Robinson, Madison and Chahinian for council, Stevenson and Selinske for school board
Over the past five weeks we brought you brief but meaty profiles of the many candidates running for seats on the Pasadena City Council and the Pasadena Board of Education, ending our coverage last week with news of Superintendent Edwin Diaz resigning and heading north to his home in Gilroy.
That same edition included not only stories on the last set of candidates in the school board race, but also a profile of one of the city’s would-be political power brokers, School Board member Ramon Miramontes, who is not running for re-election but has cultivated candidates to run against colleagues he’d like to see replaced.
Board of Education member Renatta Cooper faces no serious threat with only write-in candidate Cushon Bell of Altadena to worry about in her re-election bid for Seat 2, and both city District 2 Councilwoman Margaret McAustin and Mayor Bill Bogaard had no opposition to their plans for four more years. However, there was some drama on the city side, as well, with news of political casualties in the race for the City Council’s District 6 seat between incumbent Steve Madison and activist and businesswoman Carolyn Naber.
After her presence at a Madison meeting was questioned, Maria Tornek — a director with the local cable access channel and wife of District 7 Councilman Terry Tornek, a supporter of Naber — was barred from covering council meetings for the channel, something Maria Tornek had done for eight years before her husband was elected. Shortly after the Weekly learned of the situation, Maria Tornek’s former boss, Pasadena Community Access Corp. Executive Director Don Repella, abruptly resigned, ostensibly for another gig after being with the station nearly a decade.
Now, with City Reporter André Coleman’s excellent coverage of the candidates and Deputy Editor Jake Armstrong’s reporting on how much money was raised in spent in each race, we feel we’ve caught everything thrown at us this election season and are now qualified to recommend how you should vote Tuesday.
District 1 — Incumbent Jacque Robinson has made the fight against youth violence a hallmark of her four years in office. Robinson continues to advocate for more resources for after-school and other preventative programs for at-risk youth, even as violence levels decline. Newcomer James Smith only recently moved into the district, but he has some good ideas about commercial development and affordable housing. In this case, we believe Robinson will hit on those issues in her second term, now that public safety can be set aside for the time being.
District 4 — Each of the five candidates in this race brought with them a wealth of good ideas, making this an exceptionally tough choice. Chances are no one will get the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win outright, forcing a runoff election in April. But we believe Chris Chahinian is the best candidate. While everyone mentions Pasadena schools as a major concern for the city, he seems to see the bigger picture — the need to partner with the district, not just make quick fixes. We also like his idea of suspending business license fees to attract more businesses that, ideally, would hire locally.
District 6— Incumbent Steve Madison is the best candidate for a job that Carolyn Naber never really seemed prepared to do. It didn’t help Naber that she and her campaign manager Martin Truitt were not honest about Madison’s council meeting attendance record, or about their more than tenuous connections to the local tea party. It also didn’t help Naber’s cause to learn that she endorsed Madison in 2007 and gave him money, despite claiming she had opposed him since 2005. To make matters worse, Naber attended few candidate forums. In sharp contrast, Madison meets with the city manager once a week to talk about issues in his district and has been active on fronts that impact the entire community, including those stemming from youth violence.
Board of Education:
Seat 2 — It is time for candidate Gene Stevenson to take a seat with the Board of Education. His opponent, Kim Kenne, is a fine person and brilliant when it comes to analyzing data. But Stevenson’s been around a long time, living in Altadena since 1969 and putting four children through district schools since then. A former director of the Jackie Robinson Center and now the executive director of the Altadena Arts Council, Stevenson’s intimate knowledge of Pasadena and Altadena will serve him — and us — well after he is elected.
Seat 6 — Incumbent Tom Selinske has served as both president and vice president of the Board of Education, keeping a level head — even when others around him were losing theirs — and managing to stay above whatever political frays have flared up from time to time. During his four years on the board, Selinske was in new Superintendent Edwin Diaz’s corner in turning around standardized test score results. And after four years of cutting budgets, Selinske has the experience needed to resist calls for even further cuts in the years ahead.