Former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver made his run for the Board of Supervisors official Tuesday, saying he wants to represent L.A. County's Third District to address issues ranging from foster care to public transportation to the Sheriff's Department.
Shriver, 59, made his announcement at Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades, where he was joined by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor and former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine. His sister and former California first lady Maria Shriver also attended the event.
Despite being the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy, Shriver told reporters he is a political outsider.
"You know, I didn't run for office 'til I was 50," Shriver said. "I had careers in other things and I approach these jobs from an outsider's perspective. I don't feel I have my career in them."
Shriver is the fourth candidate to declare for a seat that will be vacated when Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is termed out later this year. Also running are former state legislator Sheila Kuehl, West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, and former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich. The Westside district stretches from Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley.
County supervisors wield tremendous power as they control a $25 billion budget. Their responsibilities include overseeing jail inmates, the mentally ill, and children in the foster care system. Supervisors also serve as members of the Metro Board of Directors.
In his announcement, Shriver said he would support citizen oversight of the Sheriff's Department — supervisors only control the department's budget — as well as a point person on foster care and a rail line into LAX. He would also support moving the weekly Board of Supervisors meetings to various parts of the county. The meetings are currently held at downtown's Hall of Administration.
"As I've been going to the meetings the last three or four months, it doesn't seem to me that [supervisors] hear from a lot of people," Shriver said.
Asked what it in his background would show voters he has what it takes to tackle L.A. County's complex issues, Shriver pointed to his work with DATA, a non-governmental organization he founded with U2's Bono to bring social equality to Africa.
"Complex matters need to be rendered into something simple for me and for the public to understand them," Shriver said.
The Shriver campaign is being run by Bill Carrick, the same consultant who led Mayor Eric Garcetti to victory last year. The campaign will need to raise several million dollars to communicate with the district's two million residents in the primary, Carrick said.
Shriver served on the Santa Monica City Council from 2004-12 and was mayor in 2010. The mayor is chosen by the council members, who are all elected at-large.
As Shriver announced his candidacy, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor and a former mayor, Judy Abdo, issued statements saying they are supporting Kuehl.
The primary is in June. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in November. The Board of Supervisor races are non-partisan.