Candidates Seek Your Vote

In the Nov. 3 election, South Pasadena voters will choose from among six candidates running for three open seats on the City Council and two seats on the school board.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Jack Donovan

As a 39-year resident of South Pasadena, I know our community well. I am running for City Council in District 2 to increase transparency and integrity, and to preserve our cherished small-town atmosphere.
During the last few years, I have become concerned about the direction of our city. South Pasadena faces many problems that the current leadership has failed to address. For example, there has been:
• Historically high turnover in key senior positions
• Low morale among rank and file staff
• No balanced budget
• Commission input and guidance is totally ignored
• Residents are treated with indifference at City Hall
• The city administration has not adequately planned for smart development
I have served on the Parks & Recreation Commission bringing major improvements to recreational facilities, including restrooms and a new playground at Garfield Park. I have also served 20 years as a coach, referee and AYSO commissioner and as a volunteer on South Pasadena High School’s Bingo Committee.
If elected, I pledge to:
• Bring creative solutions to problems and work to improve staff stability and morale
• Address unsafe traffic conditions, particularly around homes, schools and parks
• Pursue thoughtful development with community input
• Maintain our own police and fire departments, while fostering community policing
• Continue to improve recreational spaces and facilities
As a City Council member, I will do my best to preserve our city’s character. I will work to ensure fiscal responsibility and encourage a collaborative approach in place of today’s top-down administration. As a businessperson, I have experience managing personnel, sticking to a budget, analyzing problems and making tough decisions when needed.
I am endorsed by Bob Joe, mayor; Michael Cacciotti, council member/former mayor; Odom Stamps, former mayor; Charles Trevino, Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District; Larry and Dana Abelson; Ernie Arnold; Sherry Plotkin; William Buckley; Alberto Ocon; Alex and Grace Kung; Kristine Kwong; Jeremy Ding; Ed Donnelly; Yuki Cutcheon; and Ed Risto, among many other residents.
Please vote for me this November to preserve South Pasadena’s character and keep our city strong. To learn more about me and my platform, please visit Donovan2020.com.

Alan Ehrlich

I’m Alan Ehrlich and I’m running for City Council in District 3. I have lived in South Pasadena for 20 years and raised two children, one now in college, the other a senior at SPHS. For years I coached AYSO and softball, was a parent safety valet at Marengo, volunteered as the pep team treasurer and with Tiger Bingo.
I’ve been a homeowner, and for the last eight years, a renter. I understand firsthand the affordability problems experienced by 51% of the city’s residents. Like most renters, I have made sacrifices so my children could finish their education in our schools and stay close to friends they have known since kindergarten.
As the vice chair of the Public Safety Commission, I know that longtime residents, whether homeowners or renters, make for safer and more stable communities, shop in our local stores and enrich our city. My deep interest in public safety began in 2011, after the great windstorm knocked down trees and power lines and caught the city unprepared. I pushed to establish the CERT program, which has graduated over 500 residents. I am currently pursuing a second master’s in emergency services administration.
Our city was in crisis even before the pandemic turned life as we know it upside down. Council members pushing personal agendas rather than serving the needs of our residents. A council unwilling to address city management problems that led to high employee turnover, bad hiring decisions, and multiple million-dollar lawsuits against the city.
The city has had five finance directors in the last 34 months. The lack of leadership has left the department in shambles and the city without an accurate picture of its finances and reserves.
I have a master’s in business administration and bring to the table more than 25 years of finance and operations experience. This is critical to getting South Pasadena back on course.
I have experience turning around $200 million businesses. The city’s budget is $54 million. The secret is putting the right people in place who work cooperatively toward a common purpose. I am South PASsionate. I want your vote this November.

