Position Seeking: City Council
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
I grew up in a musical family (my great grandfather was General George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Calvary Bandmaster). I learned to play trombone starting in the 4th grade, and performed through my law school years in the house band in the Roaring 20s section at Knotts Berry Farm (and I still pick up the horn once in a while and play today.) Currently I am a Board Member of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota (we have the second largest collection of Stradivari instruments in the world). Culturally, I have travelled to Outer Mongolia and my wife and family have had a relationship with several Mongolian nationals where they have visited us and we have visited them.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
The role of the City Council is to support, encourage and participate in the arts. Currently the City Council financially supports the Whittier Museum which is a repository of the history of Whittier and which is open to the public at no charge with special exhibits. The City also provides arts classes for adults and students for a nominal charge and is supportive of the Whittier Community Theatre, one of the longest running local theatre groups in Southern California. The City also helps to fund the Rio Hondo Symphony which makes no charge for admission and has four concerts a year. The City also has a vibrant Cultural Arts Commission (Whittier Night at the Hollywood Bowl, etc.) as well as an important Art In Public Places program.
Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?
It is important that the City encourage the arts in various forms. We all know about the studies that show that children learn better when they are challenged and stimulated by the various arts. It is important that the City work with the local school districts to promote arts in the schools. One important program we have is the Banner Program where we ask students to come up with ideas and designs which are then selected by a panel of judges and displayed on banners throughout Whittier. This program grows every year as more and more students participate. Importantly we need to continue all the above work that we are currently doing. This includes the Whittier Museum, the Whittier Art Gallery, the Shannon Center at Whittier College, and the Whittier Community Center Auditorium. For a community of our size, we have a long history of prioritizing and promoting the various arts.
Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?
I am not familiar with the statistic. But Southern California is a hot bed for the arts in light of the prominence of the entertainment industry and music, dance, acting, etc. that is part of that industry. To the extent that we can encourage this in Whittier, I will do so.