By Michael Miller
10:57 AM PDT, October 24, 2012
Bruce Brandt spends a lot of time around horses. And like some iconic horsemen — say, Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name — he's on the quiet side.
The three-time Huntington Beach City Council candidate, who has volunteered for more than a decade at the Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach, hasn't run the most low-key campaign for the council this year. Unlike some candidates, he's posted yard signs around town, and his runs in 2008 and 2010 will mean at least some name recognition on the ballot.
But with no endorsements, no campaign website and no door-to-door canvassing yet — that last one, he said, may change in the weeks before the election — Brandt hopes to let his platforms and experience speak for themselves.
"Can I get elected that way? I guess nine out of 10 people would say that's pretty tough," Brandt said Friday at his home on the southeast side. "You don't have many champions spreading the word."
What Brandt hopes will spread the word is his resume. As a former Boeing executive and current owner of Zanadu Realty Company in Huntington Beach, he knows business backward and forward. With a master's degree in business administration, he understands decision-making from the top down.
And although he hasn't trumpeted it in his campaign, Brandt's experience with the Therapeutic Riding Center, which allows disabled people to work with horses, shows that his mark on Surf City goes beyond the balance sheet.
Brandt, whose wife, Donna, serves as vice president for the center's board of directors, began volunteering there 14 years ago when his daughter entered the program. He describes himself as the "handyman" for the center, fixing stalls and racks and helping with logistics for field trips.
Recently, Brandt has worked with the Planning and Building Department in hopes of putting in lighting and portable toilets for the nonprofit's home by the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center. David Dominguez, the city's facilities, development and concessions manager, praised Brandt for his patience in dealing with the conditional use permit process.
"He seems to be very practical in his approach," said Dominguez, who declined to give any actual candidate endorsements. "We know the CUP process can be cumbersome at times."
When Brandt first ran for council in 2008, his main issue was the planned Poseidon Resources water desalination plant, which he opposed. The plant is expected to go to the California Coastal Commission for approval in the coming months, but Brandt has other issues on his mind this year.
One is what he considers the encroachment of the "nanny state," reflected in the council's recent vote to regulate cat and dog sales and a proposed ordinance to restrict usage of plastic bags. He also favors Measure Z, which would eliminate a property tax that helps to fund city employees' pensions.
Brandt stressed, though, that he doesn't want to be perceived as tied too closely to a particular issue. Politics, he said, is too unpredictable for that.
"When you get elected to office, there can be a whole bunch of stuff that comes up that you never thought about," he said. "I don't think you need an activist or a champion for a particular cause."