Michelle Hammond

Ten years ago I chose to raise my children in South Pasadena for likely the same reasons as you — top-notch schools, social and economic diversity, and a small-town feel. My family is tied to our community and, as former owner of the Munch Co., through business. We value the importance of local advocacy, and my son’s commitment to activism on climate issues encouraged an all-hands-on-deck involvement within our household and inspired me to take the leap and run for City Council.
The need for balanced and active oversight from our South Pasadena City Council has never been greater. As a single mother, environmental champion, business owner, renter and daughter of an immigrant, I offer the City Council inclusive representation of our residents so we can face our challenges together as a whole. My experiences owning Munch will give the City Council a better understanding of the struggles facing our small businesses, which will be greatly needed for the next coming years as we recover after COVID.
I am an advocate of many environmental issues. I am a Mobility and Transportation Infrastructure commissioner and had a leadership role in forming the community garden. I am also an active contributor to the Chamber of Commerce, South Pasadena Beautiful, ActiveSGV, Transition, and a supporter of SPEF.
You don’t need me to tell you times are tough. We’ve stayed home to stymie the spread of coronavirus, and now we’ve shut our windows to protect our lungs from wildfire smoke. Nationally our democracy is in peril, while locally we are bracing for difficult choices ahead as we prepare for a long road of recovery.
We all need to rise up to the challenge of making this world — and our small town a part of it — more inclusive, equitable, resilient and just. I am answering the call to step up and serve this mission by representing you and our neighbors on the City Council. A vote for me ensures a council member that will always be part of the solution, bring people together, and put the community’s needs first.

Bob Joe

My experience, knowledge and ability to work constructively with others make me the best candidate to serve the city as the District 1 councilmember.
Especially now, when we are in the midst of major leadership transitions, my in-depth understanding of city operations and resources available to us will be essential for the city to move forward.
Voters elected me in 2011 and again in 2015. I have served as mayor twice.
Upgrading the city’s infrastructure has been a high priority for me. We have rebuilt and restored the city’s reservoirs, water and sewer systems, and other facilities.
Youth are also important to me. Since 2011, I have served as the representative on a joint city-school district committee. I led a program of a workforce agency to employ youth. I am involved with two organizations focused on developmental disabilities.
I support our seniors. I regularly seek improvements at the Senior Center. Even now in the pandemic, the center still offers meal delivery and transportation.
I am also dedicated to the needs of the unhoused. I helped the city obtain a grant to enhance support services for this population. I serve on the board of an organization addressing housing for the homeless.
Business development is also important to me. As a councilmember, I encourage the growth of new and existing businesses.
I have the skills needed to meet upcoming challenges. When difficult issues arise, I bring together those with common interests. I focus on collaboration for the benefit of the city.
Even in a time of economic slowdown, I am confident that I can help the city maintain its financial stability. I am committed to resolving our management and fiscal problems.
As the District 1 representative, I will continue to address community concerns. I have supported traffic safety improvements around Monterey Hills Elementary School, the installation of traffic signals on Monterey Road and street repairs.
I am endorsed by Congresswoman Judy Chu, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, state Assemblymember Chris Holden and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
For more information, call me at (213) 209-9513. Residents can support my campaign by visiting Re-electBobJoe.com.

Jon Primuth

I’d like to share why I feel compelled to run for City Council. We are experiencing political storms in our city. We have an ongoing budget and financial mess that has created a crisis of public confidence in our city’s finances. We’ve seen major leadership departures, starting with the resignation of a city council member under suspicion of misconduct. Our city manager and finance department directors have left. We are facing a legal mandate to accommodate more than 2,000 new housing units that will overwhelm our local traffic, infrastructure and schools.
These times call for visionary leadership and insight and skills to meet the challenges. As an elected public school board member in South Pasadena, I’ve had decision-making responsibility for a $40+ million public agency budget. I dig deep into public agency budgets and audits to find important insights. On policy matters, I initiate change and build consensus. On legal matters, I use my 30 years as an attorney to break down complex issues into clear solutions.
As a neighbor, I’ve protected neighborhoods against traffic impacts from overdevelopment.
This combination of skills in public finance, consensus-building and law are essential to effectiveness on the City Council.
In addition, I have been a South Pasadena resident for 22 years, with a long record of community service and leadership in AYSO, SPEF, Chamber of Commerce, SPARC and the Senior Citizens Foundation.
Our city government needs a culture change to restore public confidence. I will promote a culture in our city in which transparency, respect and collaboration are the key values by which the city makes decisions and takes action.
How can one council member change the city’s culture? By working hard and pushing for it. Fortunately, I have the exclusive endorsement of three sitting council members, whom I’ve worked with across the table on city and school issues for several years. I am also privileged to have the support of a wide range of residents across the city and district. I hope to have your support.
Together, we will bring the change needed to restore public confidence and make South Pasadena Better Together.

