• Pasadena Council Candidate Environmental Forum at Throop Church (Photo - Staff).

      Pasadena Council Candidate Environmental Forum at Throop Church (Photo – Staff).

      Pasadena’s City Council candidates came to church last Thursday night to share their views on the questions of public health, sustainability, and the environment in the last scheduled candidates’ forum for the election of Councilmembers for Districts 3, 5, & 7.

      By Mike Pashistoran

      However, in the case of Councilmember John Kennedy of District 3, it was his first forum appearance. He is fortunate to be running unopposed, unlike his two Council colleagues, but he came feeling, “It was important for me to be here since I believe this is serious work that I believe many of you are engaged in. And I grew up in the city of Pasadena.”

      Throop hall was full with a standing room only audience. Six questions were asked of each of the nine candidates during the 90 minute forum, in addition to their opening and closing statements. For those of you who don’t have the time or patience to sit through a 90 minute video that is available of this event, which gives the candidates complete, word by word responses to the questions, this article is just a peek into their responses.

      (L) Rev. Tera Klein, Pastor of Throop Church, welcomes Councilmember John J. Kennedy to his first and only forum, (R) and welcomes Mayor Terry Tornek attending his second forum (Photo - Mike Pashistoran).

      (L) Rev. Tera Klein, Pastor of Throop Church, welcomes Councilmember John J. Kennedy to his first and only forum, (R) and welcomes Mayor Terry Tornek attending his second forum (Photo – Mike Pashistoran).

      John J. Kennedy, incumbent (D3) opening statement:

      • I’m running unopposed, but it was important for me to be here because this is serious work you are engaged in…I grew up in the city of Pasadena. My nine brothers and sisters still live here. My parents are from the segregated south. As a Councilmember my goal has been to unite my district despite the artificial divider of the 210 freeway and to build one Pasadena…And, if you look to your right, and to your left, you’ll notice there aren’t a lot of African-Americans in this room.  That’s problematic for this movement in terms of sustainability. So I invite all the candidates and you all here in terms of building a coalition to reach out to everyone and bring them under the umbrella of sustainability and moving toward zero waste in the community. I believe in the work that you’re doing.

      What street in your district is in need of a “complete streets” treatment, and what would you specifically change?

      Phil Hosp, candidate (D7):

      • The Complete Streets would be on Union street…I’m not a fan of Parklets. Our district represents a lot of residential areas that want to access the city center and Parklets would make that more difficult for people, especially seniors…The Parklets is very troublesome for me because it restricts access to a very large portion of the population of Pasadena. In my opinion traffic is already bad enough. You shouldn’t constrict it even more on the leading east-west corridor.

      Would you support Pasadena transitioning to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035?

      Victor Gordo, incumbent (D5):

      • The reality is we’re on track with the state to reach 50%. And we’ll get there by 2030 at a faster rate than the state will. The real question is not do we support this, but how do we keep the momentum going to get there.

      Are you in favor of lifting the ban on the commercial sale & delivery of marijuana in Pasadena, in an effort to reduce marijuana-related health impacts?

      Sheena Tahilramani, candidate (D7):

      • Yes, I just sat down with our Police Chief for a couple of hours and he did express some worry as to what the legalization of marijuana is going to do to public safety. You know, I’m not an expert in the area. However, I do think we need to get the key stakeholders in the room. And I do think that the Police Chief is definitely someone we need to talk to there on the streets everyday dealing with…violence and drug use and how…the laws being passed affect our community.
        And so I really think we need to make them a part of the conversation, in addition to the health dept, and I really think we need to come together with all the stakeholders to figure out what the best solution is. But, not being an expert on it, I would say, yes.

      Bryan Witt, candidate (D7):

      • Okay, I’m kind of the odd man out here. I’m absolutely in favor of lifting the ban! I think there’s an institutional hysteria when it comes to the use of cannabis. We need to look to Holland and their hands-off approach to soft drugs. They’ve been very successful. Here we tend to want to punish everybody for the smallest offenses. Alcohol does a great deal of more society than cannabis. So I’m absolutely in favor of lifting the ban. (This answer got one of the rare, and the biggest, applause of the night, from at least the pot sympathizers in the audience.)

      Would you support a Vision Zero policy (such as LA City & County have) for Pasadena?

      Krystal Lopez Padley, candidate (D5): 

      • I would 100% support a Vision Zero policy in our district and city! District 5 has the three most dangerous intersections:  Lake/Orange Grove, Lake/Corson, and Fair Oaks/Maple…So this is something that is very “striking”: kids are being hit on the way to school, people are being hit crossing at all intersections… So, yes, Vision Zero policy would put a shared responsibility.  I think there needs to be much more enforcement of the current policy. Whatever is happening on our streets right now is not working.
      Standing room only at the forum (Photo - Mike Pashistoran).

      Standing room only at the forum (Photo – Mike Pashistoran).

      Public open space, especially in the Civic Center, is currently being threatened by over-development. What will you do to protect open space remaining along with creating more parks as the city becomes more populated?

