Town Council forum provides insight on candidates

By Brandon HENSLEY

The Nov. 6 Crescenta Valley Town Council elections are drawing nearer, and last Thursday the council held a candidates’ forum during its meeting, as the public heard each candidates’ position on topics ranging from mansionization to the expansion of the 710 Freeway.

Held inside the La Crescenta Library community room, eight of the candidates – Charles Beatty, Krista Smiley, Cheryl Davis, Michael Claessens, Harry Leon, Thomas Pollock, Odalis Suarez and Will Swick – took turns answering questions from cards during a forum moderated by councilmember Robbyn Battles.

Two candidates – Charly Shelton and Dr. Young Soek Suh – were not able to attend but had representatives there to read prepared statements.

Each candidate, including current councilmember Charles Beatty and President Cheryl Davis, opened the forum by stating their reasons for running.

Davis said she wants to continue to see through the construction and opening of the first L.A. County-owned and operated dog park, for which funding was approved earlier this month.

“I ran on the dog park platform and I hope to see this three-and-a-half-year vision come true,” she said.

Davis’ other main concern is reorganizing members of the Land Use Committee.

“Currently, the Land Use Committee is only made up only of Town Council members, but I feel that being elected to Town Council doesn’t mean that you have the experience, the knowledge, or even necessarily the desire to be on [the committee],” she said. “So last month I proposed that the Land Use Committee be made up of council members and appointed members of our community.”

Beatty would like to see a lighted crosswalk where Glenwood Avenue meets Foothill Boulevard, but acknowledged the obstacles in facing that.

“Specifically, the supervisor’s office is the one who makes the decision as to whether or not they feel that [the lighted crosswalk] is prudent for that particular area. They come out, they do their surveys, and they check this out, and they don’t seem to think [the time is right].”

Smiley is a former councilmember who would like to protect the community’s open space and also make Montrose a part of Foothill Boulevard’s Community Standard’s Design, a group that oversees the designs of new construction on the boulevard.

Suh wrote that he would tackle the drug issue facing the schools and also bridge communication with Korean residents and the council.

Claeseens, who has 32 years of governmental experience, said he wants to develop a better, more realistic plan for community trails and also open up a better line of communication with L.A. County.

Leon, perhaps the most gracious candidate of the night, said his main issue was creating a youth council and advocated for more public participation. He said he admired the way former councilmember Steve Pierce did his job.

“It really, really amazed me, and it made me want to be a part of the Town Council. It made me proud to be from CV,” he said.

Pollack, a former Marine, also advocated more public participation and said he would best represent the thoughts and feelings of the community.

At 21, Shelton would be the youngest councilmember, but wrote in his statement that his age would serve the council well in connecting with youth.

Suarez has served as a Glendale civil service commissioner and member of the city’s Design Review Board. She also echoed Claessens’ thoughts on clearer dialogue with the county.

“We really don’t know what things are happening until they’re happening,” she said.

Swick said he would like to create more awareness to what the council is about. He also took the stance in favor of the expansion of the 710 Freeway, which would run from Pasadena through CV and Sunland-Tujunga. Every other candidate was opposed to the idea.

“It’s going to relieve a lot of pressure. I think that traffic will, at certain points, be more and at a certain points, be less,” Swick said. “There may be more business, more people coming to this area.”

“We all know really what this is intended for,” Smiley said of the freeway. “It’s to move service goods from the Long Beach Harbor into central California. But we do have railways. We can improve on our railways … I don’t want it here.”

Smiley and Beatty were the only ones to outright support mansionization. The others all said they might be in favor of it depending on the codes placed on the buildings.

“I don’t think it’s too late, but I think [the council] needs to address the issue,” Beatty said.

The CVTC elections will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Library community room. Absentee ballots must be received by Nov. 6, not postmarked on that date. Voters may vote for up to three candidates.