Reporter's Notebook: More From Last Week's West Side Candidates' Forum

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Now, 1/27/2020

Chapman covered and helped moderate last Thursday’s forum held by several neighborhood groups in West Pasadena. Topics not included in his original story, include transportation and the Pasadena Way. A summary of the candidates’ closing statement is also included.

Participants in the mayoral race were Mayor Terry Tornek, District 5 Councilmember Victor Gordo, former Senior Commissioner Jason Hardin, and businessman Major Williams. In District 6, Councilmember Steve Madison faced off against challengers attorney Tamerlin Godley and nonprofit executive Ryan Bell. [Watch the forum here.]

On transportation

Williams called for a reimagining of how people move around the city. “We should implement an [automatic] walkway system like at the airport,” he said. “I’m working with tech guys right now come up with versions of that.”

Tornek said there’s a misconception that the city’s General Plan is anti-automobile.

“That’s not what it says,” he said. “It says we want to offer options to people. We’ve been enhancing our transit system and developing a more sensible system of bike paths around city, but we need to be realistic about how we achieve this.”

Godley also called for a realistic approach. “No one wants the congested nightmare that is the west side, but we need to stop our wishful thinking about mass transit,” she said. “We need to offer real incentives to get people out of their car.”

Hardin said he’s a strong advocate and user of mass transportation.

Bell said people won’t suddenly stop driving, but pointed out that the best cities are ones in which people can get around

without the use of a car. He called for mass transit to be free, go to more places and operate more frequently.

Gordo called for sustainability and better metrics of the impacts of transportation projects, and Madison pointed to improving intersections. “We will be forced by climate change to be smarter about our transportation solutions,” he said.

On ‘the Pasadena Way’

Pasadena prides itself on citizen involvement—known as the “Pasadena Way”—yet many residents feel that City Council has ignored their desires or recommendations. One example in which West Pasadenans felt ignored was the addition of a public bathroom at Desiderio Park.

Tornek defended the city’s process for making decisions and argued that just because the Council disagrees with a resident’s or a citizen group’s point of view, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening.

Godley said people are looking for more transparency and honesty in their city government.

Williams agreed, saying city leadership is not effectively communicating to its citizens.

Hardin said he would work to “change the Pasadena Way,” which he and Bell argued doesn’t represent everyone in the city. Hardin also called for citizens to get more involved in city government.

Bell called for setting up listening sessions in areas such as Northwest Pasadena to make sure their voices are heard.

Gordo pointed out that elected officials have a responsibility to listen to their constituents.

Madison encouraged people to get involved in a city commission.

As for the bathroom at Desiderio, he added, “We haven’t heard the last of that issue.”

Closing statements

Bell said that the City Council is made up of landlords. As a tenant, he said he’d work to find housing solutions and “make Pasadena work for everyone.”

Godley pointed out that there was only one woman on the dais, and that the city would benefit from having a woman’s voice on the City Council.

Madison touted his record on the Council and pledged to maintain west Pasadena’s “great neighborhoods.”

Gordo said that if elected mayor, “It will never be ‘my way or the highway.’” He pointed out that he was one of the first to oppose bringing an NFL team to the Rose Bowl and that he consistently voted against the 710 tunnel.

Hardin said he’s not running to represent the city, but rather to represent the city’s people. He said his innate passion and curiosity in the issues facing the city will serve him well in office.

Tornek said he’s made progress on all of the issues he ran on four years ago. He said he worked behind the scenes to convince Metro and elected officials to abandon the 710 tunnel, that he understands “how the game is played” and how to get things done.

Williams said he is in the race to win it. He pointed out that he was the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring.