FIRST ON FOX: A pro-police, pro-transparency political candidate is shaking up the Beverly Hills City Council race by officially throwing his hat in the ring, Fox News Digital has learned.

“I think that this is going to be a movement of concerned citizens who are just fed up with the status quo and the typical talking points and sound bites that they have seen through countless cycles of elections,” Russell Stuart told Fox News Digital on Sunday in his first interview as a candidate for Beverly Hills City Council. “… I think it’s time that this city finally had someone who was outside of the system.”

Stuart has lived in Beverly Hills for more than 15 years and has long considered running for political office, citing how he is a business owner, taxpayer and parent to a daughter of the city’s next generation. He said he has witnessed first-hand what Beverly Hills executes well and what processes need to be overhauled.

A security expert, Stuart is the CEO behind Force Protection Agency, also known as “the Secret Service of Hollywood,” as well as proprietor of the firearms store called Beverly Hills Guns.

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A total of 10 candidates qualified for the election to fill two spots on the city council. The election is nonpartisan and will be held on March 5.

In his exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, Stuart said he is a man with his finger on the pulse of Beverly Hills and who listens every day to residents sounding off about public safety concerns, whether they be his neighbors or clients. 

“Public safety is my No. 1 issue,” Stuart said, noting that his campaign tagline is “Protecting Our Future.”

“Protecting our future means more than just simply the public safety aspect. We have to protect our local families. We have to protect our kids at school, not just from an active shooter but from other factors that are creeping into the school systems, that are taking away from the focus on making sure that these kids are academically smart. We have to worry about small businesses and making sure that they are protected. We have to worry about our infrastructure, especially from this new phenomenon … cybersecurity attacks,” he said.

Stuart said that he plans to take policing and public safety issues head-on if elected and will rely on a pro-transparency approach when leading.

He pointed to an incident earlier this year when his young daughter’s school was put on lockdown and how parents were notified via a robocall that provided no details and sent families into panic mode for fear that the school was about to become the site of the next mass shooting.

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“It was terrifying because we got some robocall from the city in that robocaller voice saying that there’s an active situation at this school … the children are on lockdown,” said Stuart, who sounded shaken by the incident during the interview.

He said no details were provided to parents as they panicked and feared the worst. He said parents are still in the dark about what caused the lockdown.

“Let’s talk about transparency,” he said. “The fact that the city of Beverly Hills is very good at keeping crucial information close to the vest – and that is something that I’ve had countless conversations with people [about]. That communication and transparency is one of their No. 1 grievances about the current structure of Beverly Hills. And so you have a child in the school system, and you get some generic robocall saying that your young child is under lockdown, and you follow up with no further information … I think that is not only cruel but is irresponsible.”

Beverly Hills Police Officer

He cited another incident two weeks ago in which he left his home in the city to find security personnel directing him to go back inside his house and lock the door. The official informed him that there was an “armed gentleman” on the prominent L.A. County street known as Wilshire Boulevard. The incident drew response from four different police departments, setting the city’s residents on high alert, Stuart said.

“What do you think the community would think if you see four different law enforcement agencies in your neighborhood locking down 10 square blocks?” he said, speculating that people thought “something huge” had happened, such as a terrorist attack.

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“It leads the community to conspiracy theories, it leads the community into thinking, ‘Oh my God, we must be understaffed because why do we need so many jurisdictions here to help us?’” he said.

Residents got “zero statement from the city” on what happened, he said, which is one of the issues he said he will address if elected.

Russell Stuart campaign photo

“There is a need for greater transparency to the community. And if that means, ‘Well, hey, a part of that transparency is we need more funding for more police,’ well then tell us that. We are a very, very, very wealthy city. We do have resources, we do have means, publicly and especially privately.”

“In the end, if you do not have safety, you don’t have a life. You cannot walk around in the city of Beverly Hills thinking that it’s [safe]. That is not what people are paying these [exorbitant] taxes for,” he said. 

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Beverly Hills, home to Hollywood stars and some of the nation’s wealthiest Americans, has increasingly become a target for crime. The murder of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, the ​​wife of music executive Clarence Avant, rocked the city in 2021, for example, while home invasions, robberies and other crimes have left residents on edge.

Jacqueline Avant killing.

Stuart said he is positioning himself as the city’s prime public safety and pro-police candidate who has and will continue speaking with not only residents about what needs to be better addressed but also hearing directly from police officers who work to protect the city.

“I speak to police every day and say, ‘What are the concerns from the rank and file, not from the top down?’ And they talk about quality-of-life issues. They talk about financial issues. They talk about scheduling issues,” he said, noting that officers can work repeated overtime shifts that can drain them.

“Would you want to be a cop who just worked [three or four shifts] in a row, but get off at 6 p.m. on a Friday night and [live] in a landlocked city like Beverly Hills? It’s not near any freeway, but you live 40, 50, 60 miles away,” he said, arguing that quality-of-life issues for police wear them down and leaves the community worse off.

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Stuart said he wants to cut the red tape “strangling Beverly Hills” and bring down “a definite wall between our local government and our community.” He explained he will do away with the “generic rhetoric” from politicians who champion slogans such as “We’re going to strengthen Beverly Hills” or “Support Our Police” yet don’t detail what that means.

Beverly Hills

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Stuart said he wants to break from the norm and “strengthen Beverly Hills” by cutting red tape that would allow construction projects to flourish, create business incubators to incentivize young business owners, and to communicate with residents before and after election day.

“You see a lot of people go from being incredibly vocal during election season to being incredibly mute once they’re in. Because it’s kind of like that ‘protect your own space now, don’t want to say anything to screw up or anger anybody.’ And in my opinion, that is just simply not acceptable. If you’re screaming from the mountaintops on a topic, and the moment that you’re getting elected, you go silent on it, that’s not the candidate that I’m going to be. I want to be someone who has morals and conviction who is speaking on the topics I’m incredibly passionate about,” he said.

Stuart said he is the outside “disrupter” candidate who will champion the voice of residents and turn Beverly Hills into an example for state and county leaders to follow. 

“I am a worker bee. I get up every day and bust my butt with [no] handouts and people patting me on the back. I get dirty every day because I fight for my family. And now I want to bring that same passion and intensity for my fight for my family to every family in the city,” he said.

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