Pasadena has lost an important element of our civic community with the death of my friend, John J. Kennedy.
By Terry Tornek
He was a big personality who was devoted to the City and to those who needed effective representation more than most. His giant community Christmas parties and turkey giveaways were indicators of how much he wanted to give back to the community that nurtured him from birth.
But John was at his best when championing critical causes that other officials didn’t really care much about: community police oversight, significant investment in Robinson Park and pool, housing for the very low income, recognition of minority neighborhoods displaced by urban renewal, and creation of an African Sister City relationship. On some of these issues, I was initially on the other side, but he turned me around. He could be relentless, sometimes outrageous, but nonetheless effective–because he was usually right.
He was proud of his city, his community, his family and his achievements. Proud, but not satisfied. There was much more on his agenda, both for Pasadena and personally. That’s the pity of his premature passing. His advocacy for some sort of reparation aspect in the redevelopment of the 710-freeway stub, his continued clamoring for an aspirational number of very low income housing units, and his oversight of Rose Bowl finances–who will pursue these causes in his absence?
In addition to all the kind words that will be uttered about John J. Kennedy, the best memorial that we could create for him would be positive outcomes on the issues that he cared so much about.
Go with God, Brother John; we’ll keep up the fight.
Terry Tornek is the former Mayor of Pasadena.
Celebration of Life A Celebration of Life is planned for Friday, September 30, 5:00 pm at City Hall. RSVP to: Ikennedy@llkassociates.com or (626) 765-6206.
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