Although their focus remains on the Coronavirus, incumbent Mayor Terry Tornek and challenger Victor Gordo, told Pasadena Now they have returned to limited campaigning in the Nov. 4th mayoral race.
Tornek said that although his campaign has been sidetracked by the virus and the focus on social justice issues, including his commitment to bring a police reform proposal to the council by August 10th, he has been talking to supporters and holding multiple Zoom meetings during the week.
“The backbone of my campaign activity in the past has been going door to door throughout the city,” Tornek said. “That’s not viable or responsible now, and I would not be welcomed by most showing up on their porch without a mask.”
Tornek and Gordo are squaring off in the Nov. 3rd election.
Although Election Day is still four months away, the actual election will begin even sooner as most voters will most likely vote by mail.
In the primary, Gordo finished first with 18,586 votes, or 46.52 percent, to Tornek’s 16,607 and 41.57 percent.
But almost immediately after the election, the city was forced to declare a local health emergency as the pandemic ramped up and both candidates stopped campaigning to focus first on the city’s response to the virus and then its continuing economic recovery.
“Suspending my campaign was the right thing to do in order to focus on our primary duty — taking care of Pasadena residents, businesses and the city’s economy,” Gordo said.
The winner of the race will set the agenda as the city battles its way through a tough economic recovery, and possibly a second wave of the virus, amid an affordable housing shortage.
The next mayor could even lead the city through a court battle as City Hall continues to push back against Sacramento lawmakers looking to establishing laws that soften city ordinances and give developers sweeping privileges.
As the Mayor leads the council through those difficult issues, he will also be called on by political activists seeking social justice reform.
“We have an urgent need for engaged common-sense leadership in City Hall that’s focused on the needs of the residents of Pasadena.” Gordo said.
Tornek points to the success of Measure I, the three-quarter cent tax increase as a major reason why the city was able to undertake a significant number of initiatives during the pandemic, which has left a $30 million deficit in the budget.
“That money is why we don’t have to cut services in spite of this budgetary squeeze,” Tornek said. “I think that’s important for people to know. This is good example of why building those reserves was the right thing to do. Moving on Measure I has really proved to be a salvation in terms of what we’re confronted with now.”
When he announced his re-election bid, Tornek highlighted the decisive defeat of the 710 freeway extension proposal, the early efforts to revitalize the Arroyo Seco, and continued efforts to preserve and protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
“No one would ever accuse me of trying to please everyone or to say yes to everyone,” Tornek said. “I want people to like me, but at the end of the day, I think it’s important to listen to them and, and then make a decision that’s in the best interest of the city, and that’s what I try to do.
“I’m pretty outspoken and I’m pretty direct rather than trying to sort of talk around the issue, I try to go right at the issue and that doesn’t play well with everyone.”
Gordo has held a seat on the Pasadena City Council for 20 years. For almost 10 of those years, he served as president of the Rose Bowl Operating Committee, overseeing its renovation and growth as one of the City’s key economic engines while striving to reduce its neighborhood impacts.
He cites his focus as quality of life issues, including opposing overdevelopment, fighting crime, protecting fire and police services, ensuring safe neighborhoods, upgrading Pasadena’s parks, and replacing problem liquor stores with affordable housing.
“It was an honor to receive such overwhelming support from the people of Pasadena for my campaign for Mayor and finish in first place in the March primary,” Gordo said.
Tornek and Gordo have each pivoted on police oversight in the light of hundreds of protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing at the hands of police.
The Pasadena Police Officers Association did not support either candidate.
Tornek sits on the Public Safety Committee which, under Chair John Kennedy’s leadership, is leading the way on the decades long call for police oversight that went unheeded by local politicians.
Gordo chairs the Economic Development and Technology Committee, which led the way on the city’s the minimum wage ordinance. Gordo also pushed for the city to reopen committees and commissions during the Safer-At-Home order.
“While I have not been actively campaigning since March, I am humbled and energized by the fact that countless people have reached out to support our campaign to get involved and contribute to our effort to create a better Pasadena,” Gordo said.