The election season kicks off with the Crescenta Valley Town Council election this week. There are nine candidates running to fill three seats. Ballots can be cast by registered voters in the unincorporated portion of Los Angeles in La Crescenta and Montrose. This year, two days have been set aside for voting: Friday, Nov. 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, Sadler Hall, 2563 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta (at the corner of Rosemont). Entrance to the parking lot is on Cross Street.
CV Weekly posed three questions to the candidates to learn why they want your vote. Candidates’ answers are listed below in the same order as is posted on the CV Town Council website.
1) What role do you feel the CVTC fills within the community?
Our Town Council Town serves (in an advisory role) as an elected representative and advocate of our community to Supervisor Michael Antonovich, other local government boards and agencies and the neighboring cities of La Cañada and Glendale. The Town Council is a “messenger” that disseminates information to our community about proposed, plans, activities and projects in our area and, through public meetings, online surveys, and other means, gathers community input about our community’s values, lifestyles, goals and concerns which it presents to the supervisor’s office and other appropriate agencies.
CVTC is the voice of the community.
The Crescenta Valley Town Council is a quasi-governmental agency representing the people of Crescenta Valley in the 5th District Supervisor’s Office. At the CVTC meetings, the public can compliment or complain to the council about issues of concern to them regarding their own community and come away from the meeting with a feeling that they are being heard.
The CVTC gives the community a forum once a month to vent their frustration on whatever issues they are concerned about and hopefully come away with a feeling of satisfaction that they have been heard by government at last. The CVTC then responds to these statements from the residents with suggestions to the residents of how to resolve the issues and if necessary forward these statements on to the supervisor’s office for follow up by the supervisor.
I believe that CVTC’s role is to be the representatives of the La Crescenta-Montrose community. The council is to listen to the opinions of residents, and ultimately be a voice to the supervisor. In addition to this, the council must make decisions for the community as a whole at times, therefore, must have a thorough and wholistic understanding of the community and the issues at stake, in order for them to make decisions for the best interest of the community as a whole.
Los Angeles County, with a 2010 population of almost 10 million residents and countless public and private businesses and organizations, is the most populous county in the United States. In fact, Los Angeles County alone is more populous than 43 individual U.S. states. Accordingly, the role that the CVTC should play, or must play, in our community is to allow residents and business owners to have their concerns heard by the county.
Right now CVTC is trying to fill the role of which a city council normally fills. That is to say harnessing the community’s direct concerns and using that political will to affect positive changes. To that end, CVTC has done an excellent job despite being a mere advisory committee. This is due at least in part to strong advocates that make up the current and past councils; however, it is also due to the close relationship that our area has had with L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. With the venerable supervisor running for another office and his successor still unknown, I am concerned that going forward the community’s needs may not be addressed as effectively as they were in the past.
The CV Town Council wears many hats in our community. First and foremost, we are the liaison between our community and the county supervisor. The council listens to the concerns and needs of our small community and advocates for the La Crescenta residents. The council also acts internally to try to solve needs on a local basis. Our meetings offer a public forum for neighbors to come and discuss and even debate issues of safety and well being. And lastly we serve as a body that champions, supports and celebrates our community, our schools, our students, our athletes and all neighbors.
Jo Ann Stupakis:
The CVTC acts as an advocate for the residents of La Crescenta/Montrose and reports issues and concerns directly to Supervisor Antonovich. Its members should work collaboratively in addressing what is in the best interest of the entire community. The members should be objective, thoughtful, open-minded and have good communication and listening skills.
One role the CVTC fills, as stated in its bylaws, 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.” But this is still aspirational in terms of representation; participation is relatively modest at town meetings.
The role the CVTC should be to best represent our community, both residents and businesses, since we are not an incorporated city and as a result enjoy a lower regulatory burden and lower taxation. But it shouldn’t be taxation without representation, and that’s why the CVTC tries to bridge this gap. Through its Land Use committee, the CVTC “votes to approve, disapprove or request changes to the Land Use recommendation before it is submitted to regional planning.” This is a huge responsibility and role for the CVTC. Just look at some of the myriad land and traffic issues neighbors have shared with me: speeding around schools; making our community more pedestrian-friendly (sidewalks would be helpful); massage parlors on Foothill Boulevard – do we have a problem? I started out wanting to beautify and make more intimate Foothill’s freeway atmosphere, but I’m listening to neighbors and that’s one of many issues the CVTC has a role to fill within the community.
2) What is your priority issue you would like to focus on if elected to CVTC?
In addition to carrying on as a messenger for our community – especially as it pertains to land use issues – there is even a more significant role for the Town Council next year. As everyone knows, our current county supervisor Michael Antonovich will term-out after serving our community for over 35 years. Someone new will replace him on Dec. 5, 2016.
