OP-ED | ‘Why This Single Mom POC Housing Advocate Supports the Fighter, the Hero, the Thinker and the Dreamer for City Council’

“You see us as you want to see us….In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each of us is a brain….Sincerely, The Breakfast Club”

FILE PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com News | Jacarandas on Marengo Ave in South Pasadena

By Anne Bagasao

Last week, more than 150 yard signs for District 3 candidates Alan Ehrlich and Michelle Hammond went missing. For someone to round up these signs took a lot of work.

Alan and Michelle could not be nicer people. They have run their campaigns as they live their lives: honestly, passionately and with great care for others. I’ve watched Alan drive one of our unhoused neighbors to a bike shop to get his tire replaced. I’ve seen Michelle tirelessly prepare and deliver meals to the frontline workers at South Pasadena Care Center.  These two people represent the best of South Pasadena values! Who would want to sabotage them in this way?

Disappointed by the pettiness of this election, I sent an email to all five candidates asking them to take the high road and rise above the level of teen pranks. Hammond and Ehrlich both personally replied to my email message. Rossi and Zneimer discussed this with me privately. I had hoped for similar responses from Jon Primuth, Bob Joe and Jack Donovan. Instead, I got a reply from joint campaign representatives on behalf Primuth, Bob Joe and Measure U. Nothing from Jack Donovan. I have yet to hear from Bob Joe or Jon Primuth themselves.

After months of respectfully engaging in what I was led to believe was friendly local politics with people who I hold in high regard, the receipt of this email message became an “Aha!” moment for me. Primuth, Bob Joe, Donovan and Measure U are an unannounced slate!

So here it is, the Letter to the Editor on why Anne Bagasao is putting everything she has behind Alan Ehrlich, Write In Steve Rossi, The Honorable Evelyn Zneimer and, in the final stretch, Michelle Hammond too.

District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer : The Fighter. 

Evelyn is up against a 10-year incumbent who was deposited onto the Council ten years ago by the local king makers and WISPPA.

In a special election in 2019, Measure C was put onto the ballot to replace having an elected City Clerk to one appointed by then City Manager, Stephanie DeWolfe. The rationale was the city could save a whopping $3600 a year. This was a blow to having checks and balances at City Hall and undermined the authority of the people’s elected City Clerk. More South Pasadena residents voted for Evelyn Zneimer for City Clerk than those who voted to remove the position from our City Government. Measure C’s paltry victory was by no means a mandate.

Yet, Evelyn persists! She is running a positive, issue-based campaign focusing on restoring trust and transparency to City Hall  in the aftermath of scandal, fiscal mismanagement and the pillaging of our city staff by Stephanie DeWolfe. Evelyn demonstrates in candidates forums, with her long list of organizational endorsers and her thoughtful responses to the various South Pasadena grassroots questionnaires, that her platform is focused and progressive. She has not been afraid to speak out for renters rights, fiscal accountability, SMART families and police reform. Her opponent has little of any substance to say on anything.

Evelyn represents change and independent thinking. She is a fighter and she will fight all of us.

District 2 – Write In Steve Rossi: The Hero

I heard a story recently that Steven and his wife were out walking the neighborhood and came across a man, clad only in  a robe and slippers, wandering on the Gold Line tracks. A woman, nearby, was trying to call for help. Steven crossed the tracks, spoke to the disoriented man and helped him back to the platform. Steve did this for a stranger. Imagine what he can do for us with four years on the Council!

Compelled by civic duty, Steven Rossi and his wife Sheila, stepped into public life when they published their analysis of the Finance Department’s proposed FY 20/21 budget.  The Rossi Report found a $14 million discrepancy between two versions of budgets originating from the Finance Department. The Rossi Report alongside the Betta Report, by former SP Finance Director, Josh Betta, forced the issue of fiscal transparency onto the Council’s radar.

