This is the first installment of our Patch City Council Candidates Forum. The five candidates for office in Apr. 12 municipal elections responded to questions submitted by readers and the Patch editor. A different candidate's answers will be posted each day this week.
1. Please tell us about yourself and why you should be elected or reelected to represent the people of Monrovia.
My name is Jason Cosylion. I have lived in the City of Monrovia with my family since June of 2006. I am married to my wife Amy and we have two young boys, whose ages are three and one. I have attended Rio Hondo College and Devry University. I obtained my degree in Technical Management. I enjoy going to the Farmer’s Market, attending the music in the park event, and hiking with my family and friends in Canyon Park.
I am honest and sincere. I like to listen to new ideas that would benefit the community as a whole. I believe having integrity is essential for any council member. I also like to think outside the box. I am running for city council for many reasons. I would like to expand the current recreation programs to young families and the elderly, to assist the local business, attract new business to our city, to reduce the amount of money the city spends on civil litigation, create a true “open door” policy, and save our redevelopment agency. Please remember to get out and vote on April 12.
2. How will the Gold Line benefit the city, and what should be done to best take advantage of it when it finally arrives?
I believe the Gold Line could benefit the city. So how does the city take advantage of this situation. First, the city needs to stop spending money on a new logo. Logos do not attract people. The city needs to spend money on true advertising, such as billboards, newspapers, websites, etc. The city needs to advertise some of the great things this city offers such as our Farmer's Market, music in the park, a great library, Canyon Park, our wonderful places to eat, etc. The city then needs to find a way to make it easy for people to get from the Gold Line to our downtown area or any other destination within our great city.
3. If you had sole authority and responsibility to create a very lean budget for Monrovia, briefly tell us what items you would definitely keep, and what you would definitely cut. (Submitted by reader Charlotte Schamadan)
This is a very tough question. I believe the city already has a very lean budget. However, if it does need to be leaner, here is what I would cut. I would cut the car allowances given to upper management and would not allow city vehicles to be taken home, which would include police and fire. I would also not spend money on unnecessary items such as a new city logo and purchasing new vehicles (unless it is for a police car or a fire truck). Even though the items I listed to be cut are a small percentage of the budget, we must remember every dollar counts. A city could only cut so much from the budget. If a city cuts to much from the budget, it will have a negative impact on the community.
4. What's your take on building a park on the south side or the idea of naming it after a local Latino? (Submitted by reader Ralph Walker)
I believe parks are very important to any community. Parks are a place that allow families, friends, and neighbors to gather together. It is even a place that allows people to make new friends. I believe the city should find a way to build a park on the south side of the city. If I am elected, building a park on the south side of the city will be a priority for me. I will ask the city staff and the other council members to find ways to fund this project. However, you must remember, it will be very difficult to find the resources to pay for a new park because of the current economic times.
5. What is your position on a tiered system of retirement benefits for city employees? How do you propose bringing the benefits in line with what the city can afford while maintaining competitive standards among "like" cities? Do you believe that Police/Fire should have a different retirement benefit than other City employees? (Submitted by reader Nancy Matthews)
I am not a great fan of a tiered system. However, If it benefits the employees, the city, and most importantly the community then I am all for it. I know of a few cities with a tiered system and they do not seem to have any problems. A tiered system is one of those things that employees must accept.
As far as the second part of this question, I believe the current benefits that city employees receive are in line with other cities, especially upper management. My next statement might seem somewhat harsh, but it is the truth. City employees should be thankful that they are employed. There are many people who currently unemployed and are trying to survive. During this tough economic time, I do not believe in expanding the benefits for any city employee.
The third part of this question is a very difficult question to answer. I do believe that police officers and firefighters should have a different retirement benefit than other city employees. The reason why is because a police officer and a firefighter risk there lives on a daily basis. However, I do believe that the City should push the retirement age to 55 instead of 50. Another way to maintain competitive standards is to maintain a friendly “office” environment. When a city has a high influx of employees leaving, it is generally due to an unfriendly “office” environment.
6. How will the proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies affect Monrovia in the short term and long term?
I believe the elimination of the redevelopment agencies would have a negative impact on Monrovia in the short term especially during these economic times and possibly in the long term. By eliminating redevelopment agencies, a side effect is created. The side effect would be the loss of jobs which during these times nobody wants. It could also mean the loss of building housing for low income families.
7. How are you going to fight voter apathy in Monrovia? Why is voter turnout usually so low? (Submitted by reader Ralph Walker)
The best way to fight voter apathy in Monrovia is to change the date of our city's election. We should change the date to November (General Election date) or June (Primary Election date). It would make it easier for the residents of Monrovia to vote and possibly save the city money.
8. What is your governing philosophy, and who are your political mentors/heroes? (Submitted by reader Charlotte Schamadan)
9. The City Council has long been characterized by a spirit of cooperation. What about Monrovia has made the council so tightly knit, and should such a political atmosphere continue?
The reason why a spirit of cooperation has characterized the City Council is that the majority of the council members have been serving for a while. Having cooperation among council members is good thing for the community. However, it could also be a bad thing. It could create apathy among the council members. I believe change is needed. This does not mean that the “spirit of cooperation” goes out the window. Cooperation among council members should be the norm.
10. What can you do to make Monrovia a better place? (Submitted by reader Debbie Elliott)
I have a lot of ideas to make Monrovia a better place. Unfortunately, we are in a difficult economic time. One of the things I would like to do is expand our recreation department. Expanding the city’s recreation department would create jobs especially for our youth. Another idea is to increase the number of outdoor events for the community to attend. The city could also improve the shopping experience for the community by attracting a name brand clothing store to our downtown area.