Challengers Aplenty for Pasadena’s March 2020 Elections

But state’s new voting schedule means runoff finalists have to campaign for nine months before the deciding election

Published : Monday, December 9, 2019 | 6:00 AM

Pasadena's March 3, 2020 elections are expected to draw a larger voter turnout since it will coincide with the Presidential Primary. Pictured above is the 2018 turnout in Pasadena which saw large numbers of voters stand in line for hours, voting even as darkness fell. Images via Twitter from @JaimeRLevy and @janellezara

Incumbents are facing more challengers than ever before in upcoming local elections, but those challengers may not be financially prepared for a nine-month campaign should they qualify for a runoff election.

In this year’s election, 18 people are expected to be running in four council contests and the Mayor’s race.

Mayor Emeritus Bill Bogaard said the contentious atmosphere that has divided the country has also led to more people paying attention to politics locally and nationally.

“This is a politically intense period in history because of the situation in Washington,” Bogaard said. “The mentality from so many people is to be frustrated and concerned. You can argue its positive because issues will be debated openly and decided because more people are involved.”

Table above based upon document published by City Clerk Mark Jomsky

Last week several challengers promised to support a green new deal at City Hall during a rally by local high school students hoping to bring attention to climate change.

In the last election, Mayoral Candidate Jacque Robinson pushed for rent control. Robinson and Tornek also supported a minimum wage increase.

The Council eventually unanimously approved the minimum wage increase, and an emergency moratorium barring rent increases and no-cause evictions.

“It seems to me politics in general — and that includes local politics — have become of greater concern to people,” Bogaard said.

This year, Mayor Terry Tornek is facing off against District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo, former senior commissioner and mayoral candidate Jason Harden, and newcomers Major Williams and Michael Geragos.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Tyron Hampton is the only candidate running unopposed this year after two prospectives did pull papers but failed to file before the Dec. 6 deadline expired.

In District 2, Felicia Williams, Tricia Keane, Kevin Litwin and Boghos Patatian have qualified for the seat being vacated by Margaret McAustin. Another candidate, Alex Heiman, pulled papers and still has until December 11 to file.

In District 4, Masuda faces challenges from Joe Baghdadlian, Charlotte Bland, and Kevin Wheeler.

District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison faces two challengers, Tamerlin Godley and Ryan Bell.

When those same seats were up in 2015, Margaret McAustin, Masuda and Madison ran unopposed in districts 2, 4 and 6.

The 11 candidates that ran were seeking seats being vacated by incumbents in District 1 and the Mayor’s race, eventually won by Tyron Hampton and Terry Tornek respectively.

Races for vacant seats have traditionally attracted more candidates. This year, five candidates are vying for the District 2 seat being vacated by McAustin.

In fact, McAustin never faced a challenger in her three terms in office.

Robinson faced just one challenger in James Smith in 2011. That same year, Bogaard ran unopposed, five candidates ran for the vacant District 4 seat, eventually won by Masuda, while Madison faced Carolyn Naber.

Candidates must win 50% plus one vote in the March 3 election to win the election.

If no one wins outright, the runoff race will be decided nine months later, which could force candidates to spend tens of thousands of dollars to remain viable over the extended interim period.