Council Candidates Tackle Range of Issues at Forum

Demonstrating that it’s officially campaign season, local political candidates kicked off this week with the first of a handful of forums, this one featuring six of the formal candidates for the three City Council seats to be decided in the Nov. 3 election.
Monday’s forum, an approximately two-hour event in which candidates appeared via Zoom, was presented by Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action and the South Pasadenan. Linda Wah, the Area 5 board member for Pasadena City College, moderated. Candidates were given a round of five questions, with a minute to answer each, followed by another five questions with 30 seconds per answer, a rebuttal or clarification round, and a final round with a minute to answer each of five questions advanced by viewers.
Here are highlight responses from each of the candidates; the full video recording of the forum can be viewed at

• On police reform: “When they go out [on homeless and wellness calls], we need to make sure we have a team that includes mental health, social workers and medical personnel who go with that group.”
• On the state’s housing mandate: “We also have to have certain planning ordinances in place to at least see what we can do to bring some of those housing units in, but we’ll never come close to those 2,000” ordered by Sacramento.
• On traffic issues: “We need to somehow slow the traffic down on Meridian. Fremont also needs to be redesigned and possibly move the traffic onto Fair Oaks, and [we need to] do synchronization projects that we need to help move traffic better.”
• On homelessness initiatives: “With [Proposition H funding], it was to help do the motel vouchers, to get a caseworker working three days a week. It’s a very important program and we are spending very good money to work with the homeless.”
• On how involved the community should be in hiring a new city manager: “I think it is important to get input from the community, but it’s up to the City Council itself to make the decision.”

• On police reform: “We have to review our current police policies, training, existing complaints and past conduct. We have to ensure there will be
community-based dialogues between police and our communities of color.”
• On city leadership turnover: “We keep losing that institutional knowledge, and it’s not just a pay issue. It’s an employee happiness and leadership issue.”
• On the homelessness crisis: “We should have a program where we train the unhoused people to gain employment. I work with vet homeless in L.A. and we provide them with clothes and train them on how to respond to questions in interviews.”
• On the state’s housing mandate: “I don’t want a massive housing development in a strictly residential zone, but we have to be compact and fit in our existing city design.”
• On planning for revenue stability: “We can develop [city blocks] into senior affordable housing, with mixed use. We can provide for our seniors, which is over 60% of our population, to survive in South Pasadena and spend their limited income in our city.”

• On the state’s housing mandate: “I recognize the need for affordable housing for young families and residents so they can become a part of this great city. However, I want to make sure any development does not outstrip the city’s infrastructure and overburden the local schools.”
• On police reform: “I would look to the Public Safety Commission’s recommendations for police reform as well as the Finance Commission’s recommendations on police spending to strike a balance.”
• On the crisis regarding the unhoused: “Many homeless people have underlying conditions that have contributed to their homelessness. We need to address these issues in order to solve the problem.”
• On local requirements for affordable housing: “We are stronger with a more diverse community. If private developers understand that there is an ordinance already in place, they will work in the beginning [of the process] to have those units.”
• On Black Lives Matter activism: “I was happy to see more and more people seeking to understand what racism means.”

• On police reform: “Every police chief across the county will tell you their department is the largest social services agency in their jurisdiction. We have some very well-trained officers, but we’re asking them to be social workers, psychologists and mental health workers, and that’s not the best fit.”
• On the state’s housing mandate: “We need to have smart growth plans and policies in place. Part of when the smart planning starts is when the Southern California Association of Governments sends out a survey asking [cities what they can do]; we need to respond to that, and we didn’t. If we had submitted our feasibility studies a year ago when they were requested, we would not have been allocated the units from other cities that did respond.”
• On healthy government: “We’ve had a lot of public records requests, which tells me there’s no transparency. Fewer public records requests tells me we’re being a better managed city.”
• On local requirements for affordable housing: “The last three housing developments approved did not have any low-income housing units and I don’t understand why that was. It’s not a new conversation. Part of diversity is having people from lower, median and higher incomes.”
• On the homeless crisis: “Historically most homeless facilities have a policy of being drug- and alcohol-free before they stay there. Utah takes the other approach. They say, let’s give them housing, a place to sleep, a shower every day, ways to restore their dignity, and the other parts become much easier to do.”

• On stabilizing revenue: “Instead of planning on 20-30% of our businesses failing, we should actually put things in place so they don’t fail. A lot of our small businesses are beloved members of our community and they need our help.”
• On local requirements for affordable housing: “It’s really the only way we will get affordable housing plans ahead of time rather than forcing them to include them later. I think it’s imperative.”
• On Black Lives Matter activism: “We need to look at every aspect of our city’s planning and local laws and how we can make a more equitable future.”
• On the state’s housing mandate: “I’ve always hoped for the best and planned for the worst, so I believe we need to build an appropriate amount. We have families here who need affordable housing, and that’s how we keep them here.”
• On making cuts to city services: “We need to make sure when we make budget cuts that we make balanced decisions across all departments and not outsource too many roles to maintain the same level of services throughout the community.”

• On stabilizing local revenue: “We need to have more sales and property tax come in. Sensible development will help us. I’m not talking about Alhambra buildout or Pasadena buildout, but something that makes sense for us.”
• On police reform: “We need to make sure we are getting the proper level of oversight so that people of color, minorities who feel they are being mistreated, are part of the process.”
• On traffic issues: “Residents are justifiably angry at the city’s lack of action here. We do need to spend some money. We need traffic calming measures, and I’ll fight to make sure funding is provided for that.”
• On local affordable housing requirements: “We’re not going to get affordable housing otherwise. We have to preserve our economic diversity in the city, and this is one of our tools. I have to say, developers are going to make a lot of money building market-rate units. They can afford to put some affordable units in.”
• On Black Lives Matter activism: “There’s been far too much apathy and it’s time to stand up and say no to [apathy]. We need to have different tools available and we need to make sure we understand our own bias.”