Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Torrance City Council Races: Heidi Ashcraft

Heidi Ashcraft
Heidi Ashcraft caught my attention precisely because she has served on the Torrance School Board as well as a recent appointee to the Torrance City Council.

Not only is she experienced, but her dedication to Torrance education cannot be ignored, including her service on the SCROC oversight board. With state funding about to end for the regional occupation programs, Torrance needs able leadership to ensure ongoing safeguards in funding for vocational training programs.

I wanted to vet her opinions on key issues facing the city council, particularly the pension issue, along with her values and her vision for the city.

1. Why are you running for city council this year? Did you ever plan on running for office before?

#1.  I’m running for Torrance City Council because this is the first time in the history of Torrance there are 4 council seats up for election, a new mayor and new city clerk, this is a critical election!  I have volunteered in Torrance in many capacities over 36 years, first with my children in their sports, PTA and scouting, then on many non profit boards such as the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation Advisory Board and Torrance Coordinating Board and Torrance Chamber PAC.   For 14 years I have been on the Torrance South Bay YMCA Board of Managers, elected as that organization’s first woman Chair of the Board serving in that capacity for 3 years.  In 1995 I  was first elected to the Torrance Board of Education and re-elected two more times serving a total of 12 years, I did not seek a 4th term. I had the honor of being appointed to the Torrance City Council in December 2013. I believe I have the governance experience necessary, at a time of great turnover, to lead as a Torrance City Council Member. I love this city and I want to help it thrive.

2.  You are a registered Republican. Why?

#2.  I believe in small government, personal responsibility, supporting the Constitution, less taxation and being fiscally conservative, always maintaining a balanced budget, with reserves.

3. Tell us about your prior professional/political experience and how they can help the City of Torrance?

#3.  My husband and I have owned our business, Ashcraft Design, since 1986.  I am the Chief Financial Officer of the company. For 12 years I served on the Torrance Board of Education acting as President, Vice President and Clerk several times.  When I was first elected the budget was approximately $200 million. During my 12 years on the Board hard financial decisions had to be made as funding became less and less. The budget was always balanced.  When I left the Board of Education the budget was down to about $165 million.  I had the opportunity to research, interview and hire 2 Superintendents for TUSD.

      For 11 years I served on the So. Calif. Regional Occupational Center Board of Education (SCROC or So Cal ROC).  First as a Board Member representing Torrance Board of Education then as an appointed Board Member representing adult students and high school students outside the City of Torrance and the JPA.  Several times over the 11 years on this Board I was President, Vice President and Clerk.  The budget has always been balanced in times of funding cuts and while I was President of the Board of Education 2012-2013, all debt was retired.  I headed the Superintendent search, interview and hiring of Dr. Christine Hoffman for SCROC in 2004.  It was announced in Dec. 2012 funding for SCROC would be eliminated.  I went to Senator Ted Lieu in January 2013 and garnered his support in Sacramento to get the attention of Gov. Brown to understand the importance of SCROC to students, businesses that partner with the school and the entire South Bay.  Because of these efforts a 2 year reprieve (termed maintenance of effort) was made. 
I have been constantly involved in the process of “saving SCROC”, visiting Sacramento and speaking with legislators, lobbyists and the State Budget Analyst’s Office.   I was appointed to the Torrance City Council Dec. 17, 2013.  In January 2014 I asked for the support of my fellow council members and got it to form a committee to work with the Torrance Chamber of Commerce and South Bay Cities COG to bring awareness to all South Bay City Chambers of Commerce and business community of the South Bay of the funding issue and closure of SCROC.  Immediately the South Bay Cities COG became involved and is working diligently with the entire South Bay letting Sacramento know SCROC cannot be lost.  Our efforts have been positive and we look forward to new information soon.

All debt retired? Wow! We need that kind of balanced budgeting in the city.

 4. What measures, reforms, and policies would you implement on a city level to bring in more business and increase economic activity in the City of Torrance.

#4.  I have been endorsed by the Torrance Chamber of Commerce PAC and BizFed PAC.

BizFed is the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a cross section of entities including Chambers of Commerce, trade groups and economic development organizations.  The city needs to be proactive in pursuing new businesses as well as maintaining the many businesses we have. The Torrance Department of Economic Development needs to be expanded in order to do this. There are key individuals in Torrance and the So. Bay with amazing credentials that already work with the business communities in other countries and states that can be used as consultants as “bridge builders” for our city.   As a Council Member I would personally visit businesses to determine what Torrance is doing right and what Torrance is doing wrong to get or retain their business.  I would also have a strong relationship with Sacramento, as I have for SCROC, and work to change the business climate in Calif.

 5. What concerns do you have about crime and public safety in Torrance.

#5. Torrance is the 10th safest city with like populations in the nation.  Our police department is proactive and our citizens like it this way.  There has been an increase in crime in Torrance which is cause for concern.  Resident involvement in making the police aware of suspicious activity is key to fighting neighborhood burglaries.  AB109, the early release of criminals, has had an effect on Torrance.  Torrance Police Dept. has staffed up to address this issue by visiting those who have been released and moved to Torrance, within 2 days of their residence here to let them know if they choose to stay here they have to be good citizens and will be watched. I am totally supportive of police and fire departments having the equipment, resources and training needed to keep our city safe.  These men and women put their lives on the line day and night for the residents of Torrance and I am grateful for them.

 6. There are growing revelations about the city's massive pension liabilities -- $400 million, an online reports confirm that at least 600 city employees out of 200 are earning at least $100,000 a year in total compensation (per 2012 data). What reforms or steps do you support to deal with these massive pension liabilities?

