Sue Lepisto and her husband, Vic, have lived and raised their three children–Jessica, Garret and Braden–in Agoura Hills for the past 25 years. All three kids attended LVUSD schools.
Lepisto earned her undergraduate degree from Cal State Northridge, and a master's degree in guidance and counseling from California Lutheran University. She has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 30 years as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal and principal.
Agoura Hills Patch recently had an exchange with Lepisto and discussed her stance on local issues.
Agoura Hills Patch: Why are you running for City Council?
Sue Lepisto: At this time in my life, I look at this as a re-involvement in my city. Back in the '90s, for about 10 years, I served on the community services advisory committee and enjoyed the process as a resident working with city staff...Since [my family] has benefited so much from this community, I would really like future generations to benefit from the same assets.
Patch: What do you think are some of the biggest issues Agoura will face during your first term if you are elected?
Lepisto: Since we are not yet out of the economic downturn, I would think that the city's finances would continue to be a challenge. Being part of the process that balances the budget while maintaining services would certainly be the primary issue for me.
Patch: How would you get people more involved in local government?
Lepisto: [The City Council] represents people's views, and in order to make that happen, we need an interactive process of giving information and receiving information. Currently, there are some committees that are comprised of residents, but I would like to propose creating a neighborhood council where representatives from our various homeowners associations and/or residents would come together to talk about what makes their areas distinct. I think this sharing of information would give us a better understanding of what each area needs. ...They would act as a focus group for the community.
Also, there are currently 22 council meetings a year. I would like to see individuals, groups, programs and businesses recognized at each meeting. This draws people into council chambers and they, in turn, might want to become a part of something.
Patch: Do you have any environmentally friendly endeavors you would like to pursue if elected?
Lepisto: I think there should be recycling containers in all of our parks. ... There should be shade canopies over our playground equipment. ... I also think that we should promote leaving our cars at home and doing more walking. ... There are certain areas I want to look at to perhaps add more bike lanes, walking paths or sidewalks and equestrian trails. For example, I found out that the equestrian trail along Driver Avenue took seven years to complete, but there are also supposed to be equestrian trails on each street that feeds into Driver.
Patch: What's the first thing you would like to do if elected to the council?
Lepisto: I would meet with city staff to become more informed about the programs and learn about the history and current status of particular topics. At the same time, I would suggest we create the association representative body to involve our residents more.
Patch: What is your stance on development in the city? Do you think Agoura needs more commercial or non-residential development, or not?
Lepisto: Business development brings services to our residents and increases our revenue. ... I think if an infrastructure is in place and a developer brings in plans that are in harmony with the city's mission and vision, then new projects would bring in more revenue and employment. This would be considered sensible growth.
Patch: Do you have any thoughts on how the city can assist the school district, particularly in light of the cutting of the RDA?
Lepisto: The city already has been supportive of the school district in many ways, and I'm sure, depending upon the district's needs and the city's financial status, that will continue. There should always be an interactive discussion between all parties involved.
Patch: What do you think of the job the current council has done? Would you have done anything differently?
Lepisto: I do regard what the past and current council has done to serve our community...to continue to arrive at a balanced budget has been a major task for them. In discussion with friends and business owners, I have found that people would like to have more information from the city. So, [if elected], I would examine what that actually means and provide a solution to that request.
Patch: Do you have any ideas or programs in mind that could help generate some additional revenue for the city?
Lepisto: I would support filling the vacancies in our shopping centers. ... I like that the arts council has suggested that local artists be included to enhance our area. ... The exploraion of tourism and eventual recommendations by the cities of Thousand Oaks and Westlake could generate more revenues... [and] look into money from our own City Council as well as from those other cities to promote what we have, as places to visit, shop and eat.