If I am reelected, my primary goal will be to make sure that our community is represented and not forgotten as candidates take positions and make promises and pledges during what is shaping up to be an historic election for our new supervisor by:
• Making sure candidates for supervisor know and care about La Crescenta.
• Inviting all candidates for supervisor to our community to speak at a Town Council meeting and host a least one candidate forum.
• Following through with the successful candidate to make sure those promises and pledges are kept.
Safety and security of this town and its residents’. Keeping La Crescenta the unique and vibrant town that is.
My answer to question two also incorporates question three. That is the schools and the children of Crescenta Valley are my priorities.
When Glendale Unified School District changes to a district form of representation rather than at-large form of representation, then the Crescenta Valley must have a representative on the board of education for us.
This will give us equal representation on the board to deal with The Sagebrush area the school calendar and other issues of concern to the Crescenta Valley.
If I’m elected to CVTC, I would like to figure out ways to help the marginalized youth in the community. Currently, the council provides a lot of support to the youth, but it’s out of reach for many of those in the margins (e.g. minorities, lower class, etc.). In addition to this, I want to push some initiatives in the community to lead us into being an outwardly focused community. I want La Crescenta-Montrose to be known as a community that helps those in poverty all around the world. For example, we can designate a certain percentage of profits from fundraisers and other events to go towards educating girls in the Middle East.
Being a strong advocate for our community is my priority issue. The valid concerns of our community must not only be aired at the monthly meetings of the CVTC, but the CVTC must actively monitor the county and advocate for our community to make sure reasonable remedies are promptly provided to us. Los Angeles County is too large and without a strong advocate such as the CVTC, the community’s concerns will simply fall on deaf ears or other “louder” county residents outside of our community will take precedence. My background as a business and restructuring law partner at a nationally recognized law firm located in downtown Los Angeles near the board of supervisors will help the CVTC be that advocate for our community. This is especially necessary because the 5th District will soon have a new supervisor and that individual will want to learn about our community needs. Furthermore, as the 2015 president of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, along with my membership on the CVTC’s Land Use committee, I hope to bring the needs of our local businesses to the county too.
My first priority is reorganizing Crescenta Valley, incorporating La Crescenta and the surrounding communities into a city. This will ensure that the community is represented and governed effectively and that our need(s) will be directly addressed and met by us. My second and directly related priority is the formation of the Crescenta Valley Unified School District.
What I learned in my first year as a council member is that there is always a new issue or concern that arises. While I thought I would focus mainly on school concerns on the council, given my teaching background, there were other causes that interested me. So that said, I will continue to focus on our local schools, but am open to helping serve the council on whatever events and committees need a helping hand.
Jo Ann Stupakis:
I would like to work on a more open relationship between our neighboring communities – City of Glendale, La Cañada and Sunland-Tujunga. I would like to see better communication between Glendale Unified School District and all stakeholders within La Crescenta/Montrose. Being an employee of GUSD and a resident of unincorporated La Crescenta, I bring a perspective that enables me to be objective, while taking into consideration what is best for my community. I can help build a bridge between the entities that will promote harmony and good will for all stakeholders.
As a parent of four young kids, the oldest of whom is a first grader, a great public education is why we chose to live in La Crescenta. My wife and I are refugees from Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge killed people who wore eyeglasses. Education was our escape from poverty; she has an MBA and I’m a professor at Occidental College. In practical “priority issue” terms, this means getting all La Crescenta children to school safe and sound – we walk most days – and giving them an excellent learning environment with as much resources from GUSD as possible. We’ve paid our taxes, we deserve better representation on the CVTC.
3) Recently, there have been some issues between Crescenta Valley residents and Glendale Unified School District and in some aspects with the City of Glendale. Those that have voiced concern cite the lack of communication with those living within the GUSD area, unincorporated area of Los Angeles County-La Crescenta, and far north Glendale annex. Rockhaven, the school calendar and Sagebrush are some of the recent issues in question.
What role do you feel CVTC plays in these issues and how should the Council respond?
After attending many community meetings on this issue, there does not seem to be a clear consensus on the future of Rockhaven. Some want the Rockhaven site preserved “as-is;” others would allow “holistic” development, while others would see the site sold. Since Rockhaven is within the City of Glendale and the site is owned by the City, the role of the Town Council will likely be limited to letters of support to the City of Glendale encouraging site preservation in a manner that serves the local community.
The school calendar and the Sagebrush territory transfer are two related issues that have direct impacts on out local community and our schools. If the Sagebrush transfer is successful, attendance (and associated funds) to our local schools will decrease as over 200 students in the Sagebrush area begin attending schools in the La Cañada School District. Changes in the school calendar that include a start date in August disrupt local parents’ plans for traditional summer activities.