When Marina Khubesrian resigned, it was assumed that her heir apparent, Jack Donovan, would throw his hat in the ring to request the interim appointment. Donovan had been recruited to run against Khubersian, by many of the same folks who crowned Khubesrian, and he had started his campaign before she announced her resignation. With the clock ticking and Donovan’s name not appearing on the list potential replacements, several residents submitted their applications for consideration.

Hundreds of South Pasadena voters added their names in support of Steven Rossi’s appointment. The Council voted to have Rossi fill the vacant seat and he was sworn in the very night. In the short time that Steve has served, he has done so  energetically and intelligently as the District 2 Councilperson. Rossi is always prepared, focused and determined to represent his constituents and the best interest of all South Pasadenans. Steve has a warm manner and most importantly, a critical eye for detail, something that’s been missing from city discussions.

Rossi is a write in candidate for District 2. This means that to vote for Rossi, voters will need to write his name onto their ballot and ink in the circle next to his name. Although up against a powerful political machine, Rossi runs a progressive grassroots campaign of the people for the people. Get your pens ready!

District 3 – Alan Ehrlich: The Thinker

Alan Ehrlich did not name his campaign after himself. He named it SouthPASsionate. Interesting choice but it truly describes his commitment to South Pasadena.  Alan has a vast array of experience from corporate finance to emergency services, management and he’s an all around great guy. A long time renter, single dad and neighbor, Alan understands first hand the issues that face the majority of South Pasadenans during this pandemic. I’ve been with Alan when he has gone to speak with renters facing evictions. He wasn’t there to campaign, he was there as a neighbor. Alan isn’t necessarily interested in the politics of things, he’s interested in what makes sense and what is right. He may take longer than most to mull things over, but because of his attention to detail not much gets past Alan. We need that in South Pasadena government. We need a true public servant.

As a City Councilperson Alan won’t shy away from the hard questions. At the September Public Safety Commission Meeting to which he’s been appointed, the commission was being strong armed into voting for a new charter that would greatly reduce their role in the City and hand the reins over to fewer members and  predominantly former law enforcement professionals. In his response to Councilwoman Mahmud and City Attorney Highsmith’s assertions that the City could not act on the requests of South Pasadenans Alan said, “The Community is asking for more accountability, not less.” He motioned to reject the former City Manager’s scheme and stated his support for keeping the commission at its current number of seven members instead of reducing it to five.   

Alan, as Public Safety commissioner, continues to be a strong voice for community.  Conversely, Primuth, a favorite in the District 3 race, says he works with residents towards solutions while also adamantly opposing the wishes of 900 stakeholders by rejecting the establishment of a Wellness Day for South Pasadena students and teachers.

Alan is the Thinker. He takes his time and reads between the lines. He knows how to work with staff and the public of all levels and will be accessible to all.

District 3 – Michelle Hammond: The Dreamer

A champion for local environmental policy, a small business owner, entrepreneur, and a mom, Michelle is a force to be reckoned with. She is astoundingly knowledgeable on issues that she is passionate about and voraciously curious about issues that she recognizes are important to others.

Michelle envisions a South Pasadena that is thoughtfully planned to preserve and increase affordable housing, protect our local natural resources and imagines a City in which every member of our community is valued.

She is one of only two women running for Council this election cycle and is endorsed by a wide range of progressive groups such as National Political Women’s Caucus, Knock LA and Bike the Vote LA.

After spending the last seven months worried about the fate of our nation, South Pasadenans facing eviction, our city’s finances and my daughters lack of a Wellness Day,  I am enthusiastic about this unprecedented local election. I’m optimistic that South Pasadena voters are astute and informed and will take their time to choose wisely in these three council races. What I hear from so many South Pasadenans is that most of us want to set our city on a new course: one of inclusivity, diversity, thoughtfulness and compassion.

The world is an imperfect place and the status quo is determined to keep our city within the confines of the ‘perfect” South Pasadena that they created ten years ago when they put Bob Joe, Marina Khubesrian and more recently Diana Mahmud on the dais.

Let’s replace “more of the same” with The Fighter, the Hero, the Thinker or the Dreamer and foster innovative approaches to facing an imperfect world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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