Pasadena City Council, School Board Candidates Await Tuesday’s Elections

Hopefuls offer last-minute thoughts on campaigns, goals and election night

Published : Monday, March 6, 2017 | 6:34 AM

With Tuesday’s Consolidated Municipal and Special Elections less than 24 hours away, the nine candidates for three City Council seats and the seven candidates for four Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) seats are making a last-minute push for votes and anxiously looking forward to tomorrow night’s results.

District 5 incumbent Victor Gordo faces two opponents — education activist Aida Morales and writer Krystal Lopez Podley — while District 7 incumbent Andy Wilson, who was appointed by the City Council in 2015 to fill the seat left vacant by the election of Mayor Terry Tornek, faces four challengers – attorney Phil Hosp, Amtrak employee Bryan Witt, Attorney Alex Menchaca, and PR consultant Sheena Tahilramani.

Incumbent John Kennedy is running unopposed for his District 3 seat.

There are four PUSD incumbents and three challengers vying for seats in four School Board districts. District 1 incumbent and board president Kimberly Kenne faces former attorney Rita Miller, while District 3 incumbent Adrienne Ann Mullen faces PUSD classified employee Michelle Richardson-Bailey. Former Board President and District 5 incumbent, Elizabeth Pomeroy faces Muir High School teacher Matthew Baron. Scott Phelps, the incumbent in District 7, is running unopposed.

Though many local voters will be casting their ballots by mail, while some voted over the weekend at Jackie Robinson Center, a low voter turnout is still expected.

Pasadena Now reached out to the candidates for their final thoughts as the election winds down to a furious close, as well as any predictions or election night plans.

Incumbent and PUSD Board President Kim Kenne, said, “It’s hard to say. I have worked to reach out to my constituents so that they have the information they need to cast their ballots,” and added, “I am satisfied that I ran a strong campaign.”

Kenne also said that she had no formal plans for election night.

“It has been extremely difficult to get a handle on the race,” said candidate Moore. “Ms. Keene is an experienced opponent. However, I think the parents and all PUSD stakeholders would like a change. I am a strong candidate who has the experience and education to be an asset to the board. Both the National Women’s Political Caucus-Greater Pasadena Area and the Pasadena Armenian National Committee of America have endorsed me. The support of the organizations make my campaign even stronger.”

Moore added, “I do feel that I ran a competitive and strong campaign. I did not miss an opportunity to speak with voters. I attended every invitation to speak and present my ideas and information. As for election night, I don’t want to jinx the outcome! I will be at home that evening.”

“I have no prediction for the elections,” said former PUSD Board President Elizabeth Pomeroy. “I do feel I’ve run a strong campaign, expressing my views and plans for PUSD and support for public education in numerous candidate forums and interviews; telling my qualifications and plans through mailings; walking my precincts for many hours to listen to my constituents about their wants and needs from PUSD; and winning a number of important endorsements from individuals, organizations and the media.”

Muir High School teacher Matthew Baron, who is running against Dr. Pomeroy, did not respond to our questions.

PUSD classified employee Michelle Richardson-Bailey seemed confident in her race against District 3 incumbent Adrienne Ann Mullen, who did not respond to to e-mail questions from Pasadena Now.

“All I can tell you is that I feel really good,” Richardson-Bailey said Sunday. “My campaign has had a tremendous outpouring of support from the community therefore I am very confident that our platform is the winning platform.”

In the City Council races, Alejandro Menchaca, facing Andy Wilson in District 7, said Friday, “I can’t predict the outcome of the race, but I feel we have run a very strong race. Our campaign is connecting with a large number of voters. In the face of two well-funded Republican candidates, I have emerged as the most competitive Democrat in the race, and am confident that our values are most in line with those that Pasadena cherishes. I am very hopeful that I will get into the runoff.”

Menchaca offered that he was “very proud of the race I have run,” adding, “We have run a positive, ideas-based campaign. I also feel that I have connected with voters at the various forums by articulating a message that is heavy on specifics and that provides aspirational ideas for what Pasadena can become.”

“Our message of enhancing the walkability of District 7 by proactively engaging the community through technology and visioning workshops while also soliciting the expertise of the foremost experts in bike paths, traffic congestion, and parking has also resonated with voters,” Menchaca continued.

“We have also offered some concrete ideas on how to create a more thriving, synergistic business community,” he said.

Menchaca also said that his campaign is “exploring options” with regard to election night.

PR consultant Sheena Tahilramani, who is also opposing Wilson, said, “I predict that the two candidates that spent the most money will likely go into a runoff. If they don’t, I think the one that loses will lose as a result of his direct mail campaign and perhaps that’s an opportunity for a third candidate like myself to garner votes. If it does go into a runoff between the top two money spenders, I think it will be a slam dunk for the incumbent.”

Tahilramani also offered a long view of her campaign, explaining, “This was my first campaign. Let’s just say it was a good primer for future potential campaigns and I had a lot of fun. There are many things I’d do differently next time, like have a campaign manager.”

As for election eve, Tahilramani joked, “I’m going to be having a victory party on my couch watching ‘House of Cards’ reruns. Just kidding. No victory parties for me.”

Candidate Phil Hosp said succinctly: “I feel good. Over the last six months, I have personally spoken with over 2,200 voters and walked over 150 miles all over the District. Nothing is planned for election night because I will be campaigning until the end. I will wait for the results with my family at home.”

“I have no idea where the election will go for District 7,” said candidate Bryan Witt. “We have 5 highly qualified candidates with differing, and even similar, views on the main issues. Although the incumbent seems to be open-minded on many issues, I’m not sure he has the same commitment to progressive causes that I do.

“He definitely favors a pragmatic approach to most city business,” Witt continued, “while I am a dreamer that believes in possibilities. I know that our city can do much better with the key themes that I have advanced throughout this campaign.

“I have done the best I could with the resources I had at my disposal,” Witt continued, explaining, “I got into this race late, and to date, only the Pasadena Police Officers Association and one of my colleagues from Amtrak have contributed to my campaign. I don’t owe anyone any big favors. I actually had to loan the campaign $3,150 to do one targeted mailing and am hoping some of our residents can help me to recover that with small donations. But even if I can’t recover that money…it will have been totally worth it. I love this city and don’t want to see it ruined by reckless property speculation.”

As for election night, Witt offered, “I don’t really like the idea of victory parties…the business of the people is quite serious and things can change in a heartbeat. In the event that I win, I will be available in front of the people’s house at City Hall, when the results are certified by the City Clerk.”

Finally, incumbent Andy Wilson said over the weekend, “I believe it is an advantage to have established myself in the City over these last 20 years, and also to have more than 100 endorsements from key community leaders including Mayor Tornek and prior Mayor Bogaard. I’m also hopeful that several months of intensively walking neighborhoods has made a strong impact with voters. That being said, with 5 candidates on the ballot it will be challenging to get the required 50%, but we continue to push hard to make that a reality on March 7th.

Wilson added, “We have been working hard for months. We have an incredible base of committed and energetic volunteers. We have a strong message and a 20 year track records of service. At the outset, we committed to run a campaign focused on issues and my track record rather than attacking others. We believe this strategy is consistent with the values of our City and will carry the day.”

None of the three candidates for the District 5 seat — the incumbent Victor Gordo, nor his opponents, Krystal Lopez Padley and Aida Morales, responded to inquiries from Pasadena Now regarding their campaigns.

John Kennedy, who is running unopposed to retain his Third District council seat, did not respond to our email questionnaire.

A full list of candidates and measures county-wide is available at www.lavote.net.

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