An award-winning member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences by trade, Jody Thomas is also well versed in local issues.
The freelance foley artist who was awarded an Emmy for her work on the Stephen Spielberg/Tom Hanks production of The Pacific has long translated her skills of working on a team into working on behalf Calabasas residents since the founding of the City.
A self-described "voice for the rural community" as President of Old Topanga Homeowners, Thomas has served on several committees and believes in uniting the city and community. The mother of a Calabasas High graduate/valedictorian, Thomas was a long-time volunteer both in the Las Virgenes Unified School District and elsewhere in the community.
Calabasas Patch: Why are you running for City Council?
Jody Thomas: I am running for City Council because I have been an active member of the community for more than 20 years. I am running to represent the voice of our community, to protect what makes our city so unique and to assure our council is more transparent so that citizens can see how and why it makes decisions.
Patch: What are some of the achievements of the City Council during the last year?
Thomas: In my opinion, the most major achievement of Council over the past year has been a recent one. The Savvy Seniors were formed by a group of residents who organized and fought hard to create the programs that were important to them. Council recognized and acknowledged this citizens' effort, rewarding them with the promise of their own Senior Center. A Senior Center in Calabasas is long overdue.
Patch: What are some of the major issues facing Calabasas that you hope to address in your next term?
Thomas: The major issue facing Calabasas is the future of our City's financial health. Over the past several years, the City's reserves have been dwindling while council has increased staff and expenses.
Patch: How do you think Calabasas can bring in more revenue?
Thomas: Poor budgeting choices and pet projects are unsustainable and must be addressed. It is important to promote our local businesses, but we must earn the trust of our residents by bringing our budget under control.
Patch: How can we make Calabasas a greener city or are we doing enough in that regard?
Thomas: Is Calabasas "green" enough? Personally I believe we can always do a better job being a little bit "greener." We don't need more ordinances, but Calabasas should lead by example. We can show more initiative like the City of Santa Monica, where sustainability is embedded into how the local government functions.
Patch: What’s your favorite aspect about Calabasas living and how do you plan to maintain it?
Thomas: There are several reasons why I've chosen to live and raise my family in Calabasas. It was the natural beauty and scenic open spaces that first drew me to the area. However, the unexpected surprises discovered once we had settled, have kept us here. First and foremost, the people and neighbors I have met along the way have enriched my life beyond measure. My daughter was educated in the first-rate LVUSD and is currently thriving at Cornell University. Our schools' health and future is a mirror for that of our children. It is important we continue to nurture our schools and the programs that enrich the lives of all Calabasas residents of every age and economic means.
Patch: What needs to change to keep Calabasas healthy?
Thomas: Calabasas does need change. Important issues concerning every resident have been "swept under the rug," or ignored, during this election year (ie. the building codes). Under our current leadership, the voice of the residents and participation in our local governance has been limited and often discouraged. Our city's founders intended a "small town" environment where every voice would be heard and represented. Unfortunately, I believe we have strayed from this ideal. Our Open Spaces and scenic corridors are under constant threat. Development must be tempered in a more responsible manner to protect the way of life that every resident cherishes.
Patch: What is Calabasas’s best-kept secret?
Jody Thomas: The best kept secrets (and ones that need protecting) are those representing the rich historical presence of Calabasas. From the 1920's Park Moderne fountain nestled in the Bird Streets to the relatively untouched trade route of Old Topanga Canyon Road, our cultural significance and links to the past should not be lost. The unique character of our neighborhoods is as diverse and culturally rich as the people who call Calabasas home.