For too long, the political scope in this country has been perceived by many as driven by the agendas of those in power. Even here in Culver City, there is a feeling of disconnect between the current city council and its constituents
But Heather Wollin is looking to bring a whole different approach to the Culver City council: one that focuses on listening to the people.
“I am very much not into the typical politics like everyone else,” Wollin explained to the News.
“When I say something, I mean it. I am not going to sit here and fool you into thinking I think one way, and then just say ‘politics.’”
Wollin is a longtime member of the Culver City community, growing up from El Rincon to Culver Middle and High to West Los Angeles College, and has chosen to remain in Culver City to this day.
“I am very dedicated to this city; obviously I have grown up here and after getting married, I am still here,” Wollin said.
“I want to give back to the city that I grew up in.”
To that end, Wollin is approaching her campaign in a unique way: not with a traditional agenda in mind, but with open ears.
“I feel that the current city council has been out of touch for awhile, and they stopped listening, and that’s one of my key platforms,” Wollin reiterated.
“I want to listen and I want to learn.”
Wollin believes this is in part attributed to members on the council putting pressure on themselves to know about more things than is reasonable.
No one should be an expert in everything, there’s no way,” Wollin claimed. “So I think by not pretending to be an expert, people can listen to other people from both sides and come with reasonable solutions, and maybe solutions that people haven’t thought of yet.”
While this train of thinking has been influenced by the rhetoric in recent months, Wollin recalled that this commitment to an open mind comes from an interview she did with former Culver City councilmember Carol Gross for a high school newspaper article.
“We were talking, and I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but at the end, we got talking about her as a woman on the city council, and one of the things that she said was ‘go in and fight for what you want, but always listen.’”
Wollin has taken that mantra to heart, and says that meeting played a big part in her entering the fray. She hopes to inspire young girls the same way that her interview with Gross impacted her.
“Growing up, I never thought there was something that I couldn’t do because I was a girl, and I definitely would like to be that role model.”
While she does have ideas of her own, she believes her role as a member of the council is not to impose her own ideas, but to see if those ideas work with the people.
“I definitely have some ideas for different things, but at the same time my idea may not be the right fit,” Wollin began.
“Having that dialogue and listening to people is really going to be the key point in making policy that does better for our city and promotes growth and prosperity and everything else that we love about our city while maintaining its character.
“So while I have ideas, I am willing to listen and see why they may or may not be a good fit, or maybe there is another key component that I am not thinking of.”
One of the more controversial aspects of Wollin’s campaign is not of Wollin’s own doing, but of the support she is receiving from the Culver City Police Officer’s Assocation, which has been the center of scrutiny in recent weeks. Wollin is supportive of the Culver City Police Department, and believes it is important to seperate the national stigma from local experience.
“As far as our police department, I think that they do a fantastic job with public safety, and public safety should be something we should treat as a top priority, because nobody wants to live or work or open a business in a city they don’t feel safe in.”
However, Wollin does admit that she has seen the other side of the fence, but says that we need to step back and look at the bigger picture.
“Personally, I have had friends that have had run ins with Culver City Police, one that was very recent,” Wollin said
“It’s good to pause and to think things through, and one of the things that I have maintained and said is that ‘is our police department perfect?’ No, they are not, but they know they are not, and they work harder everyday to be better.”
Wollin also believes that recent events have stirred up people’s memories of a racist past, but believes this is not fair.
“This isn’t the police department of 30 years ago, this isn’t the police department of 20 years ago. We have a very young police department, and I think they are doing a phenomenal job.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Wollin is an unconditional supporter of the police. While she doesn’t agree with the negative persona that many have attributed to CCPD, she understands that things could be better.
“Is there room for improvement? Always, we should never stop striving to improve,” Wollin said.
“But as far as the things that others have said and made them out to be, I don’t think they are accurate and I don’t think it is factual, and I think a lot of people are twisting things and bringing Culver City’s racist past. Fifty years ago has no bearing on today, it is a vastly different department.”
At the end of the day, while Wollin has many ideas to make the city better — as all of the candidates do — Wollin would want her legacy to be about what she preaches: listening to the people.
“We all need to work together. It’s not us versus them. It’s not left versus right, it’s not up versus down. It’s us working together as a community and listening to each other. Right now, we’re all so divided that it’s hard to keep the bigger picture, but I hope people would look back and say ‘she listened, and she did her best.’”