Correction: Story updated to accurately reflect Wilson’s former status at Innovate Pasadena.
Pasadena voters have rarely been forced to choose between two candidates for City Council who were so heavy in some important departments and so light in others.
Such is the case in the race between sitting Councilman Andy Wilson and challenger Phil Hosp for the council’s District 7 seat.
In Wilson we have an incumbent who was selected by other council members to fill the seat left vacant by its former occupant Terry Tornek when Tornek ascended to the mayor’s chair two years ago.
In that time, Wilson has participated in deciding some of the most important issues facing the city, among them raising the minimum wage, declaring Pasadena a safe place for immigrants and scrutinizing incidents involving the Pasadena Police Department.
However, during much of that time Wilson, former member of the executive committee of a nonprofit technology innovation company who calls himself a “serial entrepreneur,” has been forced to campaign for re-election while making policy and a living at the same time.
Given the amount of volunteer time Wilson had already spent on the Planning, Design Review and Urban Forestry commissions, as well as on the Pasadena Center Operating Co. board of directors, it seemed natural for the 51-year-old father of two to assume a seat at the council dais. And it at least appeared that the passion was still there for him to continue serving.
But considering a few ethical missteps made by Wilson over the past year, we have to wonder if that is still as true today as it may have been in 2015.
As Deputy Editor André Coleman reported, Wilson failed to report political contributions on time, including one report in which he should have disclosed $16,500 in campaign contributions. For that he was fined $365 by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
Prior to that, Wilson used his city email account when applying for executive director positions with both the Tournament of Roses Association and the Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena Airport Authority. Both jobs would have required Wilson to step down from the council due to conflicts of interest.
After taking a seat on the council, Wilson stepped down from the executive committee of Innovate Pasadena, a nonprofit that supports economic growth through technology that received $95,000 from the city in 2013. However, he remained on the company’s board of directors when he unwittingly voted to approve a $27,500 expenditure made to Innovate Pasadena by the city.
Wilson said the expenditure was not presented in a line item on the 2016-17 fiscal year city budget and he did not know that he was voting for its approval. On the job searches, Wilson said that was done prior to his decision to run and that no effort was made to conceal his actions, as Hosp has alleged.
“This was before I decided I was going to run,” Wilson told Coleman. “I needed to know what I was giving up, so I went out to educate myself. It was a timing issue. I was still exploring the possibilities. It was the homework I did before I pulled papers to run for council.”
On the other hand, the 37-year-old Hosp, also a father of two, is full of fire but low on experience. But, said the two-tour Iraq veteran and lawyer, “I am willing to listen and represent residents and advocate for positions that are in their interests.”
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly in a city feeling the many pains associated with unparalleled residential development, “I have no ties to developers and I don’t chair a nonprofit that receives city funding. I will also make sure the community is engaged. I’m willing to listen and I am willing to talk to anybody,” Hosp has declared.
In addition, Hosp has pledged to make development projects open to the public and has rejected campaign contributions and endorsements from developers and architects with projects before the city.
Wilson is endorsed by Tornek, former Mayor Bill Bogaard, Council members Victor Gordo, Steve Madison and John Kennedy, as well as state Assemblyman and former Councilman Chris Holden.
Hosp has the support of United Teachers of Pasadena (UTP), and former mayors Bill Thomson, who once represented District 7, and Bill Paparian. Also backing Hosp are former LAPD Deputy Chief and onetime District 7 council candidate Peggy York and former city planner Marsha Rood.
In the primary, Wilson won a squeaker. Of the total 3,528 ballots cast, the incumbent took in 1,501 votes — just 41 more than Hosp.
In the end, Hosp makes up for what Wilson seems to be lacking in the passion department, just as we think Wilson outweighs Hosp in the area of being able to work with others in order to get things done.
The problem is it is difficult for us to simply ignore Wilson’s ethical lapses while in office.
With that said, we would like to see Hosp be given an opportunity to express what clearly appears to be a deep desire to serve the public.
On Tuesday, vote for Phil Hosp.