It’ll never happen – but what if it did?
By Leonard Sterne
Once upon a time – specifically, on March 2, 2020 – Pasadena mayoral candidates Terry Tornek, Victor Gordo and Major Williams were carpooling to the venerable Southern California Convention of Corporate-as-Hell Politicasters. As it rounded a curve driving up the San Gabriel Mountains, the car swerved off the road and took a terrible tumble. Upon arriving at the hospital, each passenger was declared to have over a dozen broken bones and therefore had to withdraw his candidacy. The following day, the only remaining candidate, corporate-free progressive Jason Hardin, won one hundred and ten percent of the vote.
On day one of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, he instructed the city attorney to draft a city-elections ordinance banning all donations from corporations, LLC’s and super PAC’s, and capping all other donations at $250 per individual. The city council, normally sycophantic to their donors in real estate, fossil fuels and law enforcement but moved by the mayor’s bold vision, did a volte-face and passed the resolution unanimously.
On day two of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, he and the city council improved on California’s new rent control law, AB 1482, by limiting the percentage by which a landlord can increase rent through an appointed rent control board and thereby keeping good faith renters housed. Additionally, he and the city made it compulsory that all new developments have 30 percent of their units be inclusionary of renters of lower income brackets, and speedily developed affordable housing, snuffing out the homelessness crisis.
On day three of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, he and the city council fired police chief John Perez in light of accusations made by his own officers of knowledge of the department’s gunrunning racket prior to the scandal erupting in 2018, and hired a suitable replacement. They also cashiered city manager Steve Mermell, who, despite having no background in affordable housing projects, oversaw the Heritage Housing Partners project on Orange Grove and Lincoln and, in an unheard-of move, had the city, rather than the developer, defray the project’s insurance costs. They engaged a replacement indisposed to give handouts to developers at the taxpayer’s expense, and sensible enough to let such projects be handled by Pasadena’s brilliant, Harvard-educated housing director, Bill Huang.
On day four of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, he and the city banned the Pasadena Police Department from collaborating with ICE and revised the department’s use of force policy to prohibit the use of deadly force if a suspect does not have a firearm, barring the most exceptional circumstances. ICE raids evocative of Nuremberg circa 1938 and despicable incidents like the near-shooting and brutal beating of unarmed Chris Ballew in 2017 became a thing of the past, and documented and undocumented residents’ trust in law enforcement, and public safety, surged.
On day five of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, he and the city council banned the use of coal and other fossil fuels by the Pasadena Department of Water and Power and converted to solar, wind, and hydroelectric. Additionally, they made enormous investments in public transportation powered by renewables. Pasadena no longer contributed to the international destruction of human civilization we tamely call “global warming.”
And on day six of Mayor Hardin’s tenure, all was Shangri-la in the city of Pasadena. Corporations were now prevented from buying local elections, rent control and affordable housing had addressed rent insecurity and the homelessness crisis, corrupt city staff had been dismissed, police were prevented from deploying dangerous and unnecessary tactics and terrorizing undocumented members of the community, and Pasadena became a beacon of carbon-neutral governance. On this day, Mayor Hardin rested.
The foregoing allegory is not about Jason Hardin, who will be elected mayor of Pasadena directly after cats and dogs enter into loving, monogamous relationships and pigs acquire the ability to levitate. It’s about how a progressive, visionary candidate with enough support from the community could transform Pasadena. The city is a profluent fountainhead of such progressives, but none of them ran for mayor this year; we must make 2024 a different story.
Leonard Sterne is a resident of Pasadena.
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