By Jason KUROSU
Five of the six candidates vying for seats on next year’s Crescenta Valley Town Council were provided an opportunity to campaign for the upcoming election during Thursday night’s town council meeting. The mid-meeting candidates’ forum allowed them to elaborate on their motivations for running and what they hope to accomplish when they become town council members.
Though the candidates requested that audience members come out and vote for them, all six will be on the council after the election, with the top three vote getters receiving three-year terms, while the remaining three will receive one-year terms.
“You’re all hired,” said moderator and current CV Town Council member Mike Claessens jokingly, before opening up the forum to questions.
Three of the candidates currently serve on the Crescenta Valley Town Council: Charles Beatty, Mariam Barnes and Leslie Dickson. Desiree Rabinov and Kevin Kang were the incoming candidates present, while Lisa Griffin was absent.
Beatty has served on the council in various positions over the past 24 years, including president on three occasions.
“I feel privileged to serve,” said Beatty, who stressed that through his years of experience, through “ups and downs,” that the current council is the finest he has served on.
Rabinov is a newcomer to the council, but has lived in La Crescenta for 27 years and also works as a transportation planning manager for Metro.
She stated that building partnerships with neighboring cities was an issue she would pursue as a council member.
“We share the same school system and transportation with Glendale. We share a transportation system with La Cañada as well. I think that we should have an active role in building those partnerships with those cities, considering we share those services. It would be really fantastic if we could also bridge some of the projects that we do with them and leverage our resources.”
Rabinov said her longtime residence in the area indicated devotion.
“The thing about people in La Crescenta, they come back here, several generations of families. I feel that my kids are going to do the same, so I want to leave La Crescenta as a beautiful place for them to come back to.”
Barnes was elected as a town council alternate last year, a result she hopes to rectify in this upcoming election. Barnes said that though the result stung, she learned of several other community volunteer opportunities outside of the council, including co-chair duties for the Crescenta Valley Youth Town Council and working with the Scholarship Committee and Prayer Breakfast Committee.
“Part of that volunteerism was not with the intent of prepping for my campaign for this year, it was with the intent of keeping my word from last year,” said Barnes. “If you want somebody who’s genuinely passionate about our community and who genuinely cares, vote for me.”
Kang is a longtime Crescenta Valley resident who is currently attending Biola University and is also a student youth pastor at the Fulcrum in La Crescenta. Kang expressed an interest in increasing youth participation in the community.
“La Crescenta is an amazing place to live, but with that, no community is perfect,” said Kang, who spoke with particular concerns for youth issues. “I think the town council, churches and other organizations are doing a fantastic job at really building this community. But just like any good organization, there are holes and we see a lot of youth slipping through those holes, falling into drugs, a lot of other things.”
Kang said that social media was one potential resource for engaging youth in community issues, something he utilizes at his church.
Dickson said that her time serving on the council provided her with the opportunity to engage in local affairs, something she feels that many residents are missing out on. Dickson said that through her children she is involved in a plethora of local volunteer opportunities, mostly involving youths.
“I feel like I’m the right choice because I have a lot of connections with the people that are way too busy to come here on Thursday nights, because they’re going to their PTA meetings and their school sites. So they don’t feel connected to our town because they can’t come to these meetings.”
Dickson advocated that the council work more to spread information throughout the community, perhaps through a council newsletter.
“If we had a monthly synopsis of what actually happened at the meeting and could circulate that through the schools, that would be great.”
The candidates were also asked about specific changes in La Crescenta and their positions on residential and commercial development.
Beatty said that a residential community standards district was necessary to combat what he saw as burgeoning “mansionization.”
Beatty also said that he would like to “keep our rural community the way it is,” but did advocate some changes.
Beatty said he would push for a lighted crosswalk on Briggs Avenue, but did not want lighting all over the area. He also expressed concerns about bike lanes, which he said were not used correctly by some cyclists in the area.
Rabinov said that “we definitely could make some changes to Foothill Boulevard,” including medians, as well as more bike lanes and streetlights throughout the community.
“There are a lot of different ways to build medians within the corridor without impeding on various businesses,” said Rabinov.
Rabinov also advocated reduced speed limits on certain streets to improve safety.
Barnes said that there has been a lack of enforcement as far as development is concerned, but also said, “I think it’s a great thing when people want to improve their homes and make changes. I think the town council serves as a great forum to bring [those issues] to the community, so people can change their property while taking their neighbors into consideration and the community as a whole.”
Dickson said she doesn’t agree with telling people what they should do with their property, but allowed that there should be a “happy medium” which would also keep residents from encroaching on neighboring properties. Dickson also said that some things could be done to beautify Foothill Boulevard, but that medians were not the answer, adding that they would make it difficult to access businesses and also create opportunities for unsafe U-turns.
Dickson said she likes the neighborhood the way it is for the most part, but did note that “we need sidewalks where children are walking to schools in heavily blocked areas, but we don’t need sidewalks or streetlights throughout all of La Crescenta. It should be a block-by-block decision when we make these choices.”
The CV Town Council Election will be held at the La Crescenta Library on Nov. 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Requests for absentee ballots must be received by Nov. 1 and are available at www.thecvcouncil.com. Volunteers for Election Day are welcomed and appreciated.