Sandra Nichols describes herself thusly: “I’m 69 years old, I don’t work. I live on retirement and Social Security, I rent, I take the bus – I owned a car and gave it to my son last September – I am disabled.”
In other words, she considers herself perfect to run for city council to be “a voice for people who think they have no voice, that have limited financial resources, who have no say in the increase of their property taxes, no say in development.”
She said she feels so strongly about this that she’s using a payment plan to pay for the ballot statement. She further saved money by keeping hers to fewer than 400 words, thus paying $1,100 instead of $2,200.
Throughout the 52-minute phone interview, Nichols outlined various problems she has with the way things are run, opined how she would do things differently, and often struggled to make a point without further explanation.
She began with her experience: a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Indiana and a master’s in public administration from California State University, Fullerton. She was a branch manager in the home healthcare industry for almost 20 years, which gives her an awareness of what goes on in local government. She said one of her tasks was to write grants.
She then attacked three of the five current council members for their pedigrees. Bob Kellar, she said, “has made a lot of money. He has a real estate office on Friendly Valley.” (Its actual street address is on Sierra Highway; Kellar also has offices on Soledad Canyon Road and Avenue of the Oaks.)
About Laurene Weste, one of the incumbents Nichols is trying to unseat, she referred to the Lyons Dockweiler extension when she said, “When they cut through from Lyons (Avenue), she’s going to make a lot of money. She owns that property back there.” (Weste has repeatedly denied she would stand to gain anything but refused the Gazette’s request in July to show definitive proof.)
“Cameron Smyth has a name,” Nichols said, and then referred to Cameron’s late father, Clyde, by saying, “There’s a street named after him, for God’s sake.”
As for the other two other incumbents running Nov. 6, Nichols said she doubts Marsha McLean really is beholden to nobody – like McLean says – because, “You get a little campaign financing, you feel obligated. Those people who give you money expect something from you. I’m not fundraising at all.”
And without specifics, she questioned the methods Bill Miranda, who was appointed over Nichols and 48 others in January 2017, used in running the Latino Chamber of Commerce.
“I read about how he ran the Spanish chamber,” she said. “I didn’t think he had the experience or the knowhow or education to run anything like that. If a person is going to open a place and they don’t know how to do that and that and that … You delegate, so you get people who know that expertise. I was a good delegator.”
She said that if elected, she would do what she understood former councilmember (and current candidate) TimBen Boydston did: thoroughly research an issue before voting on it. She cited Boydston’s commitment to studying the Laemmle Theatres project as an example.
“I would try to read and review and talk to other people before I’d vote on an upcoming project,” she said. “I might be run off, but at least they would have a voice.”
Then she started discussing some platform points.
•She wants to protect low-income residents from an increase in city property taxes, even though the county, not the city, assesses and collects taxes; and she wants to give voice regarding new developments such as the proposed Sand Canyon Resort. The city council in July authorized an environmental impact report for the project, which would turn part of the Sand Canyon Country Club into a hotel resort of 217 rooms and 27 villas.
“I don’t think everyone in Sand Canyon wants that in their area,” she said. “I know people that live in Sand Canyon. They wonder how that development is going to affect traffic.”
•She wants to a 45 mph speed limit on Sierra Highway. She told of watching traffic speed by as she waited at the bus stop at Sierra and Flying Tiger Drive.
“I think of little babies in strollers. They don’t know if you’re down low, how it affects you,” she said. “I use a scooter. I’m down low. I almost got hit on Flying Tiger and Sierra. They go so fast, those big trucks. I don’t mean semis. Those SUVs. They don’t look down. They look up, and they’re whizzing by. Not just me. Pedestrians. There’s a lot of foot traffic on Soledad, Sierra, Via Princessa. I’m sure there are a lot of other parts in the city, but I can’t name them.”
•She wants to tackle and drug and homeless problems by including recovered drug addicts and former homeless people in the solutions because, she reasoned, they might know something about those issues.
“All these agencies will be involved with finding a solution, but not any ex-homeless people,” she said. “If you watch the news in L.A., a lot of things are started by ex-homeless people. They know.”
Finally, Nichols addressed her chances of winning a seat, despite not fundraising beyond calling registered voters from a county list she purchased in 2016 and placing signs that she kept from two years ago.
She will make the rounds, including Wednesday’s candidate forum at The Oaks Club Valencia, the Oct. 8 forum at College of the Canyons and the Oct. 17 Canyon Country Advisory Committee meeting at the Mint Canyon Moose Lodge.
“I think my chances will be good if the affordable-housing and low-income people who don’t feel like they have a voice vote,” she said, “but you never know who’s going to vote.”