In case anyone missed the candidate debates being held around Pasadena in recent weeks, fear not. Four more are on the immediate horizon, one of them taking place tonight.
And just in case anyone thought it was easy running for office in Pasadena, forget about it. It may be rewarding, even fun at times, but easy it is not. Nor is it cheap.
One person who doesn’t have to worry about such things is District 1 Councilman Tyron Hampton. Although he’s running unopposed, Hampton has reported accepting $5,000 from the Pasadena Police Officers Association’s (PPOA) Sacramento-based political action committee, or PAC, in December, according to state financial disclosure forms filed with the city by the candidates and posted on the city’s website.
Those who are actually campaigning include two candidates for Mayor and 11 for City Council seats in Districts 2, 4 and 6.
In District 2, where incumbent Margaret McAustin has opted to not seek a fourth term, candidate Kevin Litwin reported taking in $5,700 in contributions, with an ending cash balance of $1,560, and candidate Boghos “Bo” Patatian reported the $2,000 that he gave to his own campaign. It appears political newcomer Tricia Keane fared better, topping out at $13,500, mostly in late contributions, many from attorneys. But Planning Commission member Felicia Williams has by far been the biggest fundraiser in that race up to now, reporting $21,000 in individual contributions, from February 2019 to June 2019, then loaning her campaign $10,000, and taking in $2,000 from ACT on Jan. 14 and and $5,000 from the Pasadena Firefighter Association PAC on Dec. 9. Retired city planning official Marsha Rood, Altadena activist Monica Hubbard, Pasadena activists Nina Chomsky and Dianne Philibosian, political consultant Lena Kennedy, and former Pasadena Water and Power Department head Phyllis Currie were among 90 supporters who made contributions of between $100 and $750 to Williams’ campaign.
In District 4, a seat held by Councilman Gene Masuda, the two-term incumbent far outpaced his opponents in the area of contributions. Masuda’s been campaigning for re-election since 2016, updating his committee name each year, and again in January to match this year, which he did on Jan. 11, 2019. Another thing Masuda has done each year is report a personal $50,000 loan made to his own campaign, and he did it again this year. According to state records, from January to June, Masuda reported a straight $5,000 in the form of a contribution from himself, and $50,000 as a personal loan. In addition, Masuda received a $10,000 contribution from the Pasadena Pasadena Police Officers Association political action committee, or PAC, and $6,000 from the Pasadena Firefighters Association PAC.
Candidate Kevin Wheeler reported receiving $2,000 from CREPAC, the California Real Estate PAC, on Dec. 30. And Candidate Charlotte Bland took in $4,500 on the same day, Jan. 13, with $2,000 coming from the local political group ACT, and and the International Union of Operating Engineers contributing $2,500.
Joe Baghdalian, who formed a campaign committee and started raising money in 2017, picked up $10,000 in contributions by the end of August, but spent more than $8,200. Baghdalian later received three more shots in the arm with a $3,000 donation from Diablo Racing of Irwindale and two personal contributions from himself totaling $8,500. He also received two $5,000 contributions from Anahid and Hourig Baghdalian.
In District 6, candidate Ryan Bell did not report receiving any campaign funds as of Dec. 4.
From January to June 2019, attorney Tamerlin Godley reported receiving $11,363 in contributions, not including the $10,000 she gave to her own campaign.
Incumbent District 6 Councilman Steve Madison, who has been in office for 20 years and formally opened his re-election campaign in October, had previously reported loaning himself $47,000, with his campaign holding a $2,676 cash balance at the end of 2018. Starting again on Jan. 1, 2019, the campaign had a $2,586 cash balance. It wasn’t until the second week of December that Madison started collecting contributions in earnest, which by Jan. 17 totaled $18,800, $10,000 from the PPOA PAC, $2,000 from ACT, and the rest contributed by friends and fellow lawyers.
The race for mayor appears to be shaping up as a contest between incumbent Terry Tornek and District 5 City Councilman Victor Gordo, with former Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jacque Robinson apparently filing the required paperwork to stay in the race, but raising no funds. Candidate Jason Hardin also reported no contributions. Newcomer Major Williams, however, raised $12,200 from 22 contributors, most of them from people in another city or out of state. With another $1,771 in miscellaneous cash contributions, and expenditures totaling $8,547, Williams reported an ending cash balance of nearly $5,544.
In the race between Tornek and Gordo, Tornek took in $84,000 from January 2019 to December, leaving an ending cash balance of $50,290, according to the disclosure form. Donors to Tornek’s campaign gave another $33,500 to the campaign between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15, the documents show. Tornek also loaned money to his own campaign, $8,000. His supporters included Nat Nehdar, vice chair of the city Human Relations Commission, who gave $100, Pasadena School Board member Scott Phelps, who gave $500, Old Pasadena property owner Carolyn Naber, who contributed $1,500, and the Portantino for Senate campaign, which contributed $795, according to the documents.
Gordo also raised large sums. Taking in $39,250 in contributions between mid-December and mid-January. Some of his supporters include former Mayor Bill Bogaard, Tornek’s predecessor, the Pasadena Firefighters Association PAC, former political consultant Bill Wardlaw, confidatne and friend of former LA Mayor Dick Riordan and husband of Ninth Circuit Appellate Court Judge Kim Wardlaw, and Andrea Van de Kamp, wife of the late former state Attorney General John Van de Kamp, who gave $2,500.
Tonight, Jan. 23, Maranatha School in West Pasadena will be the site of the feature appearances by four candidates running for mayor the three candidates running for the District 6 seat on the City Council.
Then, next week, Jan. 30, candidates for four council districts holding elections (District 1 Councilman Hampton is running unopposed) and the four candidates for mayor will appear at a debate sponsored by the group POP (People Organizing for Progress) and co-hosted by the NAACP, NDLA, and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA). That event will be held at Madison Elementary School, 515 Ashtabula St., Pasadena.
On Feb. 4, all the mayor and council candidates are expected to take part in what is likely a first-ever debate sponsored by groups focused primarily on the environment, specifically climate change. That debate will be held at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, 1081 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena.
And on Feb. 16, the four mayoral candidates are invited to a forum which will be followed with a meet and greet with people at Friendship Baptist Church, 80 W. Dayton St., in Old Pasadena.
Remember, Election Day is March 3. Please make a note of it.