Pasadena Mayor Forms Committee in Favor of Municipal Sales Tax Measures I and J

Published : Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | 4:37 AM

Mayor Terry Tornek. File photo

The Mayor of Pasadena has launched a new organization planning to capitalize on social media to advocate for the City’s proposed sales tax increase and tax-sharing ballot measures.

But the effort is a personal project of the Mayor Terry Tornek and like-minded supporters of Measure I and Measure J, and not part of his official capacity, he said.

As City Attorney Michele Bagneris reminded the council during Monday’s meeting, city officials are prohibited from using city resources to campaign for or against any ballot initiative. But they are free to do so on their own.

As an elected official, “You just have to be mindful,” Tornek said, “There are some things that are a little bit tricky, but for the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. You just don’t use any City resources to campaign with. It’s really no different than when you’re an incumbent and you’re running for office. It’s that same fine line.”

The new committee is formally called “Yes on Measure I and Measure J, Move Pasadena Forward, A Committee Controlled by Mayor Terry Tornek.”

The first campaign report is due to be filed Thursday, he added.

Papers filed thus far shows about $2,000 in contributions. Tornek said recent, significant contributions will be appearing on future filings.

But for now, he declined to say who else is involved.

The committee’s first public action was the announcement of a video contest.

Pasadena residents are invited to create 15-second video clips advocating for Measure I, which would raise the city’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent, or Measure J, which would send a third of the new income to the cash-strapped Pasadena Unified School District.

A top video will be selected each week leading up to November’s election and featured on the organization’s website, yesoniandj.com, organizers said in a written statement. At the end of the contest, an overall winner will be selected and given a $100 gift certificate “from the Pasadena merchant or restaurant of the winner’s choice.”

“We thought, let’s turn people’s creative juices loose and give them an opportunity to have a little fun with it,” Tornek said. “This doesn’t have to be dreary. Campaigning can be serious, but it doesn’t have to be dreary.”

Tornek added that he expects the contest will help generate some good ideas, as locals add their perspectives to the mix.