By Brandon HENSLEY
A battle for the top three positions on the Crescenta Valley Town Council took place Oct. 18 during the council’s monthly meeting, and each candidate emphasized the need for social media and community awareness to Town Council issues.
Six candidates have applied, and all are assured of being on the council when the election takes place on Nov. 3 at the La Crescenta Library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But only three can be full-time councilmembers, with the privilege of casting votes on civic matters. The other three will serve as alternates.
Each of the six candidates – newcomers Daniel Cheung, Leslie Dickson and Marti Marshall, current alternate Mike Claessens, and current members Robbyn Battles and Robert Thomas – had a three-minute opening statement and then took questions that had been submitted by the audience.
Cheung is the youngest candidate, having graduated from Crescenta Valley High School in 2006. He was a member of the JROTC there, and attended college at UCLA. He left the council forum after his statement because he had a flight to catch, but said before he left he wanted to continue to give people the opportunities he was afforded, as well as use social media to help reach out to the foothills.
“Despite the budget cuts, despite the district being in shambles, despite the state being in shambles, La Crescenta and the community continue to be a strong and vibrant community,” Cheung said.
Thomas stressed his theme of “Peace in the Valley” and talked about working together with agencies or districts without contention.
Claessens said he wants the community to know more about issues or potential emergencies. He cited the Station Fire as an example of some residents being unaware of what to do. He also is an advocate for more disclosure from L.A. County, Glendale Unified School District and other civic organizations.
“I want to do as much as I can to try and get the community to be aware of what’s going on around here,” he said.
Dickson, who has served on the school council at Monte Vista Elementary, said she’s a proponent of using social media to get messages out to the public.
“We really need to reach out to the community through social media, just letting people know about the great things La Crescenta has to offer,” she said.
Marshall, who helped form the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, agreed on finding ways to let residents know what’s happening.
“The people who don’t come to the Town Council don’t know what it’s for. We are here to help them with any issues … just to know that we are available,” she said.
Battles seemed to be more focused. She had four main points she outlined during the forum: set up a pedestrian master plan to make neighborhoods safer to walk and to get to school, to involve the community in council committees such as the Land Use, to make a community bulletin board that she said L.A County has approved it – it just needs to see the rendering – and to find more ways to raise money for the council.
Battles was adamant about her pedestrian plan.
“We won’t just be working on a flashing crosswalk at Glenwood,” she said. “We won’t just be working on crosswalks at El Adobe. We won’t be worried about hundreds of kids everyday trying to dodge cars at Los Amigos and Rosemont [avenues]. There will be a comprehensive plan and that’s what we need,”
A question was asked whether people not living in the unincorporated area of La Crescenta should be allowed to vote for council members. Marshall answered yes.
“They have a stake in our community,” she said.
Another question dealt with the Land Use Committee, which deals with public projects in the unincorporated parts of La Crescenta and Montrose, and whether councilmembers should be required to be on it,.
Claessens and Dickson said yes, but Battles said no.
“I don’t know if there’s enough skill that currently sits at the table or that will be sitting at the table to represent the community on that,” she said.
Thomas agreed about the need to have people with other skills having input.
“What it really takes is expertise,” he said.
Absentee ballots must be requested by this Saturday and sent to PO Box 8676 La Crescenta, CA 91224. The next CVTC meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
» Meet the Candidates
CVW submitted three identical questions to each of the six candidates. Here are the results:
1) What do you see as the role of the Crescenta Valley Town Council in the community of the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, La Crescenta?
The most common response is that Council represents the voice of the community to L.A. County Supervisors office for the Fifth District. I see the Council as much more. I see the Council as a great conduit within our community. There are many concerns, questions and issues, some in need of the Supervisors’ attention and others that simply need to be connected to the right people within the community. CVTC has the ability to make many terrific connections and in turn contribute to create terrific benefits for the community, for instance: the dog park, a lighted crosswalk at Glenwood and Foothill, bike lanes, a library and, on a simpler level, aid a Scout project, help GUSD get information distributed or simply support great organizations like Prom Plus or the veterans. I also feel Council has a responsibility to improve its outreach. Council tends to operate too much within themselves. If Council’s first responsibility is to represent the voice of the community, then they need to make better strides to find out what the community is saying.
The main purpose of the CV Town Council is to provide a public forum for the community to express their concerns about our community and, if possible, to assist in the resolution of those concerns through communication with appropriate county and regional public agencies including County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
The role of the CV Town Council is to serve as a liaison between community organizations and leaders, and members of the community. As such, it’s primary obligation is to facilitate two-way communication, which could be made easier through online platforms and social media.
The CV Town Council is responsible for communicating the needs of the community to the appropriate governmental agencies.
The role of the CVTC is to provide a forum where the residents and businesses of unincorporated areas of La Crescenta and Montrose can come to discuss any issues they have. The CVTC will work with various governmental agencies and local organizations to meet the needs of the community.
Per the CVTC ByLaws:
The purpose of the Council is to provide a forum, through a town meeting, to identify and discuss the issues of concern to the residents and businesses in the unincorporated areas of La Crescenta and Montrose (census tracts 3001, 3002, and 3005), and to represent those residents and businesses. The Council shall also work together with government bodies and agencies, as well as local agencies and organizations, to meet the needs of the community.
2) What qualifications, life or career background, do you think will most help you if you are elected, or re-elected, to the Crescenta Valley Town Council?
I am ending my fourth year on Council and in all honesty I had no idea what I was going to do on Council when I was first elected. These past four years have been a real education. I have worked hard to develop strong and respectful working relationships with Public Works, Highway Patrol, GUSD as well as various other community organizations. These relationships are necessary to have successful outcomes within the community. I bring a strong “get things done” force to council. I know the community layout based on my career where I continue to sell real estate here in the Foothills. In addition, I have lived in the community for over 45 years. The combination of the latter will allow me to continue to help accomplish what the community wants done.
