By Mary O’KEEFE
The May 19 meeting of the Crescenta Valley Town Council hosted Kathryn Barger, candidate for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors fifth district seat.
Barger was the last of the candidates who spoke at the CVTC meetings. State Senator Robert “Bob” Huff, Mitch Englander,
Dep. District Attorney Elan S. Carr and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian all visited earlier CVTC meetings to speak about their candidacy and what they envision for the future of L.A. County in relationship to the Crescenta Valley area.
Barger has been the chief deputy supervisor in the fifth district; she manages Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office and serves as the official liaison for community and business groups. She is from the fifth district and said she has deep roots in this area where she grew up.
“I genuinely have a passion for [L.A.] County and the service we provide,” she said. “Mike [Antonovich] has been in office for 35 years. I understand what he
has built and I am ready to take it to the next level.”
Antonovich, who has served as supervisor of the fifth district, termed out this year. He has endorsed Barger.
Barger said her father, who served as California State insurance commissioner under then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, taught her not only the value of public service but “you attack the problems, not the people.”
“[The L.A. County Supervisors office] has worked very closely with our town councils. And what I like to remind people is the fifth district is the only district that has town councils,” she said.
As a way to connect with areas of the unincorporated Los Angeles County – like La Crescenta and Montrose – Antonovich created local councils like CVTC. Barger added that the town councils were created because past leadership was headquartered in downtown L.A. Antononvich felt that people in the unincorporated areas did not have representation and wanted a way to hear their voices. The councils, like CVTC, are elected positions.
In addition to the councils, Antonovich makes certain he has people from the fifth district working in his office, a policy Barger wants to continue.
“We are committed to our town councils. You are our eyes and ears; without you we would be deaf,” she said.
Barger knows the CV community and its passion for open spaces and that is why the supervisor’s office has been so supportive and generous with local parks.
She added the office has set aside money to go toward the purchase of Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The area is in the City of Los Angeles and for several years developers have wanted to tear down the golf course to build housing. The public is in opposition to this.
“I do not feel homes should be built there, I only wish the city of L.A. would allocate their portions of the funds,” she said.
Barger added she does understand the diversity of the area she wishes to lead.
“The fifth district is the largest of all districts. It is not ‘one size fits all.’ What is right for the Antelope Valley I guarantee you is not going to be right for this region,” she said.
There are a total of five districts served by the Board of Supervisors.
One of the questions from the audience at the CVTC meeting concerned the 710 extension that includes a proposed tunnel that would connect with the Foothill (210) Freeway. There has been a lot of controversy over the issue with a large contingent of residents, especially those in South Pasadena, La Cañada and Crescenta Valley, against the project.
Antonovich has voted to support the 710 extension. The question to Barger asked what her position would be if the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) came back in favor of the project.
“I am not waiting for the EIR,” she said.
She added that South Pasadena had commissioned a study on traffic and what could be done to improve congestion. If elected, Barger said she plans on implementing some of the South Pasadena suggestions. She wants to gather together the affected cities and talk about how to improve traffic.
“Caltrans is the driving [force] of three-fourths of this [710 project]. I don’t know whether they are waiting for us to cry uncle and say okay build the tunnel,” she said. “In the meanwhile I am saying Rome is burning. [Traffic] is getting worse, people are getting more aggressive on the road and you [are seeing] more hit and runs and more accidents. So one of the first things I would do is look at South Pasadena’s study.”
Synchronization of signal lights, adding reverse flow lanes and using the Gold Line (Metro) are just a few simple things she said could be looked at immediately.
Barger added she will look at the EIR before making a final decision on the 710 tunnel; however, she has heard the study is flawed especially in the area of air particulates.
“I don’t want to turn on the TV [in years later] and see inaction by the government has caused cancer clusters or caused women who were pregnant at the time to give birth to children with long-term health conditions. So if the EIR is flawed…I can’t support it,” she said.
However, she added, until she reads the EIR, which is over 26,000 pages long, she cannot commit to a position.
In addition to Barger, the CVTC honored local students and
presented scholarships. Recipients were Benjamin Mitchell, Mark Matheu, Jabob Matthews, Rebecca Freeman, Mackenzie Holmquist, Anie Garabedian, Elektra Mirzakhanian, Emily Frink, Elin Aboolian, Ara Mandjikian,
Elizabeth Hart and Annie Kim. Honorable mentions went to Arya Alanizi, Viviana Sandoval Walsh, Rachel Harvey and Jemma Kwak.