Studio City Residents Association hosts first debate of CD 2 runoff election

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angela-fentiman90BY ANGELA FENTIMAN

The two runoff candidates vying to represent L.A.’s Second Council District participated in their first debate Tuesday, October 13,  since beating-out eight other candidates in the Sept. 22 special election.

Former Paramount executive Chris Essel and Assemblymember Paul Krekorian joined members of the Studio City Residents Association (SCRA) to discuss city budget issues, development in the district, the entertainment industry and other topics important to residents. Attendees braved a rainy evening to ask the candidates their questions.

Chris Essel and Paul Krekorian debate on at the Studio City Residents Association meeting October 13. Photo courtesy SCRA

Chris Essel and Paul Krekorian debate on at the Studio City Residents Association meeting October 13. Photo courtesy SCRA

Krekorian called the current budget crisis facing the city a “transformative moment.” More important than the budget crisis, Krekorian said that a “crisis of confidence” exists in the city because the people do not trust their government and he hopes to repair this relationship.

Essel also stressed the importance of fixing the city’s budget, creating a rainy day fund, collecting funds owed to the city and getting pension commitments under control.

“We need to look at the numbers,” said Essel. “I’m an accountant by trade.”

Several questions regarding land use issues in the district were posed to the candidates. SB 1818 implementation in the city, mansionization and preserving open space (specifically the Weddington Golf & Tennis property) were discussed. The NBC Universal and Metro developments adjacent to CD 2 were also on the minds of attendees.

“I want the production jobs, but the residential side of these projects needs to be reevaluated,” Essel said.

Entertainment industry jobs were addressed again as the candidates discussed tax credits for filming and how to keep production in the city.

Krekorian told attendees about his recent efforts to, “enact the first California film production incentive.” He said that the credits are directly creating jobs in the city and across the state.

The candidates were questioned about criticisms that were brought up during the initial campaign, including the claim that both Essel and Krekorian only moved to the Second Council District to run for the open seat.

Essel assured attendees that she planned to make her move to CD 2 a permanent one. “Studio City is by favorite spot in L.A.,” she said.

Krekorian said that although his family was currently living in Valley Glen, they were searching for houses in Studio City and Sherman Oaks, both in the Second Council District.

Frank Sheftel, who finished sixth in the Sept. 22 race, was on hand to hear the runoff candidates’ remarks. He has yet to make an endorsement for the runoff, but plans to make a decision next week.

Sheftel expects absentee voters to play a critical role in deciding the outcome of the race.

“If either candidate can put out a good absentee campaign that’s the candidate who will win,” he said.

Though the group hosted the debate, SCRA does not endorse candidates, according to the group’s President Alan Dymond. Regardless of who is elected to represent the district, Dymond would like to see, “reactions to our members’ concerns.”

Essel and Krekorian garnered more votes than the other eight candidates to qualify for the runoff race, with 28.39 and 34.10 percent of the ballots cast in their favor, respectively. Second Council District voters will elect their new councilmember on Tues., Dec. 8.

The Second Council District seat, which represents the communities of Lake View Terrace, La Tuna Canyon, North Hollywood, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Sunland, Sun Valley, Tujunga, Valley Village, Valley Glen and Van Nuys; has been vacant since July 1, when former L.A. City Councilmember Wendy Greuel took office as city controller.

Angela Fentiman is a freelance writer and public relations professional who has represented clients across all sectors—nonprofit, government and business. She has a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) and a B.A. in communication. Angela can be contacted at

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