Before opening my own law practice, I worked 32 years for the City of Los Angeles, first for the Dept. of Bldg. & Safety as a Building Mechanical Inspector, ultimately becoming a Chief Inspector for the City, then for the City Attorneys Office as a criminal prosecutor, then as a defense litigator, and as lead counsel in internal investigations and complex and class action matters. I supervised more than 100 attorneys and staff in defending cases of governmental misconduct, civil rights, employment, and police practices. A former plumber and carpenter, I hold California General Building and Plumbing Contractor Licenses and I have taught Fire Science at Cal State L.A., receiving an Award for Excellence from the L.A. Fire Department for my work.
I believe I can utilize my construction, land use and government experience and expertise to assist my community in being heard by local government agencies and I can help facilitate effective resolutions to problems within our community.
I am a lifelong resident of La Crescenta, having grown up in the community. I am currently working as an independent educational consultant and understand many of the issues that face our schools and our students. I understand that the role of the Town Council is to represent the needs of the Crescenta Valley community, and I will work hard to make that a reality.
I was born at Verdugo Hills Hospital and grew up in this community. I attended our schools, just as my parents did and now our children are doing. I have spent my entire adult life volunteering for this community. When I was still in college I was teaching the youth of our church and as a mother I volunteer in scouts, soccer and at the school. In addition, I was a teacher and earned my master’s degree in Administration which focuses on identifying the needs of stakeholders and making sure those needs are met.
I helped get the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council certified and I’ve served on its board in various capacities for several years.
Additionally, I had a group in Sunland-Tujunga (STABLE – Sunland-Tujunga Association for a Better Living Environment) that did various community projects, such as cleaning up Foothill Boulevard and the Tujunga Wash, participated in the 4th of July Parade & Fireworks (and one year a picnic at the park after the parade), Watermelon Festival, and many other activities.
Since moving to La Crescenta a couple years ago, I regularly attend the CVTC meetings and am active in the community, doing the monthly La Crescenta off ramp cleanups.
My son is a junior at CVHS and also a Boy Scout in the community and we do service projects with the Scouts, such as Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day at Two Strike Park. Additionally, he will be doing his Eagle Project here in La Crescenta, suggested at a CVTC meeting by a community member. I currently serve as Charter Organization Representative with Troop 288.
The eight years experience that I have obtained as a Council Member. The 32 years experience I have obtained as a licensed real estate broker working in our community.
3) What is the issue that has prompted you to run for a seat on CVTC?
At the candidate forum I presented five points presented as “Big Ideas from Robbyn Battles”:
1. Create a Pedestrian Master Plan.
The goal will be to clearly define what the community wants in order to improve pedestrian and traffic safety throughout our neighborhoods with better lighting, signage, physical improvements such as pedestrian islands on Foothill. In addition, we will address safe routes to our local schools.
2. Get Money.
The Council has to raise its own money just to pay for the phone. We need to work with the Supervisors’ office to have a small operating budget in order to create more effective ways to reach a greater portion of our community.
3. Involve the community in more of our committees.
The council operates too much within itself. With better outreach, the Council will have more involvement from the community, thus a bigger portion of the community is represented.
4. Community Bulletin Board.
This is a great way for the community to post what’s going on without littering signage all over our local telephone and Edison poles.
5. Engage the community to help with all of the above.
I was spurred to run for CV Town Council by the Station Fire and the resulting flood preparations. My wife and I were evacuated a number of times. Each time we left our home, we didn’t know what was going on and it was very difficult to find out when we could return. We were frightened and we felt helpless and victimized. The only information came from the news and out-of-area Sheriff’s deputies who didn’t know very much. After working in local government for many years, I believe I can use my background and training to bring some expertise and experience to bear on the issues facing this community.
I am especially interested in improving communication between emergency services and the people who live here and are most affected and, more importantly, insist that the views and preferences of our residents be considered seriously and acted upon. That goes for every issue, whether it’s the 710 connection, the Foothill Community Standards District, or open-spaces planning. I strongly believe that the views and needs of the people in the neighborhoods most impacted should be given first priority and deference.
There are two issues that brought me to the Town Council. First, it was a sense of pride that the CV community has been able to maintain its excellence despite state and district budget cuts. I wanted to be a part of the community that made this possible. Second, I believe that I bring a unique understanding of online media that could help the Town Council tremendously over the coming years, and I look forward to helping bring the community together for whatever its needs may be.
It’s important for all community members to be involved in the community. As a mother to five children in the GUSD system I am already involved as a referee/team mom for AYSO 88, as a Cub Scout leader for Pack 360, on the School Site Council for Monte Vista and in our church. It seemed the next logical step was to get involved in local government and have a say as to how funds are spent in our city. I want to represent the young families in our community. Often times we are not represented at town council because we are too tired from feeding a baby at night or too busy with toddlers at home. But that is exactly when we need to be involved; when decisions are being made that affect the parks our children play in and the cross walks they use to get to school.
I like to help and was asked to run for the CVTC. I would like to see more outreach into the community, so more people know about the CVTC before they have a problem that needs to be addressed. Most people find out about the CVTC if an issue comes up and they personally are affected by it. That’s when they find us. Outreach is important so that residents know they have a place to go to if they have questions or need help.
To determine if a majority in our community wishes to limit the size of new homes and additions in the unincorporated area of La Crescenta/Montrose so that new homes and additions will conform better to their neighborhood.
Voters can take a quick survey on CVTC Election Day (Nov. 3) to let their voice be heard on the issue of limiting the size of new homes.