Evelyn Zneimer

I am running for City Council because South Pasadena desperately needs a voice for change. I want to restore trust in City Hall. Transparency is sorely lacking at the local government and even though the current City Council is beginning to clean up the mess it created three years ago coupled with lack of leadership, it is going to take time.
With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial outlook in 2021 for our city is bleak. With the continued surge in the city’s expenditures such as CalPERS retirement packages and other post-employment benefits coming due, and huge litigation expenses, we are faced with a budget deficit in 2021. It is urgent that we return our city to fiscal responsibility.
The city is also faced with many issues. As your councilmember, I will support building inclusionary affordable housing and work with the Youth Reformers to address systemic racism and police reforms. I will prioritize smart, safe and bicycle/pedestrian-friendly transportation planning and engage the community in healthy activities. I will fight climate change locally by preserving open spaces, maintaining our urban forest and reducing South Pasadena’s carbon footprint.
As a resident in South Pasadena for 35 years, I have volunteered as a commissioner for 14 years (seven years with the Natural Resources Commission and seven years with the Parks & Recreation Commission) and served on various ad hoc committees, including the Utility Users Tax and a number of local civic organizations.
Based on my experience as the current elected city clerk for seven years, as a volunteer, an attorney and a judge pro tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court, I am qualified to tackle these complicated issues that our city faces at the moment.
I am a woman of color, a single mother who raised her two children, Daphne and Samuel, in this extraordinary city of ours.
We can rebuild. We are resilient. I love South Pasadena and will work tirelessly with community members in District 1 and the other neighborhoods in our city to bring about change and restore trust in City Hall.


SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

Suzie Abajian

As a South Pasadena school board member, I have consistently supported the expansion of our academic and extracurricular programs in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts and dual language immersion.
During my time on the school board I took the lead in pushing for a multicultural literature course at the high school to engage our students with culturally and linguistically responsive, LGBTQ-positive and inclusive curricula and instruction, which is so important given the current political context.
As a lifelong educator in K-12, college and graduate levels I bring an important perspective to the board and understand how things work at the ground level. I am a fierce advocate for all our students and particularly students who need additional support. I have tirelessly advocated for the closing of the opportunity gap for our underserved students.
Over the past five years, the board of education put a parcel tax and a $98 million bond measure on the ballot, which voters approved, enabling us to expand programming and fund much needed upgrades and building projects in every school in our district.
We are currently faced with unprecedented challenges concerning school funding, navigating the impact of COVID-19 on our students and staff and making sure that we are continuing to meet the needs of our underserved students, special education students and English language learners. More than ever, we need to continue providing social-emotional support for our students. We also need to continue offering arts programs that are so important in generating joy and connection and engaging students in learning.
In these uncertain times our school district needs sure and proven leadership that will put the safety and well-being of students and staff first and ensure that our district continues to offer meaningful educational experiences for all our students. For these reasons, I humbly ask for your vote.
I am the only candidate endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. I have also been endorsed by the National Women’s Political Caucus of San Gabriel Valley as well as many South Pasadena community leaders.

