Running on empty
Benson bows out of District 3 council race but name will remain on ballot
By André Coleman 02/28/2013
Three weeks after an article in the Pasadena Weekly revealed a past full of aliases, different birthdates and phantom educational achievements, the Rev. Nicholas Benson announced this week that he was bowing out of the race for the Pasadena City Council District 3 seat, urging his supporters to vote for John J. Kennedy.
It was at a press conference held Friday on the steps of Pasadena City Hall that Benson made his first public statement since the Weekly learned that not only has he used several different names and birth dates, but that Benson claims as his residence a transitional living facility where two convicted sex offenders live. Benson has also claimed he received doctorates from USC and Fuller Theological Seminary, but later admitted he did not attend either school.
“I decided to run for Pasadena City Council District 3 to improve the quality of life, reduce crime, provide affordable housing and create jobs,” Benson said. “As a man of faith, it is important to me that as a community we focus on the issues and not engage in character assassination. Although I may have made some unintentional mistakes along the way, I am proud my candidacy promoted issues important to the residents in District 3. After careful consideration and consultation with my supporters and with community leaders, I have concluded that John Kennedy is the best candidate to move Pasadena and District 3 forward.”
Benson did not answer questions after making the statement. Kennedy did not return phone calls seeking comment on the endorsement.
Despite dropping out of the race, Benson’s name will remain on Tuesday’s ballot, according to City Clerk Mark Jomsky. To have a name removed from a ballot, the City Charter, Jomsky explained, requires a candidate to withdraw from a race at least 88 days before the day of the election.
District residents have told the Weekly they are unhappy with the mudslinging between candidates Ishmael Trone, a local businessman and Kennedy, an executive with the LA Urban League.
Kennedy and Trone also came to the campaign with negative baggage about their pasts. In 1993, Kennedy was found not guilty of attempted murder after accidentally shooting Jonathan Thomas. Trone, a bail bondsman, was arrested in 1997 after he tried to take a loaded gun into an airport. In addition, Trone is currently being investigated by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office based on anonymous complaints that he really lives in a home in Altadena and not in the district, as required by law.
Benson is the second candidate to quit a local race after the deadline. In January, Israel Estrada announced he was backing out of the City Council’s District 5 race.