March 3 Primary Ballots Are Set

Incumbent Kathryn Barger (left) will take on Darrell Park (center) and Sierra Madre Mayor John C. Harabedian in the March 3 primary for Supervisor of L.A. County’s Fifth District — one of three non-presidential contests that will appear on South Pasadena voters’ ballots. Barger and Park tangled in 2016. Courtesy photos

It will be Kathryn Barger versus Darrell Park, Round 3, in the featured local bout on March 3 as voters head to the polls in primary elections for races affecting South Pasadena.

Barger and Park, along with Sierra Madre Mayor John C. Harabedian, will square off for the county supervisor’s seat from the Fifth District — a seat currently held by Barger, a 59-year-old San Marino resident seeking a second four-year term.

All three candidates filed by last Friday’s deadline for most county, state and federal offices.

California voters will also make their decisions on the Democratic and Republican presidential races on March 3 — but among the local slates, the race in the Fifth Supervisorial District figures to be the most hotly contested.

In South Pasadena, City Council races for Districts 1, 2 and 3 will come up in 2020, but the filing deadline to get on the November ballot in those contests is not until August, so there’s no city-specific presence on the March 3 ballot. The incumbents for those seats are Bob Joe, Marina Khubesrian and Richard Schneider, respectively.

But other elected offices covering South Pas that are on the March 3 ballot are for the U.S. House of Representatives (27th District) and the state Assembly (41st District), and those primary ballots are set, too.

Rep. Judy Chu will run unopposed on the Democratic line for a sixth full two-year term in the House of Representatives. Chu rolled to re-election with 79.2 percent of the vote in 2018, beating fellow Democrat Bryan Witt in a midterm race that featured only Dems on the ballot.

This year, two Republicans and one candidate of undeclared party will be on the March 3 ballot for Chu’s seat — Republicans Beatrice Cardenas and Johnny J. Nalbandian, plus non-affiliated Christian Daly.

Cardenas lists herself as a “loan officer/parent” and Nalbandian as a “food industry businessman.” On his LinkedIn page, Daly lists his most recent experience as “city manager intern” for the City of Duarte in 2015.

In the 41st Assembly District, incumbent Chris Holden is running unopposed on the Democratic line. One Republican, Robin A. Hvidston, filed for the seat, which also includes a sliver of San Bernardino County.

Hvidston is executive director of “We The People Rising,” a conservative group that, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, “has held rallies for immigration reform, counter protests to ICE protests and has been especially vocal against illegal immigration.”

In the supervisor’s race, it’s a rematch of Barger and Park, along with Harabedian.

In 2016, Barger succeeded her former boss, Michael Antonovich, who was termed out. Barger had worked 28 years for Antonovich, the last 15 as his chief of staff.

While the supervisor’s position is officially nonpartisan, Barger is known as a moderate Republican who has championed homeless causes while touting fiscal conservatism. She was an early booster of 2017’s county Measure H, which ticketed a quarter-cent county sales tax to aid the homeless crisis. But she also drove the supervisors’ decision to put the measure before voters as a specific tax, dedicated exclusively to battling homelessness, and with a 10-year sunset period.

Barger’s focus has also been on improving conditions for foster children, seniors, veterans and those with disabilities. She is also the biggest booster of police and other first-responders among the five supervisors.

Park, who has never held elective office, describes himself “a proud Democrat, environmentalist (and) community activist.’’ According to his campaign website, since moving to L.A. County more than a decade ago, he “has divided his time between helping clean energy start-up companies … teaching and writing.’’

Before moving to California, Park, a graduate of Stanford’s School of Business, worked in the Clinton Administration’s Office of Management and Budget. He’s also author of the book, “Better Than We Found It: Simple Solutions to Some of the World’s Toughest Problems.”

In the 2016 primary, Barger finished first with 29.64 percent of the vote, with Park the runner-up at 15.5 percent. In the November runoff, Barger captured 57.9 percent of the vote to Park’s 42.10 percent.

But there was nastiness along the way in that battle, with Park decrying L.A. County’s child-welfare system as “befitting a third-world country” — blaming Antonovich and, by extension, Barger.

“She’s been running the office for 15 years,” Park told the Chronicle of Social Change in 2016. “People died on her watch. Money was misspent on her watch.’’

Park also tried to link Barger to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, though Barger stressed she did not support the president’s “radical agenda.”

In a recent interview with The Quarterly — published by Gavilan Media, which also publishes the Review — Barger again distanced herself from Trump, specifically in regard to Trump recommending that immigrants currently getting public assistance not be eligible for citizenship.

“Absolutely, that is unfair,’’ Barger said. “I will not support it. … We went out with the mobile units and aggressively pursued – and promised – these individuals that there would be no negative impact on them. So I think that’s wrong. And so that, for me, is doing the right thing.’’

In 2016, Park was compelled by court order to remove language linking Barger to Trump from his campaign statement.

He also was ordered to drop references to his party affiliation. (Though his current “proud Democrat” description appears as the first words on his campaign website, — along with a poster that reads, “Darrell Park / Democrat / For LA County Supervisor / Let’s Fix It!”

Harabedian, whose campaign website,, also touts his party affiliation — “John Harabedian / Democrat For Supervisor” — was born and raised in Sierra Madre and has served on the City Council there since 2012.

He has a B.A. in political science from Yale. He also worked as a policy analyst for former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa before attending Stanford Law School. His website highlights his work as a student-attorney in Stanford’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and his work with the Equality Pro Bono Project, “which worked with the National Center for Lesbian Rights in providing pro bono legal services to the LGBTQ community.’’

He’s also a former prosecutor in the L.A. District Attorney’s Office who currently is an associate investment manager and legal counsel for a litigation finance company.