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City Council Candidates Forum @ PCC

City Council Candidates Forum @ PCC

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government & report the facts.”  <  Will Rogers, Actor/Humorist

Of course not all views of Pasadena are wonderful or beautiful.  We’re not perfect, for sure.  Let’s take a peak at some other Pasadena views.

We’ve had a week to reflect on the very 1st political forum of the new year in Pasadena. The cheerful, “goodwill toward all men” and wishing each other “good cheer” and a “Happy New Year!” holiday season was barely a week over and in this past second week the take no prisoners political season promptly rushed in to fill the vacuum in Pasadena with a candidate forum (NOT a debate) for the city council and public school district elections.

Hosted by Pasadena City College, organized by ACT Pasadena an organization which, “endorse and support progressive issues and candidates…”,  three council candidates were in attendance for district 5 and four showed up from district 7.  And so did your loyal photographer. Before I arrived, the school district held it’s own candidates forum.

This was the first sharing of views of the 2017 political season.  Perhaps that’s why the candidates came out slow in round one to create the most mild-mannered, respectful – almost bland – political debate/forum my old mind can recall.

The audience didn’t help:  no angry shout-outs to the politicians, no protesters with protest signs or name calling, nobody threw in a bombshell statement or promise on some issue.  Not even one big round of applause for something a candidate said, not that there was anything deserving of such response.

And I know what you’re thinking:  No, no protester had to be carried out of the lounge kicking & screaming in handcuffs. Not to say they those types weren’t in the hall.

They sat like they were in church.  Well, politics is like a religion for some.  Anyhows, perhaps the readers noticed some excitement I missed that night!

No fireworks, no surprises. We the people just took it all in, in a sort of holiday hangover.


The moderator asked about 6-7 questions centered on:  a lack of affordable housing and the related inclusionary housing ordinance & in-lieu of fee intended to promote affordable housing, gentrification, police oversight (of course),  balancing the budget, development, illegal immigrants, and residential tenant eviction.

By now, you may have read the conventional news stories on this or even viewed the 3 hour video recording.   If you want the details, word for word punches, sweat on the brow views, or the non-verbal expressions in the political ring that night, etc, read further until you reach the link to the 3-hour video.

As an alternative to what’s been said & shown before, here’s my report.  I was there as a photographer rather than journalist, observing more than listening.


There appeared to be more life and insight before and after the forum.  If anyone was the winner of such a forum it was probably the incumbents.  I estimated 80% seats were filled.

Some of whom I noticed that night were the usual suspects you’d expect at something like this:  city officials, the Playhouse District Association & PCC board chairmen, Pasadena Media executive director, Pasadena Parklets guru, Robin’s BBQ Chef/Owner,  a Pasadena Police department photographer, college professors, lawyers (of course), retired Mayor Bill Bogaard, a local historian, retired Pasadena Chief of Fire Calvin Wells, the candidates handlers/aides, and a couple of the school district and city council members not up for reelection.


The political candidates face We The People.  L-R: Gordo, Lopez-Padley, Morales, Hosp,  Tahilramani, Wilson, Witt.




On the left, moderator John Buchanan: “We ask you not to cheer, boo, be gesturing in some weird way, or, some other Trumpian act.”

On the right, incumbent district 5 city councilman Victor Gordo  got the forum started:  “I arrived in Pasadena at age 5.  Since then, I’ve done about everything in Pasadena…that’s legal! (Gordo is an attorney.)  I’ve delivered the Pasadena Star News, I’ve waited tables at the old Rose City Diner, taught school in Pasadena, worked at Day One, and been a Field Representative while in law school.”

“I’ve focused my work on several things: Protecting the neighborhoods of Pasadena. Protecting the integrity & reputation of our city.  And, insuring that our workforce is the best we can put together for serving the residents of this city.”


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Krystal Lopez-Padley 5th district candidate (center):  “It took us 6-months to find a landlord willing to rent to a family with children at an affordable price.  Vulnerable populations of the city are being pushed further & further into the corners of the city, where we get less attention & services.”

