May 7, 2014
At first, I had no idea what to think when I learned about Malaysian-born Torrance resident Alex See.
I knew so little about him, compared to the other candidates whom I was researching, and it seemed to me that he was ill-prepared for his run for Torrance City Council. After all, he was on a business trip earlier this year, while other candidates were already prepping their campaigns with inaugural dinners.
In January, I invited him to come the school board meeting, along with other city council candidates. Even though he had been overseas at the time, and had just returned home the night before, Alex arrived at the school board meeting, and gave me the opportunity of meeting him. Sharing his concerns about education as well as greater civic engagement from the Asian-American community in Torrance, Alex a small businessman (which he conveniently advertised at the North Torrance Home Owners Association two weeks ago) as well as engineer, Alex See has been a city fixture for many years.
Unlike some of the younger candidates for office, as well as the more seasoned public officials, Alex See promotes a semblance of honor and respect, willing to listen to others, considering the key needs of small businesses and employers in a city where regulations, fees, and taxes can cause more harm than good. The fact that he took my calls and came to a public forum to speak with me was enough to win my vote.
Here are his answers to seven questions which I posed to him about himself, his campaign, and his plans once he gets elected:
1. Why are you running for city council this year? Did you ever plan on running for office before?
I am running for office because I want to give back to the community and to serve the city that my family and I call home. My family and I love living in Torrance because it is a diverse, well-balanced and safe community with an excellent school district. I have not seriously considered running until I read that that our mayor and most council members are encouraging diversity on the council to represent the city (ref. Daily Breeze’s article). For many years I have volunteered my time and resources to be an integral part of the success of this community. Therefore, I am running for Torrance City Council because I know that my unique background will add a different perspective to examining city issues and solutions.
2. You are a registered Republican. Why?
I am registered as a Republican because I believe in being fiscally responsible, small government, low taxes and family values.
3. Tell us about your prior professional/political experience and how they can help the City of Torrance?
I’ve served the Torrance Community as a Water Commissioner for 8 years. As a water commissioner, I have worked with fellow commissioners to ensure Torrance continues to provide low water rates (2nd lowest in the region), high quality and reliable potable water to its residents and businesses. I’ve also supported our amazing school district as a committee member on the TUSD Bonds Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, TUSD Facilities and Asset Review Committee and high school Site Council to ensure that our students have the proper means of gaining an education and skills to prepare them to enter the job market.
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.
We need to attract and retain businesses to increase revenue for the City. As a small business owner in Torrance I am acutely aware of the necessity to have a Government environment that respects and encourage businesses to come and stay in our city. I strongly endorse any efforts to be a friendly city in an increasingly unfriendly business state. I will always be open to ideas for streamlining the system. Our one-stop permitting center was an effort in that direction and while that adds to the convenience, we must go a step further to cut through the red tape our city produces. We live in the 21st century and online services and permitting should be available for the conveniences of all citizens and businesses. Improvement and revamp of City websites need to ensure residents are well informed and know the facts.
5. What concerns do you have about crime and public safety in Torrance.
I am deeply satisfied with our fantastic public safety services. Living in one of the safest cities in America provides my family and I the security that we do will never take for granted. However, in addition to the rising pensions of public workers, my main concern is the recent release of criminals due to AB 109. Although, I am confident that our police and public safety officials will do all that is necessary to continue to provide the protection that we are accustomed to.
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?
The men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect Torrance residents deserve to know that their hard work will benefit them in the future. It depends on what pension reform should look like. Pension reform is needed to prevent abuse and to make sure the system is sustainable. We need to incentives the best law enforcement candidates possible and Torrance residents deserve the best public safety officials available. If elected, I will work with the rest of the Council and the City Manager to make sure that we have the funds for a first-class police department that will not cut corners on the shoulders of the men and women who protect us.
7. How have residents and prospective voters responded to your campaign?
So far I have received a lot of positive feedback from the voters I have spoken with. Most like what I stand for, the work I have done for the community and share similar values. Like most candidates running for office, I have received the occasional voter who was either unaware of the June 3rd election or tend to have a general dislike of politics. All in all, I am greatly surprised and happy with all the support I have received and it encourages me to continue fighting for what I believe in, helping our city and citizens progress into a better tomorrow.
From private sector investment to public sector involvement, Alex See is worth seeing and voting for.
On June 3rd, please vote for Alex See for Torrance City Council
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.
Twitter -- @ArthurCSchaper