In the shadow of the Super Tuesday presidential primary election, a total of 11 candidates are vying for your vote for Pasadena mayor and three seats on the Pasadena City Council.
There are also elections for Congress, the state Senate, the Assembly, county supervisor, district attorney, and two ballot measures, one, if approved, that would affect the way public schools are maintained, and another that would grant subpoena power to a citizen review board overseeing the Sheriff’s Department.
Many people have already cast their ballots by mail, but even more people have not. It is with those folks in mind that we make our recommendations for still undecided voters and those who have chosen to wait to cast their ballots on March 3.
Rarely has the race for mayor been closer or more exciting than this year’s contest between incumbent Terry Tornek, Councilman Victor Gordo, publisher and entrepreneur Jason Hardin, and political newcomer Major Williams. Each candidate brought their “A” games to the race, publicly discussing such things as police oversight, affordable housing, homelessness, immigration, the environment, education and other hot-button concerns. What became clear throughout these debates was that many critical decisions will be facing Pasadenans in the next few years, especially in the areas of housing, education and land use, requiring leadership that is both flexible and knowledgeable about complex governmental and land use matters.
A native New Yorker, Tornek holds a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Columbia, served with the city’s planning department from 1982 to 1985, and worked in the private sector as a developer and a planning director before being elected to the City Council in 2009, then as Pasadena’s second elected mayor in 2015. In that position, he succeeded Bill Bogaard, a major supporter of Gordo.
Gordo, who has his own list of praiseworthy accomplishments, doesn’t appear to be as well versed on important land use and development matters as Tornek. Most recently, Tornek engineered Measures I and J, the former a three-quarter cent sales tax increase that is expected to generate $21 million a year for the city, with Measure J steering a third of that revenue to our financially struggling schools.
Granted, Tornek isn’t always the most congenial guy. In fact, he can get downright ornery at times. But he tends to get things done in a well thought out way. Plus, if Tornek loses, he’s out of office. Gordo has two years left in his term, during which time the two men could work together on the top issues of the next four years, one of those affordable housing, another deciding the best use for existing school sites that have been closed due to a drop in enrollment. For those reasons, we believe Pasadena voters should re-elect Terry Tornek.
Pasadena City Council
District 2 — Felicia Williams
Far and away the candidate of choice in this race is the person who seems to know more about the city than most other candidates, even incumbents, and that is Felicia Williams, who has served on numerous civic panels and is currently a member of the city Planning Commission.
District 4 — Charlotte “Char” Bland
For the past eight years, District 4 has been well represented by quietly efficient Councilman Gene Masuda. But we believe it’s time for a change in leadership, one with a style that’s passionate and inclusive of both homeowners and less affluent renters who live in this eastern Pasadena district.
District 6 — Steve Madison
Twenty years, the number of years incumbent Councilman Steve Madison has been in office, is a long time. We thought Madison would be running for mayor, but he chose not to do that. We also thought that he would use his knowledge of government as a lawyer and a former federal prosecutor, to run for higher elected office, but that didn’t happen either. Now he’s facing Tamerlin Godley, also a lawyer and a parent with a yearning for public service. We believe Godley would be a fine representative for District 6. But Madison has been on the ball when it comes to most issues facing West Pasadena. Perhaps most telling about his record is he’s gained the support of businessman Robin Salzer, a Republican to Madison’s Democrat affiliation.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
After Kathryn Barger was elected four years ago, she hit the ground running when it came to governing. That’s because she served as chief of staff to her predecessor Mike Antonovich. As supervisor, Barger has rarely if ever allowed partisan politics to guide her thinking on important issues. One example we were most impressed with was when she took the lead on the county’s ban on the use of Roundup weed killer.
Los Angeles County District Attorney
Jackie Lacey was first elected county DA in 2012 and is seeking a third term on March 3. According to her website, Lacey’s “top priority is keeping the streets of Los Angeles County safe from violent and dangerous criminals. She is committed to safeguarding our children from human sex traffickers, our seniors from financial elder abuse and our communities from environmental crimes that threaten our health and our livelihood.” We could ask for more, and probably will, but that is more than good enough for now.
US House of Representatives
Congressional District 27
US Rep. Judy Chu
The affable Judy Chu in 2009 became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. A former state Assembly member and onetime mayor of Monterey Park, Democrat Chu has focused her attention on such things as civil rights, education, health care, seniors, promoting small businesses and immigration, among many other issues. A summary of her voting record states, “Representative Chu opposes big business, hawkish foreign policy, taxing the middle class, military spending, domestic surveillance and supports taxing businesses, consumer protection, disaster relief, funding education, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, public health, foreign and humanitarian aid, humane immigration policy, labor rights and wages, lgbt rights, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, racial equality, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy”… Need we say more?
Congressional District 28
US Rep. Adam Schiff
As we all know, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, led the successful House effort to impeach President Trump. But that is not all Schiff has done for his district during the 20 years that he’s been in office. Far from it. Notwithstanding strained relationships with members of the party-defying Trump administration, Schiff has always worked well with Republicans, and continues to do so, perhaps at least partially explaining why he’s so popular in this majority Democrat but still fairly conservative district.
This Proposition 13 will not change the Proposition 13 property tax measure of 1978. This Proposition 13 is a $15 billion state bond issue to help schools, community colleges and universities with construction costs for their facilities. According to Legislative Analyst Office estimates, the full repayment of the bond will be $26 billion over 35 years, paid from the state’s General Fund. This includes the $15 billion principal plus $11 billion in estimated interest based on selling bonds over 5 years at a 4 percent interest rate. The annual repayment of $740 million would equal 0.5 percent of the General Fund.
The nine-member Sheriff’s Civilian Review Board has been seated since 2016, five years after the ACLU issued a report on the condition of county jail’s, where inmates claimed to have been routinely beaten and sometimes tortured by deputy guards. Today, numerous sheriff’s officials, including former Sheriff Lee Baca and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, have been sentenced to various terms in prison in relation to a federal civil rights investigation of the jail system. Commission members are now seeking subpoena power, something that we think they should have had all along.