Members of the Town Council, led by our President Robbyn Battles, have attended numerous school board meetings on both issues. As a result, school officials appear more willing to clarify issues tied to enrollment and bond payments and to seek parents’ input through community meetings, and to create a committee to shape a new school calendar based on feedback they receive.
It will be the responsibility of the next Town Council to carry on President Battle’s efforts on both issues and to make itself available as a forum for discussions on the nascent efforts by some members of our community to form our own school district.
CVTC and residents of La Crescenta should continue to work together.
Involvement, participation and hard work have resulted in neighborhood Blue Ribbon Schools; therefore the best interest of the residents and students needs to be secured and protected.
The role the CVTC plays in our area is basically what I have outlined in the above answers to those questions. Additionally, the CVTC can give its support in the future as it has done in the past to the Crescenta Valley Water District in its quest to capture storm water, thereby reduce the CVWD need to purchase “imported water” and to continue with its program to purchase and “clean water” from the Rockhaven well at a good rate so as to keep the cost of water down for the CVWD customers who are in reality ourselves.
no answer submitted
As I discuss above, providing a forum for discussing these important matters is not enough, the CVTC in conjunction with our many other fine civic and business organizations must demand that our concerns are considered by the county and the other stakeholders and that we are not just brushed aside. I am convinced that it was the uproar we caused that slowed down the march to swiftly settle the Sagebrush dispute so that the impact on Mountain Avenue Elementary, along with the impact district-wide, could be first assessed and properly valued. Similarly, the Rockhaven and school calendar issues, along with the outrageous I-710 extension and Foothill Boulevard beatification matters, are examples where the CVTC can take an active leadership role. I hope that the voters will decide that I am the right person to advocate for the community that I love.
Joshua Wade: The Crescenta Valley is divided, and we have an opportunity today to make it whole again. The issues you bring up all have one thing in common: people outside of our own community decide them. While the CVTC does an excellent job advocating the community’s position, we as a unified city can do more than just advocate; we can directly control our own future.
I believe, like many, that GUSD does tend to overlook our community. La Crescenta is home to some amazing schools. Some might say the crown jewels of GUSD. The town council has pushed and will continue to push for a seat at the table on important discussions concerning the schools. I know there has been talk about spinning off to our own school district, certainly something that can be explored to test the feasibility. But there is no need to act in haste.
The council needs to continue to be vocal and demand to be a part of any proceedings that directly affect our area schools. Whether you live in unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, La Crescenta, and far north Glendale annex, if your child will find themselves at Crescenta Valley High in coming years, then you are a stakeholder in this process. I believe that the CVTC speaks for all these stakeholders. I will certainly do my best to see that all are represented.
Jo Ann Stupakis:
The CVTC plays a huge role in these issues as the representative body of unincorporated La Crescenta/Montrose. Community members voice their concerns to the council members and rely on them to take action to have the issues addressed. It is the responsibility of the council to come together, discuss the issues, decide on the best course of action which will benefit the majority of community members, and then professionally and openly communicate with the city and/or district to work together to find solutions. This needs to be accomplished in a non-confrontational, diplomatic manner through meetings which are set up between the CVTC spokespersons and the entity involved. It is my strong belief that communication starts between individuals and that public displays should be reserved for issues that require large scale involvement.
I bring to the council my experience with and knowledge of the operations of GUSD, my open-mindedness, good communication skills, my objectivity and the courage to stand for what the residents feel is best, then communicate that clearly through my role on council.
The CVTC has an important role to play in representing our community’s interests so as to influence the Glendale Unified School District. I can help do that as a member of GUSD Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, which I joined in September. We can hope things will get better with by-area elections, if we can get a seat representing La Crescenta and Montrose on the GUSD board. If not, the credible threat of an independent school district will send a strong message to GUSD to keep us in mind and to listen to us. Same thing with the GUSD calendar starting too soon (this year 10 August, requiring us to cut our vacation short), nearly 2,500 folks signed the “Save our GUSD Summers,” including yours truly. On Sagebrush, it’s democracy in action. People who live in one city should be united with their school district. The concern is what happens to Mountain Avenue Elementary School? GUSD would get fewer resources, due to taxes transferring over to La Cañada Unified, but we have to ensure that Mountain Avenue remains open and continues its outstanding performance.
With respect to Rockhaven, a historical treasure, same thing: the ball is in the City Council of Glendale’s court, but the CVTC has got to advocate for our community’s interests. I believe Rockhaven should be a public park in as much as possible; keeping it locked-up since 2006 makes no sense. It’s a public resource that cost taxpayers $8.25 million in 2008.