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Q&A Profile: City Council Candidate Kiran Rami

Kiran Rami, candidate for the March 8 City Council election, shares her ideas on how to make Cerritos a better place to live.

Get to know your City Council candidate Kiran Rami a little more through Patch's Q&A session:

Name: Kiran Rami

Age: 48

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

Married? Single.

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.

Christopher F. "Chris" Fuentes March 01, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Ron & Cindy, with all due respect, we must all of us strive to get past the unproductive partisan bickering that has so hobbled our state and federal government. I believe there is dignity and purpose in every job. My work is about dealing with people, interfacing with government agencies, negotiating contracts and meeting budgets in order to bring about location filming projects, I am proud of the work I do. Here is a link to the Location Managers Guild of America of which I am a memeber: http://www.locationmanagers.org/cms/who-we-are/ In my 43 years in Cerritos I don't recall a more desperate and mean-spirited election campaign. Whatever the outcome of next Tuesday's election, I hope we can rise above our differences and accentuate the big-hearted, friendly, neighborly spirit that has been what I love about Cerritos for the past four decades. Kindest Regards, Chris
cindy March 01, 2011 at 06:14 PM
That attention is drawn to an election is a good thing...too many people in Bell learned too late to pay attention to their council activities. I don't think identifying with a party in particular is partisan bickering, Chris. It gives me an idea of how the candidate will approach an issue. My view is that Democrats will approach with a "government will solve all problems by making new regulations" mentality. Good intentions which run into personal liberty (like why can't I choose my own lightbulb?) Republicans these days are split, but as a conservative, I approach issues with a "government out of the way" approach. Less regulations and taxes...let the market choose. These worldviews may lead to bickering over smaller issues, but let's have at it. Nothing wrong with hashing out issues and to do so is not a personal thing. You're right there are few candidates on this ballot with which I agree, but at least someone with experience making a budget looks better to me than someone who wants to just "be inclusive". Chris is right that the council makes too much....how about a part-time council? I think maybe the more time the council is in session the more they feel the need to "do something" (which means finding new ways to spend money).
Christopher F. "Chris" Fuentes March 01, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Cindy, Points well taken. What most folks in Cerritos don't realize is that it's not just the City Council PAY (I estimate it at $3,500 per month EACH - Councilmembers say it's "Just $25K per year") it is the expenses and perquisites; City Credit Card, Travel Expenses, LIFETIME MEDICAL?!?!, Pension Plan, etc. In a recent Public Information Records Request (Feb 15, 2011) our City Clerk provided me with documents that show $50K of travel expenses for just ONE Incumbent City Councilman (currently seeking re-election), many of the junkets (to places like Washington D.C., Orlando Florida, New Orleans, Sacramento etc.) are for Special Interest Lobbying; for example the MagLev High-Speed train. This project is NOT what I would consider ESSENTIAL City Business, I truly believe we would all be better off if Cerritos City Councilmembers' PAY was reduced and their Credit Cards CUT UP! For all the talk about the Chain of Command with the City Manager being the Employee of the City Council who serves at the pleasure of US the Residents of Cerritos, it strikes me as telling to see City Expense Reports with "Councilman _________"EMPLOYEE" , City Manager_________"SUPERVISOR". When you boil it all down, city EMPLOYEES serve UNDER their "Boss" the City Manager. Anyone who gets a Salary, Lifetime Medical Benefits and a Pension, is, in my book, an EMPLOYEE - NOT a Representative. Full-time representatives are a different story, for a city our size (55,000) we need a PART-TIME UNPAID COUNCIL
Levi Javier March 02, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Chris, Why do you have to visit the City Clerk for that information? That stuff should be posted on the website!! Whenever I travel for business, I need to justify why I am going, what am I supposed to accomplish and submit a report at the end of my trip. Shouldn't anyone who travels on business for the City have to do the samething? Also, as far as pay and perks go, the website makes no mention of any health benefits or retirement benefits for the City Council members. The website mentions their pay and car allowance but nothing else. If they are in fact getting benefits should those be posted on the website as well? I would be very, very suprised if any council members are getting any benefits. Afterall, this is just a part-time job. As far as I know, nobody in the private sector gets any benefits for any part-time work. If there is nothing to hide, everything should be posted (excluding any pending legal matters). Just my two cents.
Christopher F. "Chris" Fuentes March 03, 2011 at 12:53 AM
BINGO! You would think they would post that information wouldn't you? One resident wrote me: ["Chris U better set the story straight, they all get PPO INs to grave!!!!! Art G total package is around $4500-$4600 per mth, while seated, then the Ins is to grave and not taxable"] Increasingly Cerritos Residents are PAYING ATTENTION. The fact is that the Cerritos City Council voted THEMSELVES to receive LIFETIME MEDICAL BENEFITS but that is not shown ANYWHERE on the city website, nor is their credit card or travel expenses. My recent Public Records Request revealed nearly One Hundred Thousand Dollars in Credit Card and Travel Expenses for Two Incumbent City Council Members for just this past term! These figures do NOT include their Pay/Benefits/Retirement Packages. There is NO Real Transparency in Cerritos City Government... SO FAR! YOU can change that Next Tuesday, March 8th!

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