Bobby Shriver invoked his Kennedy family heritage on 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 a cluster of reporters at Will Rogers State Beach that he was running because he wanted to fix things and “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 as waves crashed on the beach behind him and cyclists pedaled by. “And let me tell you, Los Angeles needs that difference.”
Shriver, 59, is the son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver and the nephew of former President Kennedy. His sister, former California First Lady Maria Shriver, attended the event, but tried to avoid reporters and news cameras.
Bobby Shriver, who served eight years on the Santa Monica City Council, 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.
“I’m an outsider,” Shriver said. “I’m not a career politician.”
Responding later to a question on how he differs from Kuehl, Shriver made clear that his remarks were targeted at the former state lawmaker from Santa Monica.
“I have a lot of respect for career politicians,” he said, paying a backhanded compliment to Kuehl.
Shriver praised Kuehl for being “a very positive force” in Sacramento, particularly on Santa Monica Mountains conservation, but said his longtime work outside elected office distinguished him from his top opponent.
“I’ve done different things,” said Shriver, who has worked as a reporter, a lawyer, a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur, a film producer and a philanthropist. “I haven’t been a career legislator. And I think people will decide whether they want a career legislator or a more entrepreneurial spirit.”
Parke Skelton, a consultant to Kuehl’s campaign, said Kuehl, a founder of the California Women’s Law Center, had a distinguished record as a “path-breaking civil rights attorney” and law professor before she ran for public office.
“It seems odd that Bobby Shriver would be casting aspersions on Sheila’s phenomenal record of leadership,” Skelton said.