Published : Friday, November 1, 2019 | 4:35 AM
City Councilmember Gene Masuda can add another name to the list of challengers for his District Four seat in the upcoming March 2020 elections.
Kevin Wheeler is a life-long resident of Pasadena, a self-branded “nonpartisan” candidate whose primary focus as councilperson would be alleviating traffic.
Wheeler joins auto body repair shop owner Joe Baghdadlian and Charlotte Bland in challenging incumbent Masuda.
“I think there’s a lot of things that the incumbent and probably the other candidates, don’t know that’s going on in the city that I do,” Wheeler told Pasadena Now. “We’ll see.”
He teaches scientific writing at Azusa Pacific University, and plays in a rock-and-roll band called Three Fingers, which will open for Los Lobos at The Rose at an upcoming performance, he said.
“I wouldn’t want to run and join a political party,” Wheeler said. “It never made sense to me. Just give me the issue and I’ll give you my opinion on it.”
If he’s partisan, it’s not in the Blue versus Red paradigm gripping the country, but in “pro” of East Pasadena, which he said generates the most revenues to the City’s coffers, but gets shortchanged on services.
Like many in that area, Wheeler fears that building apartments near a freeway is not the healthiest housing policy choice available and that the Space Bank Mini Storage project proposed for Foothill Boulevard requires a thorough vetting and deeper cleanup than the state has proposed and approved.
A good city councilman needs a “pothole” mentality, an ability to address more than big, neighborhood impacting projects and focus on the little things that affect daily life, he said.
A lament from a friend about the condition of Hamilton Park caused Wheeler to do a reconnaissance of the lot and he did not like what he saw.
“When we played up there in the ‘70s and ‘80s it would always flood because it’s on top of a reservoir, but now it’s totally overgrown,” he observed. “Worse than when we played there. It’s like four or five inches of weeds that are covering the golfer holes in all the fields.
“So, if elected, I will fight to get that park in good shape,” Wheeler pledged.
His prior experience in politics was as his eight grade class’ president and his knowledge of municipal proceedings comes from watching streaming videos of City Council meetings.
Wheeler’s candidacy is rooted in a desire to preserve a kind of life he knew growing up in Pasadena. While he is not opposed to affordable housing and mixed use development, he recognizes the congestion they represent and doesn’t necessarily consider them “progress,” in every instance.
“I want to say how cool it was growing up here,” Wheeler remarked. “You know, growing up on my street and meeting my buddies, riding our bikes and going up to the mountains. When I was a kid, my friend’s uncle roadied for Van Halen and I got to go to those concerts backstage. I was texting with Eddie’s guitar tech earlier today.”