Al Restivo steps down from Republican Club

After 19 years at the helm of the La Cañada Flintridge Republican Club, Al Restivo has called it quits.

Restivo, who turned 76 on Wednesday, plans to publish a book and also wants to free up time to resume college teaching and expand his business consulting work.

Ernest Koeppen, who was the club’s first vice president and campaigned last year for a seat on the La Cañada school board, assumed presidential duties upon Restivo’s departure this week.

Restivo founded the club in 1993, making an independent organization out of a local chapter of the more staunchly conservative California Republican Assembly.

“I was a very strong believer in the big-tent theory — that the Republican Party has to consist of people from all spectrums of the population, from very conservative to moderate,” he said.

Restivo’s group has existed alongside the Foothills Republican Club, founded in 2000 by former state Assembly candidate Dave Wilcox as a more right-leaning group focused on voter mobilization.

Koeppen said that without Restivo firmly in charge of nearly every aspect of the La Cañada Flintridge Republican Club, the roughly 100-member organization will become even more inclusive because other members now have to step into leadership roles.

“More of us will participate more often, with more varied input and more public activities,” said Koeppen, who hopes the club will engage a wider spectrum of the community — perhaps even Democrats. “I want to kill the team-sport mentality and foster more dialogue between the two parties.”

In recent years, Restivo worked to form a citywide network of conservative-leaning youth.

“Al’s dream was to have one big youth organization, and hopefully within the next year we’ll see it happen,” said La Cañada High School Republican Club President Alex Keledjian, who became treasurer of the La Cañada Flintridge Republican Club earlier this year. Keledjian, 17, is currently steering the La Cañada High School club toward a merger with young Republicans at Flintridge Preparatory School.

Restivo is a New York City native who worked as a salesman for the Avery Dennison Corp. before moving to the company’s Pasadena headquarters in 1986 to become director of training and development.

In the 1970s, Restivo served on the school board in Eastchester, New York, and also held an elected Republican Party leadership position. He also worked as a writer and editor for a group of local newspapers from 1978 to 1986.

Restivo currently works as a business and career coach. He also handles promotions for St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church and the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada.

Restivo said his upcoming, self-published book is about the characteristics and skills that define leadership at the business, political and community levels.

The book was inspired by his time as a teacher of management and organizational behavior at Cal State University Los Angeles, work Restivo intends to resume, he said, “if their budget permits.”

Critical of Sacramento’s management of the higher education system, Restivo makes it clear that he won’t altogether disappear from political sphere.

“I will stay involved in politics because those are the kind of things that irk me,” he said.

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