On a picture-perfect Saturday last weekend, more than two dozen supporters joined Councilmember and mayoral candidate Victor Gordo for a rally and walk through the Jefferson Park neighborhood Saturday.
The four-term councilmember is challenging incumbent Mayor Terry Tornek. Former City Commissioner Jason Hardin and businessman Major Williams are also running.
At Saturday’s event several local firefighters and their families showed up to support Gordo.
“Firefighters have backed Victor Gordo for the last twenty years,” said Scott Austin, former president of the Pasadena Firefighters Association. “Victor’s always been there for the community, in supporting and maintaining our staffing levels, and bringing the necessary resources to provide good public safety.”
Among the supporters was congressional candidate Christian Daly, who is running against long-time Congresswoman Judy Chu.
“I’m coming out to show my support, in terms of his work for the community, and his work for the city, and also what he is doing, which is standing up, and that’s exactly what I’m doing, is standing up,” Daly said.
As Gordo walked the neighborhood filled with original Craftsman homes and not an apartment building in sight, he lamented the “lack of local control” brought about by a new state law that increases the number of accessory dwelling units, or “granny flats,” allowed city-wide.
The law is one of several designed to increase the amount of affordable housing throughout the State. Gordo said he is concerned the laws will eliminate traditional single-family neighborhoods.
Gordo pointed out a dark green Craftsman house on a corner with a distinct and matching unit in the rear yard.
“Here you have an example where it is fitting, matching this beautiful Craftsman home, and matching the style,” he said. “That makes sense, but that was constructed under the City’s regulations. And it’s beautiful.”
Gordo said that the city has been “allowing and encouraging responsible granny flats, but now the State has changed the rules, and could actually allow for three of those units.” Gordo said he feared a rise in “speculators” who could swoop in and build an increasing number of the units, which would change the character of the neighborhoods, and not necessarily be affordable.
Gordo walked alone through the neighborhood, as members of his team fanned out across the neighborhood. In some cases, neighbors were meeting him for the first time. He detailed his history in Pasadena, beginning with being raised in a garage with his immigrant parents, attending Pasadena High, working as a waiter at Rose City Diner, and selling stuffed footballs at the Rose Bowl, before becoming an attorney.
“That’s Mr. Chamberlain’s house,” he said as he pointed to a California-style bungalow. “I knew their son and the whole family.”
Gordo laughed as he recalled that Chamberlain was the one who showed him how to tie a necktie. Some months later, Gordo borrowed a suit from Chamberlain, for an important meeting with Pasadena Police to discuss the Pasadena “Host” program.
“It was too big, and it was so hot that day,” he laughed. “I must have looked ridiculous.”
During the walk, Gordo spoke to a mother who supported charter schools, others were concerned about the homeless, and a 90-year old gentleman who explained that woodpeckers had damaged his palm trees so badly that the City was demanding that he have them removed at his expense. Gordo told him he would look into the matter upon his return to City Hall Tuesday.
As he walked, the subject of facing off against an incumbent mayor arose. Why would he not wait until the seat was open?
“I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the city and the people of this city, and I listened carefully,” he began. “The common theme was that people don’t feel listened to or responded to, that things seem to be on auto-pilot. After speaking to them, I decided that the time is right now.”
Gordo said that after people told him that they want to return to a local government that puts residents first, he felt “compelled to run.”
L.A. County will begin its election “season” February 21, through March 3. In a new system, residents will be able to vote at any L.A. County voting center countywide, up until the actual Election Day, which is March 3.