COVID-19
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
1) CREATIVELY MEET THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19
2) EMPOWER TEENS TO LEAD AND SUCCEED
3) REVITALIZE BCHD’S CAMPUS TO PROTECT COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AND MEET GROWING HEALTH NEEDS
1) CREATIVELY MEET THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19 –see “Single Most Pressing Issues” above
2) EMPOWER TEENS TO LEAD AND SUCCEED
Under my guidance, the BCHD created a Youth Advisory Council, some 80+ teens who tell us adults how to help them best. These youth have led school-wide mental health awareness campaigns and developed creative approaches to stop vaping and encourage their peers to wear masks.
My leadership helped BCHD earn a “Drug-Free Communities” federal grant for programs to reduce drug abuse – led by teens to support teens and a grant from the State of California to develop a Youth Wellness Center. Implementing these programs in the most effective way is a top priority for me.
3) REVITALIZE BCHD’S CAMPUS TO PROTECT COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AND MEET GROWING HEALTH NEEDS
BCHD’s amazing and free-of-charge programs in our schools, communities, city governments, homes, restaurants and workplaces can only be supported by a strong financial foundation. The cost of District’s beloved programs exceeds the money received from tax dollars, which provide less than 30% of the District’s budget and is less than .01% of your property taxes.
My vision to rejuvenate the campus includes:
• A GREENER CAMPUS
Let’s turn a parking lot into a park! Asphalt covers the majority of our campus. I envision an inviting campus with ample space for native plants, coastal butterflies, outdoor recreation, farmers’ markets and Shakespeare in the park for all of us to enjoy.
• A SUSTAINABLE FINANCIAL FUTURE
Only a modernized facility can generate the revenues required to continue providing free, high-quality Public Health services. The innovative PACE program will bring tremendous services to our community as well as generate revenue to support BCHD’s free community and school programs
• A SAFE CAMPUS
We must remedy dangers such as a structure that fails earthquake safety standards and chemical pollution beneath the soil to ensure a public safety.
• A RESPONSIVE CAMPUS
Extensive market research shows that the aging population of the Beach Cities are going to need safe, clean and supportive environments to live in when their own homes are no longer safe for them or they need more support than family members can give.
Thanks to extensive community review and public participation, BCHD’s revised project description responds directly to community concerns. In addition, CEQA requires the public to have only 30 days to review the Draft EIR, which will document the project’s construction impact on neighbors and recommend alternatives and mitigation measures. I pledge to provide twice as much time: 60 days of public input on the DRAFT EIR.
The revised project description reduces
o RCFE (Residential Care for the Elderly) units from 420 to 220 (160 more than are currently on the campus)
o Total square footage of construction from 423,000 sq. ft. to 253,700 sq. ft.
o Construction time from nine years and three phases to four years and two phases
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have received state-wide recognition for my leadership of BCHD by being named Trustee of the Year by the Association of California Health Districts in 2018.
I have been a leader locally:
• Organized my Neighborhood Watch
• Founded the Women’s Coalition South Bay
• Volunteered on the Redondo Beach Green Task Force
• Served low-income residents at South Bay Free Clinic
Because I am focused on community leadership and safety, I participated in:
• Fire Department’s Community Emergency Response Team
• Citizen’s Police Awareness Academy
• Redondo Beach Leadership Class of 2018
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?
I am particularly proud of the work we do with teenagers. The 80 youth from all three cities who participate in our Youth Advisory Council develop programs to educate their peers and inform adults. These young people are heartbreaking in their honesty and ability to communicate their concerns!
I would like to see the comprehensive Youth Wellness Center completed as a place for teens to come for physical, emotional, mental, and social health. What’s unique and wonderful about this project is that adolescents themselves will help us to design a place that they and their peers will use.
Why should voters trust you?
