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Kinsman wants the City to live within its means

By BARBARA DIAMOND

This is the sixth in a series of one-on-one interviews with City Council candidates, speaking for and about themselves.

City Council candidate Cheryl Kinsman wants to put her mouth where her money is.

Kinsman, a certified public accountant, is seeking election to the City Council because she doesn’t like the way the taxpayers’ money is being spent. Taxpayers have to live within their means and so should the city, according to Kinsman. 

“I don’t approve of the way the current Council is using our money,” said Kinsman, “We have a huge city budget, close to 100 million dollars a year. We need to allocate money to the things that we should be doing, and not to anything that increases the city’s indebtedness. We already have enough taxes. We already have enough debt.” 

Kinsman opposes the proposed one-cent sales tax increase to fund utility undergrounding along Laguna Canyon Road, when the City has an unfunded pension debt. 

“We owe 58 million dollars right now today on our pension plans, and we’re paying seven percent interest on that.” said Kinsman. “That is like having a credit card on which you pay the minimum due and maybe a little bit more and the balance keeps going up. We are told that the interest will pay for the bond, but sales taxes will only cover the interest, not the principle.

“My younger son, Nick, is 24. If we burden the next generation with a 30-year-bond, he will be paying for it until he is 54. His older brother, Josh, would be 60. It’s not fair.” 

Kinsman questioned why the Council doesn’t upgrade the fire stations if it is really worried about fire safety. 

“It is pretty obvious that Station 4 in South Laguna is in way worse condition than the others, so I would tend to start there and see if it needs to be relocated,” Kinsman said. “I know there is an empty lot across from the [Community] garden. Maybe if we move the fire station to a bigger site, the garden could also be moved.”

If elected, Kinsman’s second priority would be the aging infrastructure that she said poses a danger to the ocean due to sewer spills.

“All the sewage from North Laguna flows directly to the North Coast Interceptor in Bluebird Canyon,” Kinsman said. “It goes from there to the Force Main that runs along Coast Highway, which carries all of Laguna’s sewage to the South Orange County Wastewater Authority facility. If it breaks, we have a disaster for our ocean.”

“We can’t fix it because we don’t have a parallel line to divert the sewage in the main, even to see what it looks like. So we wait until the sewer breaks, and we have the mother of all sewer spills into the ocean? We need to work on our infrastructure and that’s one reason I’m running for Council.”

Issues related to the homeless population are Kinsman’s third priority.

“Laguna has become a destination resort for the homeless,” said Kinsman, who has expressed the same view at forums. “It is time that other cities in Orange County begin taking responsibility for a fair proportion of them.”

In the meantime: “We need more boots on the ground, at least two more patrol officers, one walking downtown and one on a bicycle.” 

The 2018 election is not Kinsman’s first rodeo. 

Kinsman wants the City

Click on photo for larger image

Cheryl Kinsman

Her father, Ab Brown, served three terms as mayor of Riverside. She was the only one of his three daughters who participated in his election campaigns.

“When I saw what he went through, I swore I would never, ever run for office,” said Kinsman.

The only high school student in the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, Kinsman planned to major in music at Scripps College, a women’s college in Claremont.

However, her father convinced her that music would never pay the bills and recommended an accounting major. The only hitch was that Scripps had no accounting major. Arrangements were made for young Miss Brown to attend accounting classes at what was then called Claremont Men’s College across the street from Scripps. 

“I was the only girl,” she said with a grin.

It was there that she met her future husband, Michael. They married the day after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he pursued his doctorate at the Stanford Business School, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Golden Gate University. She worked at an accounting firm for the required two years to qualify as a certified public accountant. 

The couple returned to Southern California in 1975. 

“We moved to Laguna Beach because my family had Trailer 64B at El Morro Trailer Park for 55 years and I loved it,” she said. “And Michael didn’t care.”   

Her first brush with Laguna politics came as president of the North Laguna Community Association.

“Dayworkers were an issue congregating on residential neighborhood corners, and we came up with a solution that is still in effect at the job site at which there are restrooms and fair hiring practices,” said Kinsman.

She was appointed in 1993 to the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee. In 1995, Kinsman was appointed to the Laguna Beach Planning Commission. She served on the commission until 2000, when she ran for a seat on the City Council at the urging of the late Kathleen Blackburn. 

“She was my mentor,” said Kinsman.

During her two terms on the City Council, Kinsman also served on the El Toro Reuse Authority that was ultimately successful in preventing a commercial airport to replace the Marine Air Base. She was appointed to the council sub-committee with Jane Egly and City Manager John Pietig, tasked to keep a full-service hospital in town when South Coast Medical Center was put up for sale.

“We were told by everybody, including other councilmembers, that it was a lost cause, but we did it,” said Kinsman.

Kinsman subsequently served on the Hospital Advisory Committee, a five-year state requirement to oversee the quality of operations.

Following her terms on the Council, Kinsman has served as the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach’s Treasurer, participated financially in the acquisition of a canine officer, and as auditor for the Laguna Beach High School PTA.

Currently, she is on the board of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and on the Laguna Beach County Water District Commission. 

As for another term on the council: “I’ve done this job before,” Kinsman said. “I know how to do it. There is no learning curve for me. The money that belongs to the taxpayers is entrusted to the City Council to spend wisely. I believe we can do that without raising taxes and without borrowing any more money.”