“This is a huge issue (gentrification) causing instability in the city, and in particular here in the northwest part.”

“Our district needs action now!”


Aida Morales, 5th district candidate.  A fifty-year resident, originally from Guatemala, with experience serving the city on various commissions.  However, her main challenge may not be the other candidates but that it sounds like English may not be her first language, not that it’s stopped her before:

“All the time I’ve living here in Pasadena I’ve been active.”

“Pasadena is getting gentrified.  And so many people who work here are unable to live here.”

“I don’t want trees chopped down!  I want green spaces and parks.”

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Phil Hosp, 7th district candidate.  If anyone was going to create fireworks this night I‘d expect it from him.  Instead, he was mild mannered: “I grew up in the Pasadena area.  I received a Bronze Star in two tours of military duty in Iraq.  And I want to insure the Pasadena residents have a bigger say in City Hall.”


It was good to see that 3 of the 7 candidates are women – 2 are Latina! – when currently on the council it’s Councilwoman Margaret McAustin (who was in attendance) as the lone female.


Sheena Tahilramani, 7th district candidate.  She came off as the most open and personable. In her closing statement above, she appears to be pleading for something. Maybe for more female representation on the city council!

“I believe in actions that promote transparency & foster the trust in the process, along with dialogue that engages you the public in decision-making, are the only way to get long-term solutions.”

“I’m a candidate because I want you to be involved in the process. I would be happy to sit down with residents to learn from your experiences.”


Andy Wilson (2nd from right) 7th district incumbent councilman makes his point.

When Wilson first moved to Pasadena, “what appealed to me most were the people, who are Pasadena.  The diversity: ethnicities, ideologies, and economically.  And the passion I saw for ideas & causes such as preservation, homelessness and education.”

“My priorities are protecting our neighborhoods & urban forest, moderating growth, strengthening the economy with more jobs, reducing traffic, and promoting walking, bicycling & mass transit.”

“Integrating our population – economically – should be an important part of our community values.”

“Elections should focus on policy positions, experience and knowledge and not fake news/character assassination. . . . those who have served and understand our Community will know that is the Pasadena Way.  Looking forward to future forums.”

“I challenge us to think out of the box!”



7th district candidate Bryan Witt.  I don’t know if the candidates were disclosed the questions ahead of time but it seemed every time I looked up to hear Witt’s answer he was reading from prepared notes.   “We don’t want a Glendalization of Pasadena!  If Rick Caruso (developer) wants to build another Disneyland he can go down to Anaheim! We don’t need that kind of development here in Pasadena.”

“We’ve already lost a lot of our beautiful old homes.  So we need to do everything to preserve our architectural heritage.”

“Several recent events show a total lack of regard by the current city council for basic democratic debate!”

“I’ve made a good living working with Amtrak, but I can’t afford a house in Pasadena!”

“One way our police can promote good community relations is by using discretion to give more people a break by overlooking some of the minor violations that they come across!”



“90% of the politicians give the remaining 10% a bad reputation.” <  Henry Kissinger



Winner?? Good question.  IMHO, on that night none of that candidates played good enough to win.  What about you: who did you think won or was most impressed, and depressed, with?

Forum Video:  PCC Forum on You Tube

The first political debate/forum/discussion/roundtable of this new year is in the books.  Please try to attend one before the city election primary on March 7th.  I expect more from the candidates in their next forum.  However, the only candidates forum I’m aware of, next, in this whole month is at All-Saints church on the last evening of the month!  That forum will concentrate on “affordable” housing, again, as if this first forum at PCC didn’t emphasize it! For more info on that forum contact Ada Ramirez at [email protected].


But before that night, I highly recommend you first check out, especially if you’ve never been, the Pasadena annual State of The City given by Mayor Terry Tornek tomorrow (Wed) evening. Get out there and meet some of the movers & shakers in the Pasadena political community. They’d like to meet you – especially if they’re currently running for office:



Question Authority, and, Stay Thirsty My Friends!

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