Get to know your City Council candidate Kiran Rami a little more through Patch's Q&A session:
Name: Kiran Rami
Educational background: Master in English Literature and Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching English
Current job: Professor of English and English as a Second Language, Former Immigration Officer
Children?: Three children: Rajvi, Manav and Havni
How long have you lived in Cerritos? Since 1994.
What is your favorite book? Barack Obama: Dreams from My Father
What is something unique the public doesn’t know about you?
I am a woman with lots of courage and determination. I am an ordinary woman with extraordinary achievements. I am a tenacious achiever. I have zero tolerance for double dealing and fraud. I get things done and if something doesn't make sense and is going in a wrong way, I would not stand for it.
Why are you running for a spot on the on the city council?
I have a passion for public service. I have been a beneficiary of city’s excellent schools, servicesand programs. I am now ready to give back my services from a higher platform. Besides, thisprogressive city has been run by few veterans for long enough. The suave Voters deserve anoption- fresh face, new energy, new ideas and young blood.
What specifically qualifies you to represent Cerritos and its citizens?
I am a community-minded mom of three young children. Since my arrival in the city, I have involved myself in community services (volunteer, counselor, booster club president, advisor). The economic environment is much different now, and I have plans for improvement in the basic services for our residents.
What can you do to make sure that Cerritos maintains its title as “America’s Most Business Friendly City?”
The city’s policies relative to the business community is well in place. I will listen to businessowners, their needs, concerns, and suggestions on how the city can help the businesses thrive and expand for their own profit as well as city's. The sustained success of its commerce is vital to the city’s overall growth and welfare of the citizenry.
Do you think Cerritos should participate in the Rose Parade next year?
Of course! The float brings in pride and publicity. Pragmatically, it is better if the cost does not come out of the budget. I prefer a float bankrolled by a sponsor or built by a non-profit organization with community’s help. City of Downey is a good model in this regard.
What do you think are the city’s most pressing issues to date?
Average citizens want basics; neater and safer neighborhoods, safer school surroundings, and efficiently run public facilities. Lately the home burglaries are on the rise. We need to nip this in the bud. The Cerritos Center for Performing Arts has been losing money for years. We need to get programs for adults with special needs.
Do you have any pledges or promises you would like to make to Cerritos residents if you are elected to the council?
When elected, I will bring in a young housewife’s perspective to the city council. I will be easily accessible, responsive, and accountable. I will practice and advocate prudence and pragmatism in all city dealings.
What’s your opinion on cities balancing their books by issuing huge fines for infractions suchas rolling stops, overnight parking, and failing to maintain proper “property aesthetics?”
It is a bad idea to count on revenue generated this way. It almost sounds “being evil”. This type of revenue is neither stable nor predictable. It eventually harms the residents' goodwill and morale.
In the aftermath of the Bell scandal, what’s your opinion on having a more “open government”—having all city contracts, all government employee salaries and meetings with lobbyist publicly posted online. What are your thoughts on this kind of transparency?
Any government is by the people and for the people. The city funds and resources belong to the residents. They have the right to know how these are spent and where. There should not be any skeletons in the closet. The city officials’ compensation, perks, retirement benefits, should all be a public record and therefore available to residents. In fact, transparency is critical to the success of democratic process. In the long run it keeps the city out of lots of trouble.
Despite California's economic state and possible school budget cuts, where do you think the idea of Cerritos keeping a "park-like appearance" fits in terms of priority?
We have to look at our budget and our spending plans. In these hard economic times and money squeeze we have to separate wants from the needs. We have to continuously prioritize our plans in the order of our needs. The basic services and programs, such as, neighborhood safety, school surroundings, neat neighborhoods, adaptive and senior programs come first.
It seems like all cities have to cut costs in this time of recession. Where do you think these cuts should be made in terms of the Cerritos budget?
We have to be frugal. We have to optimize city resources. Scrutinize and cut waste in operating expenses. Eliminate redundancy. See if the tasks can be accomplished by temporaries/part-timers as opposed to full permanent/full-timers. Review the total compensation (including perks, vacations, retirement) of city officials and lobbyists with an objective of making them competitive and not out of line. Last, but not least address under utilized and/or unprofitably running city facilities, such as the performing arts center.