Wentzel's campaign is a family affair

Bob Wentzel has two formidable, influential women backing his campaign for Huntington Beach City Council — and neither one comes attached to a union or major political party.

Rather, they're his wife and mother. And their voices make the strongest impression on his campaign website, http://www.becausebobcares.com, which says of the candidate that "talking or writing about his accomplishments makes him feel embarrassed."

True, the website does have a section in Wentzel's own words in which he lays out his top 11 political platforms. But click on the "About Us" tab at the top and you'll find an adoring essay written by his wife, Linda Wentzel — and then there's the "Mom's Blog" section, which mom Mary Wentzel delivers from her home in the Wisconsin woods.

The first item on said blog: "Today I was reflecting on a relay race Bob ran in the 5th grade. He was out in front, but was so astonished by his lead he turned to see where everyone was. He won that day! It had little to do with this Mom's wild cheering, but with his own courage to win. Like that day, I'm still wildly cheering."

For Bob Wentzel, a first-time candidate, running for office is a family affair. He hasn't put signage around town and doesn't plan to seek any major endorsements. Rather, he hopes his message of reforming pension costs, balancing the budget and serving the community's seniors will resonate through word of mouth.

"This is my first time in politics, so I really wanted to listen to what they [voters] had to say," Wentzel said.

The senior issue is particularly key to the candidate, who recently turned 56 and moved earlier this year into the Huntington Landmark living community for ages 55 and older.

Wentzel said he first got the idea to run for office after a neighbor suggested he visit the Michael E. Rodgers Seniors' Center, which has been in line for a replacement since voters approved a new senior center in Huntington Central Park in 2006.

The proposed center has faced legal challenges and funding problems through the last decade, and officials no longer expect the planned Pacific City development to foot the entire bill for its construction. However the city ends up funding the facility, the senior population will need it soon, Wentzel said.

"It was woeful," he said about the Rodgers center. "The facilities were lacking. There wasn't enough space. There wasn't enough parking. It didn't seem like the kind of facility a metropolitan city like Huntington Beach should have for its seniors."

To speed the process, Wentzel proposes setting aside all Quimby Act, park development and in-lieu fees for the new center until it's completed. He also favors Measure Z, which would eliminate a property tax that helps fund city employees' pensions, and proposes that Huntington Beach institute districts for City Council members to better represent different parts of the city.

Speaking of representation, Wentzel said he has something else to offer voters: plenty of time. While his website trumpets his experience in human resources and labor relations with several companies, the candidate said he has been officially retired for two decades, earning a small living as a freelance photographer while his wife, who works in insurance, serves as main breadwinner.

According to Mary Wentzel, that open schedule coupled with a passion for politics should make her son a valuable part of the council.

"He just follows everything to fruition," she said. "He's very positive. Of course, I'm his mom, but he listens well. He does well with all kinds of people."


Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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