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Council Appoints Jessica Rivas to Fill District 5 Seat

New Councilmember selected, sworn in on Thursday night

Published on Friday, February 5, 2021 | 5:24 am
Jessica Rivas shown making her case to the Pasadena City Council on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, She was chosen from four other candidates to fill the District 5 seat left vacant when Victor Gordo won the Mayor’s race. Inset: as Mayor Gordo watches, City Clerk Mark Jomsky swears in Rivas to the district 5 Council seat. (Screenshots courtesy of Pasadena Media)

The Pasadena City Council on Monday unanimously voted to appoint Jessica Rivas to fill the District 5 seat vacated by Mayor Victor Gordo.

The council passed the motion after Rivas, Michael Warner, Martha Shenkenberg and Patrick Amsbry made their cases for the seat.

Rivas was sworn in by City Clerk Mark Jomsky. 

Gordo ran the meeting from council chambers where the applicants each made six-minute presentations. The applicants were sequestered during the interviews when they were not making their presentations.

The City Council participated via Zoom. 

“What we are really asking for is someone willing to serve all of the people of Pasadena. We applaud all of the candidates for their willingness to step forward,” Gordo said. 

Gordo put forward the motion for Rivas.

“I invite all four to continue to be involved,” Gordo said. “I think as I look around the dais and as I talk to people in the district. With all of the issues that are facing us. I think Ms. Rivas has a distinct background and life experience and knowledge of government at all levels.” 

By random drawing Rivas drew the right to make her presentation first, followed by Warner, Shenkenberg, and Ambry.

“Where the rubber really meets the road in our democracy is right here in this council chamber,” Rivas said.

Rivas had stiff competition. Warner served on the Code Commission and has worked with the homeless. Shenkenberg served on Leadership Pasadena and Amsbry has worked on the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center board. 

“I started my involvement in the Pasadena Community in 1962 when I attended Pasadena City College,” Warner said. 

Shenkenberg and Amsbry used PowerPoint to make their presentations.

“What I really do well is take a mess and organize them and come out with an outcome,” Shenkenberg said. 

Amsbry said he has had to make tough decisions in his business life especially budget decisions. 

“I’m a hand raiser, a doer I jump in and I do it,” Amsbry said. 

Rivas is the third District 5 Councilmember since William Crowfoot was elected to represent the district in 1993. At that time, City Council district lines were redrawn according to the U.S. Census figures to increase voting opportunities for the city’s growing Latino population, which has been steadily growing since the 1980s.

“It’s my calling to serve the greater good,” Rivas said. “I understand the day-to-day functions of government.” 

According to state law, cities must review the district boundaries of local governing boards to determine if any group is being left out of the political process and determine whether they could be better represented.

The seat was previously held by Mayor Gordo. Gordo, who served as Crowfoot’s field representative, resigned the seat after he won the race for mayor against Tornek in November. 

There won’t be much time for celebration. The new council member will help lead the city through its post-pandemic financial recovery and will choose a commissioner for the new Police Oversight Commission. The city is also in the midst of an affordable housing shortage and violence is on the rise. 

“I’ve had the good fortune of serving in District 5. I love all of the residents of Pasadena, but the people of District 5 will always have a special place with me and my family,” Gordo said. 

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