Alex Fisch hopes to retain Council seat

(Randall Michelson)

Alex Fisch is, of course, the incumbent on the ballot for City Council with this year’s elections. The former Mayor and current Council Member remains a popular figure with many, while he infuriates others. The life of a politician! Fisch is also a lawyer for the California Department of Justice.  

“My job primarily consists of enforcing laws that protect California’s natural resources and the environment,” he told the CCN. “I was previously a partner at a Century City law firm, where I did corporate bankruptcy work for eleven years.  For the past four years, I have served on the city council and as Culver City’s mayor (2020-2021).”

Fisch’s introduction to politics came through his interest in cities.

“I began to figure out how this city worked and where it was coming up short in meeting the needs of residents and preparing for the future,” he said. “It seemed obvious to me that a tremendous amount of change was coming to the region and that there would be opportunities to harness that change for the public good while addressing big regional problems, so I ran for a city council seat.”

The Council Member believes that his first term, taking in that year as Mayor, has gone very well.

“There is conflict because we are taking on important issues and challenging entrenched interests,” he said. “City staff did an exemplary job in the face of enormous challenges during the pandemic, and I am proud to have played a role as council member and mayor in empowering staff to explore innovative ideas and more fully serve our community.  By working with experts and organizations–from regional to national–I have helped make Culver City a leader in transit, environment, and housing and have given Culver City an outsized influence in solving regional problems. This has led to the city receiving federal, state, and regional funding to update infrastructure, produce affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and both prepare for and act to mitigate climate breakdown. We have also set the city up to receive much more of these types of grants in the future.”

Fisch lists his “successful effort to build out an array of major new city services” among his biggest achievements to date.

“Most recently, the creation of a new Human Services Department and the conversion of two motels to more than 70 transitional and permanent supportive homes,” he said. “This new department will eventually provide a comprehensive, cost-effective, robust, and regionally integrated non-police response for mental crises, homeless outreach, and much more.  Measure RE, which I created and voters passed in 2020, has saved the city from cuts in staff and services during COVID and has substantially resolved the pension crisis. We provided much more stability for Culver City’s renters with rent control, renter protections and, during the pandemic, rent subsidies. I am proud to have been part of the majority who fought to phase out oil drilling in Culver City. Following our model, LA County has moved to shut down their portions of the oil field and the state passed an oil drilling setback law.  I could not be more pleased that what we have accomplished in this area has surpassed my 2018 campaign promise to better regulate the Inglewood Oil Field.”

The issue of homelessness remains one of the key issues on his platform this time around.

“I hope to (1) expand housing options, especially affordable housing and housing for middle class people, and reduce homelessness with dedicated outreach and safe shelter,” he said. “(2) ensure public safety for all by investing in unarmed crisis intervention and outreach teams, creating a vibrant and welcoming public realm, and using public health approaches to solve public health problems; and (3) use local power and regional cooperation to improve our local environment (including finishing the job of shutting down oil drilling in Culver City), reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and expand our transportation options.”

Fisch accepts the criticism aimed at the progressive majority on the City Council (completed by Mayor Daniel Lee and Council Member Yasmine-Imani McMorrin), but believes in the work that they are doing.

“The progressive majority is made up of three very different people, each with unique ideas, background, education, and experiences,” he said. “Getting any three Council members to support an item often requires compromise, and I am proud both to have introduced and passed some bold initiatives and to have helped all of my colleagues with theirs when I believed that they advanced the best interests of the City.”

Ultimately, he believes that they are doing a good job during a time when the goalposts have shifted.

“There have been periods when a good council member could just cut ribbons and make sure the potholes were filled and the streetlights worked,” Fisch said. “We still need to maintain core municipal services and infrastructure, but the world has come to Culver City. The Council must now directly address issues such as climate change, economic inequality, mental health and substance abuse, and historic discrimination by race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual identity, etc. We have made great progress but are all still working hard to rise to the challenge.”

Recently, Fisch received criticism when he referenced a lack of empathy in some quarters towards the unhoused population in terms that some interpreted as insensitive towards survivors of the Holocaust, mentioning some people’s desire to march them off to camps.

“From my own family history and personal experiences with antisemitism, I’ve always believed that ‘never again’ means that we have an obligation to stand up against dehumanizing rhetoric directed at any vulnerable group,” he said. “From knocking on thousands of doors and monitoring social media, I know that some people have become accepting of very dehumanizing language and policy proposals about our homelessness crisis. The United States has built camps to confine ‘undesirables’ before—just visit Manzanar and read the plaques to see one such instance. I stand firm that we must not repeat these profound mistakes.”

The campaign has so far been going great, Fisch said in conclusion.

“Actually talking to people one on one and in groups about their hopes, fears, and dreams has been a wonderful reminder of what I love about this City,” he said. “We have a very special community and many people are excited by our bright future.”

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