Be heard Tuesday
Vote for Trone, Kenne, Hampton, Murga and Phelps
By Kevin Uhrich 02/28/2013
Much has been written over the past few weeks about Tuesday’s election, in which three City Council seats will be decided, as well as four Board of Education positions in newly created voting districts in the Pasadena Unified School District.
Some of what we’ve seen has been encouraging, with the PUSD’s four of seven new districts doing what they were meant to do when they were drawn by a special task force last year: Attract new people to the political process. In addition to all the fresh faces, three incumbents will be trying to retain their seats as well.
However, much of what’s been reported about the election has not been good news. In the three contests for the council’s District 3, District 5 and District 7 seats, for example, stories have ranged from boring to disappointing to downright shocking, especially in District 3, where longtime Councilman Chris Holden was forced to give up his seat after being elected to the state Assembly in November.
Councilman Terry Tornek is running unopposed for a second four-year term in District 7, and Israel Estrada dropped his challenge of longtime District 5 incumbent Councilman Victor Gordo, so the results of those two contests are virtually foregone certainties.
But then there’s District 3. All three candidates in that race — John J. Kennedy, Ishmael Trone and the Rev. Nicholas Benson — have provided new answers to the question of how low candidates can go to get themselves elected, all while raising new questions about why a person with a checkered past would run for public office.
Such is the case with Benson, who uses a doctor’s title before his name. Deputy Editor André Coleman soon learned that the good reverend did not possess a doctorate. André also found that Benson has a number of aliases, and a few birth dates. But, along with that, André found out that the place where Benson, who owns a home in Altadena, claims he lives in the district is actually home to two convicted sex offenders.
Benson wasn’t the only one in the race to have their residency challenged. Trone, who claims to reside on the second floor of the offices of his bail bonds business on East Orange Grove Boulevard, has been accused by his critics of actually living in a home in Altadena that he owns with his estranged wife, a claim that he emphatically denies. The LA County DA is currently investigating the matter.
Of course, Benson and Trone are certainly not alone in creating controversy. Kennedy, the former head of the NAACP Pasadena Branch back in the late 1980s, was acquitted of attempted murder after accidentally shooting a 20-year-old man he had once mentored while playing around with a gun that neither man realized was loaded.
Not to be outdone, Trone was actually convicted of misdemeanor gun charges after being caught at Bob Hope Airport in 1997 with a loaded handgun that he forgot was in his bag.
The pièce de résistance came last week, when someone tried to smear Kennedy by sending out around the district copies of a newspaper story about the man he shot 20 years ago.
For news people, these three candidates have produced some pretty exciting copy. For voters, however, none of them present much hope for anything getting done if elected.
In the final analysis, Trone appears to make the most sense, especially on the need to hire locals for major projects in order to spread the wealth that’s escaped this district for too long.
Kennedy, too, has some good ideas, but more than anything, what he really represents, mostly by virtue of great bureaucratic polish, is a smooth transition of power in Holden’s former district. In other words, the status quo — perhaps the very last thing people need or want. As for his plans of buying “stealth” helicopters to increase police flyovers while reducing noise, and putting more cops on local campuses, these are ideas that we could not oppose more strenuously.
For these reasons, and the fact that he’s been deeply engaged in community affairs over the past several years, we endorse Trone to take over for Holden. Let’s now hope he makes it through the DA’s investigation without getting arrested.
Following are our picks for the Pasadena Board of Education:
District 1 — Kim Kenne
Kenne wants to further fulfill promises made last election regarding transparency and accountability. She’s also working to increase parental involvement. We like that and think she deserves another term.
District 3 — Tyron Hampton
People say anyone like Tyron Hampton, who actually attended local schools, graduated from a Pasadena public high school, and then went onto a successful life, should have a shot at serving on the school board. We agree.
District 5 — Stella Murga
Over the years, we have seen Stella Murga devote her life to the betterment of local children through the Pasadena Youth Center and a number of other civic organizations. We believe she will continue this tradition of dedication as a board member.
District 7 — Scott Phelps
Scott Phelps taught in the district, served two terms on the school board and sends his children to PUSD schools, unlike his opponent, who has enrolled his kids in private school. ‘Nuff said. n
Deputy Editor André Coleman contributed to this editorial.