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Disappointing Turnout in Studio City Neighborhood Council Elections

A total of 292 votes were cast, that’s about $18.50 spent by the council for every vote cast.

The Studio City Neighborhood Council voting yielded a disappointing 292 total votes—and everyone who was on the council was re-elected to their positions.

The votes were counted after polls closed at 8:30 p.m. and it took about 90 minutes to count the ballots before the Empower LA revealed the results.

Among the contested races, the Residential Homeowners winners were John Walker, Lisa Sarkin, Gail Steinberg and Denise Welvang, who were all on the Council in the past.

In the Residential Renters race, previous Council members Ron Taylor and Lana Shackelford, and Jane Drucker (who previously was on the Council) won their seats.

In the At-Large race, Lisa Cahan Davis, who was the Outreach committee chairperson, won with 180 votes against 83 votes for Sam Humeid, who manages a local medical marijuana distribution business in Studio City.

Youth Candidate Pasha Vafaee, who ran unopposed, received no votes (you had to be between the ages of 15 and 18 to vote), and although no one was on the ballot, he did not win that race, according to the polling manager at the scene. The voting was at Walter Reed Middle School.

Both City Controller Wendy Greuel and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian—who are residents of Studio City—came in to cast their votes. Two famous musicians, three recognizable actors, a major cartoon voice and a notable award-winning chef were also seen casting their votes.

Council members Rita Villa, Lisa Sarkin, Gail Steinberg and Richard Niederberg were at the scene during vote counting.

“I am terribly disappointed by the turnout and I don’t think that stakeholders who were not adults in 2000 before Neighborohood Councils,don't seem to know how important they are,” said Lisa Sarkin. “And I think we need to be more involved with the schools.”

Villa said, “It is disappointing that we didn’t get more people out with all the money spent, but I understand that there was not a major issue to draw the community out. I am grateful for the people who did participate.  I think that in this next cycle of my time on the Council I will work to reach out and enlist more youth participation.”

Not only did $5,400 in council money get spent promoting the elections (including an ad on Patch and other media), but council members spent private money on flyers for their slates, spent time at the Studio City Farmers Market, walked their neighborhoods and businesses, and held a forum to discuss their candidacy.

That resulted in each vote cast costing about $18.50 (not counting the private money involved).

“It cost $18 a vote,” Niederberg said. “It’s nuts! With all the money and labor involved, you would have thought we would have had more people turn out.”

(For entire election results click here.)

Alex Daniels September 22, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Maybe dealing with REAL issues such as Studio City's broken streets sidewalks, filthy garbage laden streets and sidewalks, outrages water rate increases, endless apartment expansion, broken schools and over pensioned and paid city workers...Then you will get "real" people to come out and really start care about what our neighborhood councils do. In the meantime, enjoy playing "house"....Respectfully
Michael McCue September 22, 2012 at 01:06 PM
@Louise Randolph, Thanks for the hearty laugh your comment gave me...yes, I'm not in the same "league" as Ben Neumann, for which I am grateful. Thank you for the compliment. But, if you really believe that Neumann has even the slightest of chances of becoming the next mayor of Los Angeles, then you need a reality check. Hilarious! Angelenos would never elect a bully who is such a lightweight (morbid obesity aside...) on the issues, and who has a record of rarely showing up to meetings, and a proven record showing that he does not understand the Rules of Order, the Code of Conduct, etc...which is what made your comment so funny. I'm not sure if you meant to be funny, or if you were trying to be snide, but whatever the case, thanks for your comment (it gave me a hearty laugh this AM) and please know...Neumann has as much chance of getting elected mayor of LA as he does getting elected dog catcher...which is zero. He is a political lightweight (the only thing lightweight about him) who has no idea of how to provide real leadership. Just the thought alone of a bully like Ben getting elected is enough to keep me laughing for days. If you saw the tape of that meeting, then you saw all the stakeholders who opposed Ben's actions, passionately supported me, and you saw the DONE parliamentarian who kept telling Ben that he was violating the Rules of Order. That's enough right there to guarantee that he won't be elected to higher office. Thanks for the laugh! I nededed that!
Michael McCue September 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM
@Geoffrey Going, please pay no attention to political operatives like Richard Panotia. Neumann will always have enough ring-kissers on his payroll to make self-serving comments on his behalf in social media like Patch. I don't agree that the whole NC system should be dumped....we have many great NC's all over the city which are not run the way the SCNC is...but...what you could do is apply to get the SCNC de-certified with DONE. The vote on ending term limits just before the election is cause enough alone to initiate such an action, not to mention the many other reasons you could cite. The SCNC's snub to you...their shunning of you as a newcomer, is proof that they have no manners, no grace, no compassion, no class, and is also proof that they have real reason to fear an honest outsider like yourself. Don't let them bother you in the slightest. Go to meetings and speak out. They hate that, but democracy loves it. Keep going, and follow your passion. Good Luck to you, and again, don't sweat Neumann's ring-kissers and operatives who will always try to discredit an honest citizen like yourslef. Good Luck to you!
Louise Randolph September 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM
wow I just have seen the responses. NC is about community and neighborhood. Can't we get along?
Michael McCue September 26, 2012 at 04:42 AM
What NC are you talking about, Louise? That's certainly not what the SCNC is about. Still can't figure out where you're coming from with your comments (satire?). First Niederberg and Ben Neumann are "power players" and now our Studio City NC is all about community and neighborhood. Didn't you read Geoffrey Going's comments about how they treated him? Didn't you read the LA Weekly article about their previous underhanded power plays and manipulations? Or are you dreaming? Can't figure you out because your comments are so out of touch. I know that what you say is what NC's are SUPPOSED to be about...but Studio City certainly isn't about the things you mentioned. But thankfully... many NC's ARE about community and neighborhood, and several were given awards at the LA Congress of Neighborhood Councils held on Saturday at City Hall. When the award winners were announced...Studio City was NOT among them....but Sherman Oaks NC WAS...congrats to Jill, Jay, and the great members of the SONC...they're doing a great job! Wish it were so in Studio City...right next door, but a world away...(like Louise's comments). Still laughing about Neumann, the "power player!" Hilarious!

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