Tristan Schukraft, New Voice In West Hollywood
By LaDale Anderson
Feb 24, 2013 - 6:16:50 AM

Tristan Schukraft
—Tristan Schukraft is a seasoned business leader who has worked with numerous companies around the world. At the age of 21, he shared the idea for ID90.COM, a travel Web site for airline employees with his family.  He was able to get his parents to loan him $10,000 for the business venture, but the catch involved him moving back to the states, at the time he was living in Hong Kong, modeling throughout Southeast Asia.

With the income he received from his parents, and the over $16,000 he earned from importing and selling scooters at flea markets across Southern California, he was able to launch the ID90 Group, which has over 100 employees on four continents that includes clients in Moscow and Sydney. At the age of 33, he has lived in Milan, Amsterdam and most recently Cordoba, Argentina.

Schukraft states, “We are the creative city, yet we are not leveraging the ideas of our residents, and many in our community are simply not encouraged to be involved. I want to utilize technology to bring people and their ideas together, while improving access to our city services.  West Hollywood needs to be a leader, not a follower when it comes to technology and community involvement.”

He now resides in West Hollywood and is tackling a new challenge as he runs for City Council. Tristan spoke to Canyon News about his run for office.

LA: What would you say to those critics that say you're inexperienced in politics?

TS: I don’t think the city of West Hollywood wants a career “politician,” but rather a voice and results.  Every politician was once not a politician.  I’m not part of the political establishment, but I am a successful businessman and at the end of the day the city of West Hollywood is a business, and its residents, business owners and visitors are its customers. 

I understand how to balance a budget, and more importantly listen to my customer.  Today’s city council, which is pretty much the same city council since the city’s inception, has created an entrenched political establishment.   They don't encourage community involvement, and the residents have some of the best ideas.  The city needs someone who is willing to listen, think outside the box and put its residents and business owners first. 

As a member of the city council, I will leverage my technology background to ensure efficiency, accountability and programs and solutions that create results and encourage its residents to stay involved while ensuring the city maintains fiscal responsibility.  As an entrepreneur working with intensely bureaucratic airlines, I know how challenging it is to enable change and innovation.  After years of the same, it’s time for a fresh perspective.

LA: What made you decide to run for city council for West Hollywood?

TS: I live here, I love it here, but as you all know there is room for improvement and new ideas.  I took the involved-citizen route of attending city council meetings and quickly learned no one was listening on city council.  I decided that I would do a better job listing to the residents and business owners, so I decided to run for city council myself.  I think that most people who run for office, or so they should, get started because they are frustrated with the way things are and want a change for the better. 

LA: What is your stance on Term Limits (Measure C)?

TS: Today’s city council, has created an entrenched political establishment that makes it nearly impossible for worthy challenging candidates to win and bring new ideas to the city.  What’s even worse is the city council controls who sits on the city's commissions and advisory groups, and they make no effort to involve the community.  Instead of engaging the residents of West Hollywood, the city council has done the opposite as evident by the declining voter turnout.  People only vote when they feel their vote counts.   Measure C will limit members to three terms in office, or 12-years, which I feel is enough time to create positive change.

LA: What have you been hearing from residents in regards to what they want the new city council candidates to do for the city? 

TS: They want a voice, more transparency and accountability.

LA: What ideas do you have for the business community, if you are elected into office?

TS: As a community, we need to embrace and support our local businesses; they are the backbone of the city’s economy, creating jobs and providing vital tax revenues that support our numerous city services.  I am confident that we can help local businesses flourish, while respecting the needs of our residents.  As a business owner, I understand the challenges of starting from scratch and also the issues that face large organizations.  We need to engage our business leaders and ensure that West Hollywood is not creating bureaucratic obstacles and “nickel and diming” our business owners with unnecessary fees.  West Hollywood needs to helps its’ local businesses thrive, and make certain its’ meeting the needs of all businesses regardless of their size or industry.   Finally, as a community we need to support efforts of West Hollywood’s Chamber of Commerce, such as their “shop local” consumer-driven program, EAT. SHOP. PLAY. WEST HOLLYWOOD. 

LA: Parking is a big issue in West Hollywood, what ideas do you have to relieve this issue?

TS: I believe there are various ways we can improve parking availability throughout the city without the need for additional parking structures, which can costs upwards of $50,000 a space.  Introducing angled parking on wider streets, painting defined parking “slots” on the streets, enforcing meters and offering 2-hours free parking in the city’s structures as well as employee parking for local businesses will help address parking demand and will also help reduce traffic.  One of the first things I would like to see is the parking which was removed from San Vicente replaced. 

LA: Tell me something that people may be surprised to learn about Tristan Schukraft?

TS: I’m a pretty open book, so there’s not many “surprises.”  However, many people think I simply “started” my business and the money came rolling in.  It wasn’t that easy and it took a lot of perseverance.  I got a loan for $10,000, but I needed more money to get my business off the ground, so imported 457 Razor scooters China and sold them at flea markets across Southern California. 

On a personal note, I love new experiences, like bungee-jumping in New Zealand and river rafting down the Zambezi River, but I'm equally happy simply having a margarita on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. I love to travel and meet new people.  I’ve been to 79 countries, travelled millions of miles and still get excited to fly on an airplane.  I’m spontaneous, so most of my travel is last-minute.

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