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41st Assembly District

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Each election cycle, The Times Valley Edition editorial board interviews candidates from select races about their views on the issues and about their campaigns. Today’s interviews are with Fran Pavley and Jayne Murphy Shapiro, who are campaigning for the 41st Assembly District seat vacated by Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), who is running for state Senate. The largely affluent, well-educated district stretches from Malibu over the Santa Monica Mountains into the western San Fernando Valley.

Pavley, a Democrat, is a schoolteacher who served on the Agoura Hills City Council and was a four-term mayor of that city. She also has served on the California Coastal Commission and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee.

Shapiro, a Republican, is a nurse and community activist. She is the founder of KidSafe, an organization dedicated to strengthening laws against child molesters and increasing awareness of child abuse. She is a member of the executive committee of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and an appointee to the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women.

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Question: What do you think you offer voters that your opponent does not?

Answer: A balanced approach to issues. While I don’t have the background in terms of being an elected official, I think there’s some freshness that the 41st District is looking for. In advocating for children for so many years, I’ve learned the political system. I’ve learned the process of legislation, going from an idea and a proposal to a bill to a law and then watching to see that it’s implemented. And even though I’ve been focused on children’s advocacy, those skills are really, truly important at the state level, to work very closely with both sides of the aisle, which I don’t know if my opponent would be able to do. She’s quite beholden to her party. I don’t consider myself beholden to my party. I consider myself more of an independent thinker. I was not sought out to run for the party, nor did I seek out the party. I am just fiscally more conservative and find that the Republican party meets those needs of mine. Social issues, I’m much more liberal. I really feel that I have the ability to listen to both sides and come up with solutions that do the right thing. I don’t see that in my opponent, and that concerns me. It concerns me that that type of person would get into office. It’s a closed-door approach, it’s a one-issue-oriented mind-set, and I think that’s dangerous to any community, to have an elected official represent them in one direction and not have that open-door policy.

Q: You are a Republican running in a heavily Democratic district. Do you feel as though you are aligned with Democrats on a lot of issues?

A: What I’m finding in the district is that even though the registration is more Democratic than Republican, the people are truly independent thinkers. When you really sit down and talk to individuals, and don’t talk the R-word or the D-word but talk issues, you really come up with people who want to understand the issue and take care of the issue. I do have the Republican Party wrapped up, obviously. And I’ve been very instrumental and successful in moving people over, not to the Republican thought process, but moving them over to voting for a Republican like myself.

Q: Are you pro-choice?

A: I’m very pro-choice.

Q: Do you support the Bush-Cheney ticket?

A: No. I have a real hard time with someone who doesn’t believe in choice because I think of the impact it’s going to have on women. I think that both Bush and Cheney being anti-choice makes it very difficult for someone like me to get behind someone like that.

Q: How do you stand on the school voucher issue? (Proposition 38 on the state ballot would authorize at least $4,000 per pupil for use in attending qualifying private and religious schools).

A: I’m against the initiative, and I say that because if you introduce the voucher system on a massive scale, it would implode the public school system. I am not opposed giving parents a choice of where to send their child in the public school system. What I would like to see is a system where if a school, after let’s say a year, two years, three years, under-performs badly, parents can send their child somewhere else. The other thing is the system is so bad and in such disarray [that] it’s now on the front burner, statewide, and I would like to see us give it a shot. I think Los Angeles [Unified School District] Supt. Roy Romer has great ideas for the district. The most important thing that the state Legislature has to look at is the quality of education the kids are going to get, no matter where they are. I would like to see the emphasis placed on increased pay for teachers. If you don’t have a level of salary that’s attractive, we’re not going to get grads going out and teaching our kids.

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Q: Did your children go to public school?

A: My four boys went to a Jewish day school. I was fortunate enough to be able to choose that, and I come from a religious background. I’m not against people having that choice, but I think to do it on a massive scale . . . I don’t think we’re ready for that.

Q: Do you favor the breakup of the Los Angeles Unified School District?

A: I did initially, before they talked about splitting into 11 smaller districts. I like this even better because it’s not so drastic a step. With term limits and the turnaround we have, we’re just flying through bills and passing laws. Now we need to see if things work. Charter schools are my favorite. I like the philosophy. Some don’t work. But I think that on the whole, it’s a good way to move.

Q: Do you favor Proposition 39, which would allow school bonds to be passed by a 55% majority rather than the two-thirds now required?

A: I favor that. Just make sure that it’s being done properly and the money is going exactly where it needs to go. And that’s not only in the field of education, that’s all over. I think we really have to strengthen our focus on accountability in all areas.

Q: You mentioned term limits. Do you favor them?

A: I favor term limits when I think of Bob Hertzberg. This is a legislator who to me is brilliant and can handle term limits and has done an incredible job. I’ve watched him not only go through the Assembly Rules Committee and take these bills and just disperse them, but he’s changed the system. He’s cleaned up the system. And he does it smoothly and beautifully. If we could have legislators like that, term limits are fine. The concerns I have are about the type of people getting into office. I’ve seen a lot of them that are not up there for the right reason. And I see a lot of elected officials who don’t really represent their people. And that pains me and it concerns me and that’s one of the reasons why I really do want to run. I’m not saying I’m brilliant like a Bob Hertzberg, but I do know that I’ve got the respect from him and that if I’m up there, even though I’m a Republican, that we could work very, very well together.

Q: What do you think we should be doing to solve our transportation problems?

A: First of all, obviously, we need funding to implement something that’s going to work. Then there is accountability. I would like to see where the money is and where it’s going. I don’t understand how, when we had the Northridge earthquake, our freeways got fixed so quickly. We can do things. Not over years, but months. Planning is crucial. We’ve got to look ahead, that visionary type of approach. We’ve got to see what we’re doing when we’re building something and the impact it’s going to have. One of the major concerns in my area is the proposed Ahmanson Ranch development. The impact that it has on the surface streets and the freeway is going to be . . . well, we are already in a crisis; it’s going to be even worse.

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Q: How do you stand on the Ahmanson Ranch development?

A: I am not opposed to housing development. What I am concerned about with Ahmanson Ranch is that the planning stages for the impact on traffic should have been taken into consideration 10 or 11 years ago, and now we’re dealing with it. And I don’t think that that’s fair. I think they could scale it back. And I think we need to see studies from Rocketdyne to see if the soil is as contaminated as a lot of people are saying it is. It concerns me deeply about the soil. And I’m not saying the soil is contaminated, but if that stuff starts to move around and shake up, we’re dealing with a crisis in the [San Fernando] Valley. My husband died in 1990. We lived in Granada Hills, and he was an avid tennis player. We weren’t in the area of Rocketdyne, but with 75 mph winds, you can’t tell me that those particles and spores don’t move around. He died of cancer of the lung, and he was a nonsmoker with no history. And so I look at that and say, “I just wonder. I just wonder, being out there seven days a week playing tennis, in an environment that could possibly have had some spores moving around.” It really, truly concerns me.

Q: Where do you stand on the secession issue?

A: I was a chair for the women’s division for the San Fernando Valley Jewish Federation. We spent years trying to break off from the city because we were raising more dollars but we did not get our fair share. I understand the concept. I am not opposed to the breakup or secession. I think the voters have the right to want this. Smaller, to me, is better. I think it’s time the Valley gets a fair share. And I know that term has been used and used and used, but I really do believe that we do not get our fair share, from the studies that I have seen.

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