Campaign in Favor of Two City Sales Tax Measures Picks Up Steam, Finds a Friend in Pasadena Firefighters

Published : Thursday, October 4, 2018 | 5:55 AM

The Pasadena Firefighters Local 809 has donated $25,000 to a campaign committee formed by Mayor Terry Tonek in favor of a new sales tax measure which if passed could bring $21 million a year into City coffers and help improve fire safety, repair aging infrastructure and pay for essential services within Pasadena.

The “Yes on Measure I and Measure J, Move Pasadena Forward” campaign also reported a donation of $9,500 from the Pasadena Education Foundation. If both Measure I and J are passed on next month’s ballot, Pasadena public schools stand to collect one-third of the revenues, about $7 million annually.

Those two contributions form the bulk of about $41,000 in funds reported by the campaign committee in its filings over recent days.

Scott Austin, president of the Pasadena Fire Fighters Association, said the measures have won the have the support of his group because the revenues will provide funding to repair and upgrade aging fire stations that have not been retrofitted for decades.

“The residents and visitors of Pasadena expect our firefighters to be able to respond during any emergency, Austin said. “Nobody wants to make an emergency worse by having firefighters and paramedics trapped inside a fallen fire station.”

Tornek, who is campaigning for the twin measures and managing the committee as a private citizen, added, “this is going to be a fully funded campaign. The first mailing should go out this week.”

Tornek also said that all of City’s Councilmembers have held or will hold information presentations this month on the two measures.

“Those will be just informational meetings where they’re not allowed to advocate, but they can present information and they can answer questions,” explained Tornek.

Tornek would actively advocate at his own non-official community meetings.

“I’m talking to apartment owners,” he said. “There, I will be doing advocacy. I’m allowed to do advocacy if it’s not a city meeting.”

Stressing the need to raise the profile of the tax measures, Tornek also lamented the fact that the sales tax measures will be “buried” on the last part of the City’s ballot.

“In terms of the impact on people who live in Pasadena, I and J may be the most impactful of all … on the ballot, and yet it’s buried way down at the bottom of the ballot. And we’re afraid that there’s going to be substantial drop off. There could be a 10 or a 15 percent drop off in voter participation from the top of the ballot to the bottom of the ballot.”

“So,” said Tornek, “The more that you can shine a light on it and make people aware of it, the better off we are. We want people to know about it.”