After four and a half years of battling a rare form of lung cancer, Mayor Bill Brand passed away on the evening of Friday, February 9th with his wife, family and friends by his side. He survived his specific type cancer the longest any person has in the United States. His rise to Mayor mirrored the heroic battle against cancer.
Mayor Brand first became involved into the fray of local politics after seeing banners fly down the coastline advertising the “Heart of the City”. The battle against the 52-acre power plant and it’s redevelopment along the coastline started at that moment, in March of 2000. That battle concluded on December 31st, 2023.
“After 20 years of public drama: initiatives, ballots… the public has won,” Brand said to the crowd. “After this, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We do know this power plant is closing. There will be something better if the public stays engaged.” said Mayor Brand at the event celebrating “switching off” the power plant. Easy Reader Article.
This project turned resident Bill Brand into an activist. He helped lead a referendum 2002, sending the city council to rescind their plan. The council tried again in 2004, activist Bill once again fought back and with another referendum, and won.
Then, in 2004 he turned into a founder of a 501c(3) non-profit, South Bay Parkland Conservancy. Today, that non-profit has grown to help rebuild city parks, build a community garden, plant native plants, work with the LA Conservation Corps, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and many various LA County Departments.
In 2005, as a relative unknown, he turned into a council candidate, but lost in a narrow margin against an incumbent and by those who were who were endorsed by the biggest names in the city.
in 2008, he understood the process of local government. Frustrated by the politics, the process and representation, he teamed up to co-author a City Charter Amendment in 2008, Measure DD. The Council put on a competing initiative. Brand, and his team won, against all odds. The initiative became Article XXVII, and still stands today as a representation of local government control.
The initiative Measure DD passing in 2008 gave Brand the momentum to move forward with the next major step: run for office in March of 2009 against the incumbent he lost against only a few years prior. There were multiple candidates for this race, all of which had endorsements from the Police, Fire, Chamber of Commerce. Brand did not, and once again, after the runoff concluded, votes were counted, Activist Brand became City Council member Bill Brand.
While in office, he met and became good friends, of then, Congresswomen Janice Hahn. He had a vision, she bought into that vision, even though others did not. That vision was to turn the power plant into a waterfront park for all. In those formidable years, Council member Brand fought many more battles, and gained momentum.
The election of 2017 became the turning point for the South Bay, but especially Redondo Beach. Council member Bill Brand became Mayor. Activist Nils Nehrenheim (current immediate past President of ICA) and former School Board Member Todd Loewenstein became Council members. They became the “firewall” for Mayor Brand to use his “veto” power as Mayor. In Redondo Beach, the Mayor can’t vote, or make motions. Only break ties, or veto a 3-2 council vote.
Another ballot measure which was written by, supported and endorsed by Bill, Nils and Todd passed in the election in 2017. Measure C as it was titled, shook the ground in the harbor. A developer sued Mayor Brand, Council member Nehrenheim and three other residents. Bill married the love of his life, Deirdre in September of 2017.
From 2017 until today, he battled that lawsuit. Winning in the lower Court, going on appeal, then onto the State Supreme Court, and then back to the Appeals Court and finally back to the lower Court. Brand and his team fought, and won. To this day, that lawsuit is being defended against.
In June of 2019, while on an airplane flying to Mexico for a Mayor’s conference, Mayor Brand had a seizure. After getting back to the United States, he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. That same year he started a State-wide local land-use initiative, now named “Our Neighborhood Voices.”
Battling cancer, lawsuits and politics, he ran for re-election in 2021, and won, easily. That vision for the power plant started coming into view. The years of work started bearing fruit. Everything was coming together.
On December 31st, 2023, the power plant shutdown. Never again to restart, the battle was won. Mayor Brand had succeeded. He turned off the ceremonial switch in a ceremony with dozens of residents.
Bill worked as a Crew Chief for American Airlines for 41 years, while serving his community.
Councilmembers Nils Nehrenheim & Todd Loewenstein Statement
The family and members of the City Council of Redondo Beach announce with great sadness and heavy hearts, the death of Mayor Bill Brand.
Mayor Bill Brand, 65, passed away at home on the evening of Friday, February 9th, with his loving wife, family, and friends by his side. His family and friends surrounded him in the last few days during his sudden turn of health. He valiantly fought stage four lung cancer over the past four and a half years, as only he could. He survived his specific cancer longer than any other diagnosed in the United States. A testament to his will to live, his will to move forward, and his will to lead the community he loved so much.
Mayor Brand was born in Dallas, Texas, and moved to the South Bay in 1966. Finding the Seaside Lagoon, he thought that he had found heaven. His service to the community began in 2000. First, as a concerned resident, then as a champion for open space where he created a non-profit organization, the South Bay Parkland Conservancy, and finally as a member of local elected office. He co-authored a winning ballot measure in 2008 amending the City Charter and was a fierce advocate for many environmental and coastal priorities, including being the major driver in the final decision for the shutdown of the AES power plant. Being able to see that event through was an accomplishment of which he was extremely proud.
Mayor Brand was elected twice to the City Council of Redondo Beach, starting in 2009, and then twice to the office of Mayor. He continued to serve admirably and extensively while undergoing arduous treatments. His work as the Mayor of Redondo Beach, while hospitalized several times, and often in pain, continued. He remained dedicated to his vision of a waterfront park to the very end.
Service announcements for private and public ceremonies will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, his wife and family are asking that donations be sent to the non-profit he started, the South Bay Parkland Conservancy, or the Cancer Support Community South Bay, in Bill’s memory. Flags at City Hall will be flown at half-mast in honor of Bill’s passionate service to our community.