Erik Gammell

As a parent of two elementary school children, I believe I can help lead our district to meet the historic challenges of this moment. Our schools have long been a source of pride for our community, and I will work tirelessly to ensure their continued success in serving our needs.
I believe I am uniquely qualified to help our students and district meet the challenges and funding shortfalls cause by this pandemic. My years of strategic leadership across nonprofit organizations have prepared me to consider the difficult choices ahead and embrace the opportunities we might find in the midst of adversity.
I have spent much of my career focused on serving the needs of children and families and feel those experiences make me well qualified to help improve and protect our schools. I founded an educational software company focused on visual learning for complex subjects. I was a director of the nonprofit REACH a Child, committed to providing books and support to children in crisis. I served as a board member of a nonprofit dedicated to providing support to at-risk families and children. I understand what it takes to advocate for and serve families and others across a community.
In addition, my deep involvement in our community has given me the insight necessary to represent our families and stakeholders. I currently serve on the Arroyo Vista PTA Executive Board, AYSO Region 214 Board of Directors, and with D.U.D.E.S. My time volunteering in the classroom and community has allowed me to see how dedicated our district’s teachers, staff, administrators and parents are to ensuring our children receive the best education possible, and I believe that we need people who are equally dedicated on our school board.
Throughout my professional career, I have prioritized listening to stakeholders and gathering information from many sources before determining the best solution to a problem. This is the same approach I will bring as a member of our school board. I believe I have the vision and record necessary to help our schools find innovative and practical solutions in this time of crisis. I would be honored to be chosen to serve.

Patricia Martinez-Miller

The school board members elected in 2020 must ensure that SPUSD continues to flourish in a time of unprecedented complexity and financial uncertainty. Recognizing this is what motivates me to run for school board. I believe that the citizens of South Pasadena can rely on my professional success as a school leader and coach and on my prior experience as an effective president and three-term school board member.
As residents of South Pasadena since 1979, my husband and I raised a son and daughter who benefited from South Pasadena’s exceptional schools. I am especially pleased and proud that my three grandchildren are now thriving SPUSD students, too.
My entire adult life has been spent in education, starting with earning a Ph.D. in Spanish language and literature at USC, and then putting my language skills to use in Los Angeles schools as a teacher and principal for 25 years. Because I succeeded at improving student learning, fostering teacher development and building community collaboration, I was sought out to be director of faculty for the UCLA Graduate School of Education’s School Management Program. For the next 20 years at UCLA, I shared what I had learned about supporting student learning, teacher effectiveness and school and district achievement with many school districts locally and nationwide.
Concurrent with my time at UCLA and while my children were students in the district, I served on the South Pasadena school board. I am especially proud that during these years SPUSD increased options for students, raised achievement results for all students in an already high-achieving district while narrowing the achievement gap and implemented a shared decision-making model that ensured clear communication among all stakeholders — parents, students, teachers and administrators.
If elected, I will:
• Protect the health, safety and potential of our students, staff and community
• Analyze data expertly and dig deeper into its meaning to ensure continued SPUSD success
• Ask tough questions of our SPUSD leaders; and again,
• Be the board member known for collaboration, accountability and innovative problem solving who not only maintains but advances the quality of education that is the cornerstone of our community.

Alan Reynolds

Giving back to our community, being involved and being a “listen first” leader is why I ran for City Council (2011 and 2013) and served on commissions. I continued this in various other runs for office. This time is particularly close to home. Yes, obviously because my kids go to our schools and I want to keep giving back, but additionally my children are old enough now to recognize what it means to run for office and be involved in the community. This is particularly important because of my daughter’s interest in my run for the California Assembly (2018) and school board now. If I can show her that being engaged in our community/government is important, to persevere regardless of success, and inspire her to reach further than me in her future, it will be worth it, regardless of the result.
So, like any parent, I’m running for the kids, both mine and everyone else’s. I’m running to listen to the stories of other parents and families (and teachers/students) and give them a voice too, because that is what serving our community is. Listening and giving people a voice.
I’m not an educator, so all I can do is listen. To parents. To teachers/staff. And to students. What I do (as a person) is take various voices/inputs and find solutions. As an engineer I have a problem-solving mentality. As a manager I work with people, find consensus using soft skills, emotional intelligence and interactive leadership. I’ve served our community on the Parks & Recreation Commission and Freeway & Transportation Commission and grew up in South Pas: MHS, SPMS and SPHS (’02); I’ve been a parent at multiple elementary schools. We must continue striving to improve, supporting all children in our community; to be a resource for next generational development.
I’m raising/spending no money — no trash in your mailboxes, no invading/contaminating your doorsteps and no campaign signs on your lawns. Donate instead to our PTAs and SPEF; the money will be better spent on our kids.
For more information, visit AlanSReynolds.com. Email AR.SPUSD@gmail.com.