Bobby Shriver invoked his Kennedy family heritage Tuesday as he launched his campaign for Los Angeles County supervisor, using his place in the political dynasty to try to gain an edge even while casting himself as an "outsider."
The former mayor of Santa Monica told reporters at Will Rogers State Beach that he was running because he wanted to "shake things up" in a county that faces major challenges with homelessness, traffic, the environment and a broken foster care system.
"I come from a family with a tradition of making a difference in people's lives," Shriver said. "And let me tell you, Los Angeles needs that difference."
Shriver, 59, the son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver and the nephew of President Kennedy, served eight years on the Santa Monica City Council. He framed the campaign against his leading rival, Sheila Kuehl, as an opportunity for voters to impose change on a panel known for its immense power and limited accountability.
Responding later to a question about how he differs from Kuehl, Shriver praised the former state lawmaker from Santa Monica for being "a very positive force" in Sacramento, particularly on Santa Monica Mountains conservation.
"I've done different things," said Shriver, who has worked as a reporter, lawyer, venture capitalist, film producer and philanthropist. "I haven't been a career legislator"
Parke Skelton, a consultant to Kuehl's campaign, said that Kuehl had been a "pathbreaking civil rights attorney" and law professor before she ran for public office.
The winner of the race to replace Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will represent 2 million people in a district that covers much of the Westside and San Fernando Valley.
Shriver has said he might put some of his personal wealth into the contest, raising questions about how much he has and how he invests it. In an interview, Shriver said he did not know his net worth. Disclosure forms he filed in Santa Monica show a broad range of holdings, including tobacco and oil investments that rivals might use to question his environmental credentials.
Shriver said the only stocks he chose were Starbucks, Berkshire Hathaway and Harley-Davidson; the rest were selected by managers of various funds and trusts. His only prohibition, he said, was on South African investments during apartheid.
Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.