This is the third installment of our Patch City Council Candidates Forum. The five candidates for office in the April 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. Jason Cosylion's responses and Mary Ann Lutz's .
1. Please tell us about yourself and why you should be elected or reelected to represent the people of Monrovia.
I think my tenure on the council gives me the experience to deal with the upcoming issues, particularly the state issues, well. I have seen the council go through some pretty tough times in the early 1990s when we had to cut some programs severely. I have also seen the good times and the growth in programming that needs to be trimmed. Experience that can help us through these times is priceless. My business experience adds to that strength.
2. How will the Gold Line benefit the city, and what should be done to best take advantage of it when it finally arrives?
The Gold Line is the future. It may not be the number one source of transportation for my generation but it will for the next and we need to rethink how we move people. Four dollar gas will change our lives, we must be ready for that. But this needs to not just be a train station. There must be something else. Bringing in light business and residences will round out the area.
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)
If I had my magic wand and needed to make some serious cuts I would look to our past. Local government has changed so much over the years supplying people with, in some cases, almost every conceivable service there is. If you go back when most of our area was first occupied the citizens had fewer requests and they started with public safety. Without public safety nothing else really matters. So, we insure that our police and fire protection are adequate and once they are move out to our water and sewer systems. Public safety and clean water are paramount. Once we have the necessities in place then we look for the other services such as parks, library and other community services. As for definite cuts, I think if we do the right thing we can maintain all of our current services with perhaps some of them trimmed back to meet the demand of the times.
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 that a park below Huntington Drive is important. When I grew up there was a vacant lot in each block. Kids need room to play and if they don't get that room they will find room in the street and what they end up doing may not be in anyone's best interest. As for naming a park after a Latino, I was proud to have moved that the council do just that. Latinos have played an important role in Monrovia for its 125 years that we will celebrate soon yet there is no acknowledgement of their contributions. I think Monrovia has done well to insure that all members of the community have a vested right in the community, this just takes it up a notch.
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 think we all know that the benefit package that is currently offered, not just in Monrovia but statewide, is no longer a viable solution. We must look at an alternative for the future and still maintain the promise that we made to our employees. All employers need to be competitive or you can't hire the best. There are some other solutions that will maintain the rights of the employees and still keep the city in a sound economic position. The difference between safety and non safety positions has always been rooted in the fact that people who are out in the streets working night shifts, getting into fights with criminals, fighting fires and working traffic accidents tend to have their bodies age differently than someone sitting at a desk. The differences need to be monitored in the future to insure that we stay on course.
6. How will the proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies affect Monrovia in the short term and long term?
Redevelopment has brought Monrovia from a city that many would not visit to one that others want to copy. Most of the residents that have moved here in the past 15 or so years may not have moved here 30 years ago, it has changed that much. