Diana Mahmud, the second most senior member of the South Pasadena City Council who has twice served as Mayor, announced this week she will not seek a third term this November.
The announcement came three weeks after Planning Commission member Janet Braun announced her intent to file for the 5th District seat held by Mahmud, and over two months before the start of the filing period, which commences July 18. “It’s only fair to other potential candidates that I announce now.” Mahmud said she actually made the decision last year and is quick to note she still has 8 months to serve.
Two of South Pasadena’s five council seats will be up for grabs this November—Mahmud’s southeastern 5th district and Mayor Michael Cacciotti’s northeastern 4th district seat. South Pasadena’s newly redrawn district map (NDC #105a) was formally adopted April 6 by the Council at its regular meeting this week.
First elected in 2013, Mahmud gave mostly personal reasons for her decision: the increasing needs of her legally blind 90-year-old mother, and to be more available to help her husband, Richard Helgeson, with their disabled son. “My husband has been very supportive of me, but has made clear he wants his partner back on a full time basis.”
Mahmud, 68, arrived in South Pasadena in 1988 and she and Helgeson have raised four children here. She retired from the Metropolitan Water District, where she worked as an attorney.
Mahmud told the South Pasadenan her proudest achievement as a council member was getting the city involved with the Clean Power Alliance, the community choice aggregator which she helped create and which is now the largest CCA in the state, with over one million former Southern California Edison customers. “I’m very proud of the fact my council members supported putting our residential and commercial customers” on the default 100 percent renewable power level “because it is the easiest and most direct” way for citizens to take responsibility for mitigating greenhouse gases.
Mahmud has served for four years as the CPA board chair and hopes to remain the city’s alternate on the board when her term as chair ends next July. CPA board members are all elected council members from its 30-plus municipal members, and its bylaws allow immediate past chairs to serve on the CPA executive committee.
Mahmud is also proud of her work on water—playing various roles on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government’s water committee and being involved in the Measure W Safe Clean Water Program which is helping to provide cities with funds to address so-called MS4 permit costs–water treatment obligations that create hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities—including at least ten million dollars for South Pasadena alone.
The establishment of a $1,000 contribution limit for city council elections was another cause she adopted. According to Mahmud, during one council race a candidate received a $10,000 contribution that overwhelmed other candidates.
During her second term as mayor last year, Mahmud was also instrumental in leading the legislative and municipal effort to broaden the city’s authority to hasten a final disposition for the dozens of Caltrans properties left over from the SR 710 extension battle
Mahmud said she’s worked very hard on the Council, but that it’s time to pursue other interests.”