Candidates for town council and water district take the podium to answer final questions from the voters before the Nov. 2 and Nov. 5 elections.
By Jason KUROSU
Just one week after the candidates for the Crescenta Valley Town Council debated before an audience, the candidates gathered again at the La Crescenta Library Thursday night to give the public another opportunity to hear them before the elections. The Nov. 2 election will determine the makeup of the CV Town Council as well as that of the Crescenta Valley Water District board of directors on Nov. 5.
Nine town council candidates (four incumbents) stated their cases for the six open town council seats (three council seats and three seats for alternates), describing their ties to La Crescenta and their ideas for improving the current state of the community. The candidates also responded to questions from the audience.
Though all nine town council candidates spoke about their hopes of contributing to La Crescenta, they did differ over particular issues, such as development within the community, a topic that produced varied responses.
Some were unwavering in their objection to further development, such as Harry Leon, who said, “Why did we move to La Crescenta? Because we like it how it is and we want to keep it that way.”
Krista Smiley also warned against what she saw as overbuilding, with large houses taking up open space and affecting the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood.
“I’m a big believer in open space and we don’t have a lot here,” said Smiley. “I really think that zoning and the laws are to be enforced.”
Others felt that each circumstance should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
“All of these laws are very black and white,” said Mariam Gabra Barnes. “But there are scenarios that are unique to each person. I think that’s the purpose of the town council, mainly to have subjectivity when it comes to individuals.”
Kyle Studebaker also did not want to be too stringent when dealing with development, while still taking the thoughts of neighboring residents into consideration.
“I don’t believe that we should be stagnant,” she said. “We need to be progressive, but thoughtful.”
Incumbent Cheryl Davis, who currently is the council president, felt that new rules adopted by the Land Use Committee would have a positive impact on how the community deals with development issues. Previously, membership on the Land Use Committee was only available to town council members, or professionals in Land Use issues such as licensed developers or contractors.
“We’re slowly going in the right direction. We now have non-council members on the Land Use
Committee. It’s nice because you get a better representation of the community,” said Davis. “You have some that are pro-development, some that are anti-development, some in the middle. That’s how the entire community is and that’s how the Land Use Committee should be.”
The candidates were also asked to state what changes they would like to see with Foothill Boulevard.
Kerri Lewin felt that modern times have altered the small town charm of La Crescenta, especially along Foothill Boulevard.
“I would like to see a more cohesive look along Foothill Boulevard,” said Lewin. “There are some office buildings that just stick out like a sore thumb. What most people are attracted to in La Crescenta is that hometown feel.”
Lisa Griffin, who previously lived in New York City, suggested timed traffic lights to aid the flow of traffic.
“There are certain times of the day that I hate Foothill Boulevard, usually around when schools get out. I think about it usually when I’m driving and stopping at each light, because in Manhattan all the lights are timed. If there was a way to do something like that, I think that would work well.”
The town council’s outreach to other communities, such La Cañada, Sparr Heights, etc., within the entirety of Crescenta Valley was another topic of interest.
“Town Council is about service to the community,” said incumbent Dr. Young Suh. “The more people involved in an organization, the better it will be.”
Leslie Dickson said she has already spoken to people in Sparr Heights about attending CV Town Council meetings, though at first some didn’t think information at CVTC meetings would apply to them.
“I told them, ‘Your children go to Crescenta Valley High School in the CV Town Council area. You have to drive on Foothill Boulevard. We are one big community.’”
For more information on the candidates, visit thecvcouncil.com.
Immediately afterwards, the forum for the four candidates for seats on the CV Water District board of directors took place. The ballot on Nov. 5 will feature three incumbents in James Bodnar, Kerry Erickson and Ken Putnam, with Charles Beatty in the running for the first time since 2011.
In the previous debate, Beatty spoke about one of the major tenets of his campaign, the use of solar power funded by a municipal bond to reduce the district’s electricity costs – an idea the other three candidates said would be costly and ineffective in lowering water rates.
Beatty continued to espouse solar power one week later.
“We have to do something,” said Beatty. “We can’t continue to have the rates go up and up and up.”
Bodnar said he “felt solar energy would be great if it was cost effective,” but ultimately said solar power would do little to lower costs and focused on other factors he found to be more vital to the district.
“There’s been some discussion about solar panels [reducing electricity], but that’s only about 6% of our costs. With respect to the district, I want to focus more on the 90%, the more important issues: ensuring we have a reliable water supply, that we can get our wells rehabbed and up to date so that we can purchase less imported water.”
Erickson said the water board had previously explored solar power and considered it to be infeasible economically, but also practically.
“We have the problem of real estate. Where do you put these things? If we put them on tanks, we may have to reinforce the roofs. There’s the aesthetics of it, too.”
Erickson instead favored replacing and improving infrastructure.
“Our pipelines, pumps, reservoirs and control systems are aging,” he said. “We must also improve our facilities to prevent a loss in service during a disaster.”
Erickson also said the district must focus on increasing water availability through conservation and storm water capture in order to decrease costs.
Putnam said solar power would ultimately be too costly to sustain.
“Solar energy is very important to many agencies where you have the money to pay for the infrastructure,” he said. “You don’t get solar free.”
Putnam advocated a focus on replacing the district’s aging infrastructure as well.
“The primary expense we have is in the replacement and maintenance of equipment,” he said. “If we don’t replace the infrastructure and keep the system operating the way it was designed, then your expenses are going to go up.”