Candidate and Westchester attorney Angela Reddock made her neighborhood debut Monday evening at a candidate forum at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and instantly became the big buzz during post-forum chatter among those who stayed to exchange “reviews” of the event.
Reddock benefited from the fact that few in the audience — including us — had ever heard Reddock and knew nothing of her background and talent.
For most of us, it has been a two-person race between Brentwood community activist and former West L.A. Planning Commission head Flora Gil Krisiloff and cable TV personality Bill Rosendahl.
Rosendahl came out of the starting gate early, scooping up endorsements from all the movers and shakers in the region, some of whom even live in the district.
Krisiloff countered by raising even more money than Rosendahl, proving that she could run an eventual serious race.
And then there was Reddock. A sort of unknown entity just filling out the ballot.
But during Monday evening’s candidate forum sponsored by the local Neighborhood Council, the local chamber, Westchester Vitalization Corporation and Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Reddock demonstrated that with her personal charm, her articulate ability to communicate and her “gosh, gee whiz” optimism, she could at least compete at a candidate forum with her two opponents.
Moreover, when it became obvious that traffic was high on everyone’s list of important local issues, it turned out that — surprise — it is Reddock who has the most experience in local traffic matters, serving as she does on the City of Los Angeles Transportation Commission.
She’s also on the County Small Business Development Commission and even serves on a state board responsible for ensuring that the public gets not only its money’s worth but professional services at hair salons and barber shops throughout the state.
Reddock admitted that she doesn’t have all those endorsements and all that money that the other candidates have raised, but she does have a genuine interest in her neighborhood and an ability to serve the community as a City Council member.
Forum moderator Fernando Guerra, LMU associate professor of Chicano studies and political science, noted early on that there are three very good candidates in this race.
He’s right. Any one of the three could serve the district well.
The folks who claim to know tell us that the election is Rosendahl’s to lose.
But he did nothing Monday evening that would suggest he plans to diminish his presumed big lead.
Frankly, we thought he was terrific. As good as we’ve ever seen Rosendahl. In early appearances, Rosendahl seemed to be all over the place, droning on endlessly — mostly about all the movers and shakers and swells whom he knows personally and who are supporting his candidacy.
Monday, he seemed more focused. What impressed us the most was his ability to grab a question from Guerra and use it to inform his audience more about his extensive resume.
With each answer, we learned more about Rosendahl. Occasionally, he even got around to answering the question before him.
The point is, he was alert, he was active, he was informative and he showed he knows how to work a room. Perhaps Playa Vista president Steve Soboroff comes closest to such local showmanship and Soboroff came within a whisker of getting into the runoff for mayor four years ago.
We would like to report wonderful things about Flora Gil Krisiloff but we found her completely flat during the evening.
Perhaps the cruelest thing was to put Krisiloff between the flamboyant Rosendahl on one side and the bubbly upbeat Reddock on the other side.
In the middle, Krisiloff looked grim, uncomfortable and totally out of sync for most of the evening. It would have helped if she could have managed an occasional smile and just a hint that she was not just waiting for the clock to spin around so she could make a dash for the door.
The fact that her companions on the panel were having such a jolly time didn’t help.
Rosendahl couldn’t wait to get back in the center of attention, eager to answer every question thrown his way.
And Reddock showed her neighbors she is really warming up to this campaign stuff and even if she doesn’t make it this time out, she just might want to try again down the road.
After two long hours in an overly air-conditioned hall, it came time for closing comments and Krisiloff woke up to drop a real bomb.
After what had been a wonderful evening of upbeat camaraderie, Krisiloff decided to end the evening on an extremely negative and unwelcome blast at Rosendahl, suggesting that he did a lousy job running Adelphia and that no one liked the cable company when he was one of its executives. Well, folks were so stunned by the barrage that some of the dialogue just got lost in the end, buried under a well-deserved burst of boos from the audience — the only boos of the evening.
Krisiloff not only left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, she lost some votes on the spot.
After the forum, we dashed about the foyer, doing some unattributable exit polling.
Krisiloff’s outburst certainly was the topic of the moment.
One Westchester leader who had already announced that she was a Krisiloff supporter was outraged, even suggesting that Krisiloff had ruined the evening with her unnecessary attack.
“I can’t vote for someone who does that,” she told us, within earshot of Rosendahl, who was delighted that he was picking up new support even though the former Krisiloff supporter had said nothing about shifting to Rosen-dahl.
We asked Rosendahl what he thought about the Krisiloff Adelphia comments.
“It was expected,” Rosendahl told us. “We have expected all along that she would run a very negative campaign against us.”
Along with Krisiloff’s outburst, everyone seemed to be talking about how articulate and delightful Reddock turned out to be.
So what does this all mean?
First of all, there are still weeks to go in the campaign and two more important local campaign forums, one at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, 2232 Lincoln Blvd., Tuesday, February 8th, and a second at Venice High School the following Tuesday, February 15th.
We’re still undecided. We think these community candidate forums are very important in helping to form voter decisions.
And a lot can happen at either or both of them. Who would have guessed that Krisiloff would self-destruct in the last moments of the LMU event.
We are forever changing our mind. In the beginning we thought this would be a two-person race that would be decided in the Tuesday, March 8th, primary.
We gave the third candidate four or five percentage points just for being on the ballot.
But after seeing Reddock in action, we have to believe that if she is as effective in the next two candidate forums she could easily expand her vote count to double digits and that would keep either of her two opponents from getting the required 50 percent plus one vote in the primary.
Stayed tuned, folks. This thing isn’t over yet.
The candidates themselves are changing as the campaign progresses. Rosendahl has calmed down a lot, seems to be more focused and, in our opinion, is looking more statesman-like all the time.
We’re told by those who saw Reddock early on that she too is maturing as a candidate.
Hopefully, Krisiloff will take away from Monday’s fiasco the realization that while voters may love negative mailers and negative media ads, they are appalled with face-to-face negative outbursts.
Thanks to everyone who put the Monday LMU event together. Guerra was a superb moderator and the evening really did give neighbors a chance to meet and hear the candidates.