With two prospective candidates formally pulling out Wednesday, John (Jack) Donovan’s quest to succeed Dr. Marina Khubesrian as the Second District’s representative on the South Pasadena City Council has gone from a long slog to a long wait.
Only a week ago he was ramping up to face Khubesrian, a two-term, two-time mayor who he said would be a “formidable opponent.”
But last week Khubesrian, facing a possible criminal investigation for using a fake email to threaten a council colleague, pulled out of the race. Then on Wednesday, South Pasadena Beautiful President Marianne Veach and resident Rachel Johnson–both of whom also pulled papers to run against Khubesrian–opted not to file their nomination papers, leaving Donovan the only person standing when the nomination window closed Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm.
Donovan told the South Pasadena News he still intends to run his campaign “as though I have an opponent. I want the people to know who they are voting for and why.”
Donovan, a metals marketing entrepreneur who has lived in South Pasadena for four decades and previously served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and as volunteer commissioner with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), said he is concerned about the “general direction” of the city.
In particular, he believes the city’s multiple commissions have suffered under the current administration because they are allowed no input in the decision-making process.
Donovan also believes the city has not performed well in its financial management. As a candidate, “a priority for me would be to get the city back to fiscal stability.”
Johnson could not be contacted but Veach, a life-long South Pasadenan whose great-grandparents came to town at the turn of the 20th century, said she pulled papers to run over her concern there would be only a single candidate in the race, one she believes has not put forward a substantial platform. But she decided against filing after concluding the time commitment could total 40 to 50 hours per month, if not more.
“I agonized over it.” While certain she is qualified, Veach and her husband–who works long shifts–have a 3-year-old child to look after.
Veach, 40, said the City Council “needs some younger, fresher, more progressive bodies on it.” She is concerned about “how sustainably we are living in South Pasadena,” about affordable housing and how the city will go about providing more units with access to public transit.
“More than half the people in town are renters like me who live here because the schools are good, it’s safe, and we want a good, happy community, but are always worried we are not going to be able to stay. That’s the voice I wanted to have.
“But the system is not set up for people like that run,” she said, because council members receive only a $300 monthly stipend and must make a huge time commitment. “Most people in town can’t afford to do that and that means we have a City Council that is not representative of most people in this city.”
The evaporation of Donovan’s opposition still leaves the city with two competitive city council races. Incumbent Mayor Robert Joe will face City Clerk Evelyn Zneimer for the District 1 seat, while four candidates will vie for the District 3 seat being vacated by Dr. Richard Schneider: Michelle Hammond, Jon Primuth, Alan Ehrlich, and Jaz Sawyer.