#6.  I believe pensions along with salaries should be handled in negotiations.  I will not change an employee’s pension from what that employee signed on for at his/her time of hire, that is a contract that should be kept. The City of Torrance has begun pension reform for new hires and that should continue, with employee contributions and age adjustments to retirement.  Pensions are a concern for Torrance as well as all cities.  There are those who want residents to think Torrance is on the “brink of bankruptcy”.  It is not.  We always have to vigilant with our money as we have been. May 1, 2014 MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE wrote about Torrance and its state of economy with the loss of Toyota.  It states “The city’s stable assessed value (AV) should not change significantly with Toyota’s departure.  The city’s assessed valuation is $24.9 billion for 2014.  Its assessed valuations stayed healthy throughout the economic downturn, declining only one year before resuming modest, but stable growth…moveable capital associated with the employees, could decline somewhat but not enough to materially harm the city’s already strong tax base.”  I am proud of Torrance and will work to continue the reforms with salaries and pensions as needed to keep Torrance the great city it is.

 7. How have residents and prospective voters responded to your campaign?

#7.  I have been blessed with a wonderful group of volunteers, more than 35 that have walked their precincts, and many others working in other ways to see me elected.  I have been endorsed by:  Torrance Police Association and Fire Fighters Association (I have not received money from them); Torrance Chamber of Commerce PAC; BizFed PAC, Mayor Frank Scotto, Former Mayors Dee Hardison and Ken Miller; Former Council Members:  O’Donnell, Witkowsky, Rossberg; Numark, Nakano, Lieu, Messerlian, Applegate, Guyton; Torrance School Board Members:  Steffen, Lee, Wermers, Deutsch, Ragins; Supervisor Don Knabe; Councilman Gene Barnett; Former School Board Members: Sargent, Ernst, Kuwahara, Driskill; Former Torrance Chamber Chairs:  Wolowicz, Oberholzer, Frew; Former City Treasurer Linda Barnett. Too many residents and voters to write down. My husband, Dan Ashcraft, is working very hard as my campaign manager.   I am extremely grateful for all of the support I have been given and continue to receive.
Ashcraft's wide array of endorsements is nothing to sniff at.

I do not agree her affirmations that the city of Torrance is on firm fiscal standing. With over 600 employees taking in $100k a year, the pension liabilities pressing on the city simply cannot be ignored. Still, her record on fiscal discipline while serving on the Torrance School Board should not be ignored, either.


  1. Earlier this year the Wall Stree Journal listed Torrance as being one of the cities being in financial trouble ie. bankruptcy when the next bubble hits. The Torrance pensions are critically under funded. We don't need somebody who does an ostrich imitation (buries her head in the sand) on this issue. She is a Torrance insider and it will be business as usual if she is elected. When an effort was underway in 2004 to recall mayor Dan Walker she attended a benefit in his honor. She wants you to forget that she was a Dan Walker supporter. Also in 2003 when she was running for her third term on the Torrance school board the issue of rebuilting Hull Middle School came up. She talked like the decision to rebuilt had the green light. Shortly after the election the truth came out that the district didn't have the $6 million to rebuilt Hull even though the voters had approved an $85 milllion bond issue around 1998 or so. Having served as the president of the board of education and vice president etc. she should have known in the fall of 2003 that the district didn't have the money. She either lied in the debates or she was clueless on the funding problem. Hull was rebuilt at a cost of over $40 million after the passage of the $450 million bond in 2008. The actual cost was about 7 times the cost she quoted in 2003. Based on that record I have to question her remarks on the financial viability of the city of Torrance. She desribes herself as the chief financial officer of her husband's company. Give me a break. This is a family business and all corporations need to have a treasurer. Her being the CFO has no relationship to her being a fiscal hawk. Writing and signing checks and knowing where the bank is doesn't qualify you to be on the city council. Lots of people in Torrance would qualify under that measure. In her campaign mailer she claims responsibility for TUSD having a balanced budget. Newsflash - A school districts is not allowed to run deficits under state law or they end up in receivership like Compton Unified did a few years ago. One last question, she states she is a Republican and makes herself sound like a Tea Party member then why does today's mailer from Kurt Weideman (a Democrat) list her endorsement? She wil do and say anything to get elected. Torrance can do far better than her. There is Aurelio Mattucci, Milton Herring, Charlotte Svalos, Dr. Tabakian, Liliaini Kimmel etc. We don't need Heidi and her pandering to be seating in city hall and hiding her head in the sand as this city joins Detroit, San Bernadino, Stockton etc. in bankruptcy.

  2. Disgusting to see various Torrance candidates willfully appear on the blog of a supporter of the racist Donald Sterling--the same fringe blogger who engages in the character assassination of their fellow Torrance candidate who happens to be anti-war. Nice to see you idiots have leaned your right-wing talk radio lessons so well while exhibiting the craven stupidity of rookies acting like deer in the headlights.

    1. These candidates are racist scum just like the author. Any candidate who kisses the rump of this author is nuts. Goodrich is not anti-war he is a terrorist supporting thug. I also was against the war. Goodrich encouraged people to attack Americans. He is as bad as the terrorists. Goodrich mailed crap to my apartment with a pro military biography. He is scary to bold face lie about himself. Oh and he is friends with these right wing republicans too!

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  4. Another example of a poor slave following Huey like a puppy. Yes Mr huey I will do what you say. art is a special extremist. We need new leaders and not seniors who caused this mess. I am voting for the young kid Navarro, Paulson, Tabakian, and Mattucci. Alex See is a wannabe republican.

  5. I love my haters, even when they hate without a cause. Keep the comments clean, but make your case as best as you can. Thanks!

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