East Pasadena Election Generates Heat, Hostility

The run-off election for Pasadena City Council and School Board is nearing the finish line.

Friday was the last day for voters to safely mail in their vote-by-mail ballots, as Pasadena only considers those ballots that have arrived by election day. Ballots received after election day will not be counted, even if they were postmarked earlier.

Election Day is Tuesday, April 19.

Those voters who have already received a ballot in the mail, but are unable to get mail it in time should drop off the ballot at the City Clerk’s office downtown during business hours. Or, they may drop off their ballot at any polling place on Election Day.

The hot race in this election, of course, is District Four, East Pasadena, between Jill Fosselman and Gene Masuda. A recent endorsement of candidate Jill Fosselman by blogger has recently generated a lot of comments, some of them sharply partisan, with accusations on both sides of “Tea Party” influence. Similar accusations were hurled in the District 6 race between Madison and Naber.

Read the endorsement and the comments at:


The City Council, of course, is not partisan, and the “Democrat” and “Republican” designations really have no bearing on city politics. But trotting out those positive/negative labels does get folks to the polls.

What does matter to city politics, on the other hand, is a pols’ attitude towards development and growth. Does the candidate view new business, new office buildings, new shopping centers, new apartments, condos, and homes as a good thing, or a bad thing? Is Pasadena perfect as-is, thank-you-very-much, take your-business-elsewhere, or is there room for improvement?

In reality, of course, development isn’t nearly so clear-cut. Almost everyone agrees that growth is good, or at least some growth, but then we all squint our eyes, furrow our brow, and qualify that statement with, “Well, the right kind of growth.”

Wisdom to know what kind of growth is good–having the foresight and imagination to foresee the effects of a proposed project, then, is the quality that voters must ascertain in a candidate.

Residents of Downtown Pasadena, of course, prefer candidates who posses that wisdom, who posses planning experience, and who most importantly view Downtown Pasadena as a proper context for urban development. We like the energy and vitality that comes from density and walkability, from having businesses and residences closely interspersed.

East Pasadena has its own character, and its residents may prefer a different lifestyle, as Coppess expressed in his blog. That’s fine, in East Pasadena. Each to his own. On the other hand, we must also strive to make sure that no district of Pasadena (and, ultimately, of Greater Los Angeles as a whole) exists in isolation, walled off and separated. Residents of East Pasadena (and elsewhere) should be (are are!) welcome in Downtown, and should be able to interact with our urban context. In practical terms, that may mean building parking garages on the periphery of Downtown Pasadena, so that suburban residents, who are more car-dependent, can easily transition to walking or taking public transit. It may also mean eventually extending the planned streetcar from Downtown, so that it reaches into our suburban areas, drawing shoppers and visitors towards our center, as the Red Cars did a century ago.

In the meantime, residents of Pasadena await the election results, and hope for a City Council composed of men and women with the vision, foresight, and imagination to encourage the right kind of development, and to lead Pasadena forward.