In the last election, the voters overwhelmingly re-elected me to serve them on the BCHD Board. Under my leadership, BCHD has won awards for budget transparency from the Government Finance Officers Association. BCHD has been recognized, year after year by the American Psychological Association as one of the healthiest workplaces in America and visited by the Surgeon General of the United States who praised BCHD as a model agency in dealing with health and wellness. I have been part of these amazing accomplishments.
I love and care for this community. I have lived in Redondo Beach for 30 years and my family and I have been property owners for 3 generations.
I received endorsements from city council, school board and community members throughout Redondo, Manhattan and Hermosa Beach. I am honored and humbled that so many people have put their trust in me.
Current and Past Local Elected Officials
Congressmember Ted Lieu
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi
Stacy Armato, Councilmember, Hermosa Beach
Steve Aspel, Former Mayor, Redondo Beach
Anita Avrick, Former Redondo Unified School District Board Member
Margaret Bove-LaMonica, Hermosa Beach School Board Member
Mark Burton, Candidate Manhattan Beach City Council
Vish Chatterji, Board Member, Beach Cities Health District
Portia Cohen, Former Mayor, Manhattan Beach
Mike Detoy, Councilmember, Hermosa Beach
Jane Diehl, Board Member, Beach Cities Health District
Laura Emdee, Councilwoman, District 5, Redondo Beach
Hany Fangary, Councilmember, Hermosa Beach
Raymur Flinn, Redondo Unified School District Board Member
Mike Gin, Former Mayor Redondo Beach
Susan Goodlerner, M.D. Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Harbor UCLA
John Gran, Councilmember, Redondo Beach
Suzanne Hadley, Councilmember, Manhattan Beach
Amy Howarth, Former Mayor, Manhattan Beach
Christian Horvath, Councilmember, Redondo Beach
Justin Massey, Councilmember, Hermosa Beach
Richard Montgomery, Mayor, Manhattan Beach
Cliff Numark, former Torrance Councilmember; current El Camino Community College Board Member
Wayne Powell, Former Mayor Manhattan Beach, City of Manhattan Beach Senior Advisory Committee Member
Brad Serkin, Redondo Beach Unified School District Board Member
Arlene Staich, former Redondo Unified School District Board Member
George Schmeltzer, Former Mayor, Hermosa Beach
Brad Waller, Redondo Unified School District Board Member
David Witkin, Redondo Unified School District Board Member
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
I’m proud of BCHD for receiving the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.
I am especially proud of the ways in which BCHD stretches and maximizes resident’s tax dollars. Less than 1/3rd of our budget comes from Property Tax revenue (which is itself less than .01% of each property tax bill.)
In addition to our tax base, fee-based services and investments, BCHD generates revenue to pay for all of our free programs in the community through leases and partnerships. These leases and partnerships all focus on providing health services to the community and at the same time generate revenue that we can return to the community in valuable programming. In this way BCHD provides a tremendous value in exchange for a small investment from individual residents.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
I will fulfill my term.
The best advice ever shared with me was …
to keep changing the world, one day, one act at a time. I am proud of the ways I have made this world better with small actions, large policy decisions and always speaking the truth from my heart. I also believe in gratitude and recognizing the positive in every person and every situation.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I believe deeply in the good work that BCHD has done and continues to do for this community. One of the best programs we have at BCHD, and it is one of our best preventive health programs, is our volunteer program. We have more than 300 volunteers who are peer counselors, errand volunteers, garden docents, nutrition docents, restaurant ambassadors, drug-free partner coalition members, parent educators and many other positions.
People who volunteer impact those they serve and they themselves are healthier because of the purpose they find in volunteering. Every year I go to our volunteer recognition event and wear a costume according to the theme: our volunteers are superheroes (Wonder Woman): New York, New York (Statue of Liberty); Under the Sea (Mermaid). It’s a little thing, but it means a lot to our volunteers to see how much I appreciate them and celebrate them. I walk through the room and thank each individual for the work they do and the lives they change.
This article originally appeared on the Redondo Beach Patch