Name: Jennifer McGrath
Birthplace: Fremont, Calif.
How long have you lived in Huntington Beach? Except for the time spent away for my education, I have lived in Huntington Beach for 28 years.
Occupation: city attorney, city of Huntington Beach
Education: bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA (1990), juris doctorate from McGeorge School of Law (1995)
Previously elected or appointed positions: I have served as the elected city attorney since 2002.
Community organizations you belong to: Kiwanis Club of Huntington Beach, Soroptomist International of Huntington Beach
What do you think are the biggest issues facing Huntington Beach right now?
The single biggest issue facing Huntington Beach is the budget. With uncertain economic times on a local, state and federal level, the City Council will have to make some difficult decisions on how to maintain or improve the current service levels expected by the community with less resources.
What is one decision in the last year that the city attorney got right and why would you have supported it?
Most of the decisions I make cannot be disclosed as they are confidential, attorney-client privileged communications. However, I am very proud of the fact that I was able to continue to contain the costs of outside council with no increased liability or exposure of the city's General Fund, despite a reduction in work-force and an increase in claims and lawsuits filed. That decision enabled General Fund monies to be available for infrastructure, public safety and community services.
What is one decision in the last year the city attorney got wrong, or partially wrong, and why would you have ruled differently?
The city attorney is a non-partisan position providing legal advice to the City Council and staff. The law does not cater to party affiliations or bias. Too frequently, people ascribe council action or city staff decisions to be based solely on legal advice. The City Council and city staff can, and do, disregard the legal advice of the city attorney. The city attorney does not make policy decisions. Policy decisions are made by the City Council members elected by the voters. The elected city attorney is the check and balance to ensure that the City Council members have legal advice as they make their policy decisions to avoid the needless expenditure of taxpayer dollars on litigation. The city attorney is frequently criticized for the decisions that are made by the City Council. I have worked hard to become a transparent office and explain the role of the city attorney and I will continue to do so.