      – Aida Morales, candidate (D5): 

      • One of the characteristics of Pasadena are its trees and the architecture. We want to preserve Pasadena. We have too many businesses, too much commercial building. We need to build affordable housing; that’s what we need to do. And we need to preserve the Civic Center area.

      Andy Wilson, incumbent (D7): 

      • A few months ago I created a task force with the central district neighborhood association (Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association) and the Playhouse District Association. I know Chris [Fedukowski] and Jonathan [Edewards] are here to creatively come up with a solution, so we can deliver the badly needed open space in our central district that those residents and families need and expect for their quality of life. So I think creative problem solving is critical to address and solve this problem.

      – Sheena Tahilramani, candidate (D7):

      • This one area I kind of scratch my head a little bit. We have an issue with green space. We don’t have the land to deploy the money that we have to create additional green space. So, I don’t understand why we’re letting developers build into our Civic Center! There are certain areas that do need to be sacred in areas in our City, and I do believe that our Civic Center is one of those areas…I find it very hard to believe that in that whole discussion about what was going to happen to the YWCA building that we couldn’t come up with a more creative idea that could bring both parties together to make that project happen without building into a sacred area of our city. So, I think this is where a younger perspective can help the City Council. But we can never look at these development projects and say, we’re going to have a budget deficit problem so let’s get rid of part of our green space in the Civic Center.

      – Phil Hosp, candidate (D7): 

      • The first thing is make sure green space stays a priority after the election! Everybody comes here to talk about green space, but then the years in between elections, where did the green space issue go? Well, it didn’t go anywhere! Green space is a huge issue for district 7! As some of you alluded to, we get all the development but none of the parks…I’m sure you know I’m pushing very hard for the impact fees in proximity to the development that’s going in. There’s also a design issue: the way the pedestrians interact with the buildings, they’re building the setbacks to close to the sidewalks. These are just WALLS of apartments, and the city isn’t really following the City of Gardens approach as it should be! And I’m also a proud contributor to the Kimpton lawsuit.

      Do you agree or disagree, Yes or No, that climate change is an urgent problem and all levels of government should commit to implementing effective solutions?

      Every Council candidate said “Yes” except Tahiramani who “passed.”

      Moderator Bonnie Skolnick from the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area (Photo – Mike Pashistoran).

      Moderator Bonnie Skolnick from the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area (Photo – Mike Pashistoran).

      Questions were provided by the organizers/sponsors and the audience. With only six questions, many left wishing at least one more question had been asked. Indeed, one of the sponsor/organizers was upset with the questions asked, or not asked, as they related to their particular organization.

      Closing statements

      – Krystal Lopez Padley, candidate (D5): 

      • This election is important. Like Councilman Kennedy said, I’m happy to see such an active group here, but there are a lot of people missing here, not engaged in these discussions. For example, our district has over 18,000 residents but less than a thousand vote in these municipal elections! Send us emails as candidates; I hope I can earn your vote in District 5, and I hope we can continue to have these discussions.

      – Phil Hosp, candidate (D7):

      • We need resident-focused leadership here in Pasadena because after all, Pasadena belongs to its residents….The natural resources here in Pasadena are what helps make it great and what we really need to work hard to protect. And unless the residents have a voice and they’re heard that won’t happen.

      – Sheena Tahilramani, candidate (D7):

      • I’m running for City Council because I want to be the ideas person. I’m young, fresh-faced. I think we need to attract businesses that have a corporate social responsibility structure.

      – Bryan Witt, candidate (D7):

      • I think we can all agree that global warming is the number one challenge facing humanity. And if we don’t all come together to reduce our carbon footprint, we won’t have cities worth preserving for future generations. (BW gets his second applause here.) I think we need to take immediate action to expand our public transportation network, such as the downtown street car line, and to expand other green programs.

      Alex Menchaca, candidate (D7):

      • This discussion that we just had has never been more relevant.  As the only Latino candidate [in D7] and the child of an immigrant who cares for the natural environment, I’m scared, my friends are scared, my family is scared! When Donald Trump became President, they said he was never going to do that stuff – well, he’s doing it!…So the resistance has to start here locally. I’ll bring together a team of experts…to protect our natural environment, create walkable communities, while reducing our carbon footprint. I’ll fight tirelessly to protect our natural environment!
      Attendees had a few moments to further the discussions one-on-one with their potential political representatives (Photo - Mike Pashistoran).

      Attendees had a few moments to further the discussions one-on-one with their potential political representatives (Photo – Mike Pashistoran).

      Afterwards, the people had a few moments to further the discussions one-on-one with their potential political representatives. Attendees included Pasadena’s Mayor Terry Tornek, making his second forum; Tim Brick of the Arroyo Seco Foundation; Jonathan Edewards, president of the influential Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association; and Tim Martinez of the Arroyo & Foothills Conservancy.

      I urge you to follow up on any issues that concern you in Pasadena by contacting the candidates via email, phone, or their Facebook pages. They’ll respond if they want your vote.

      Mike Pashistoran is a contributor to ColoradoBoulevard.net. He co-administers the popular Pasadena Politics group on Facebook.

      [This article was updated for a quote correction February, 27, 12:32 p.m.]

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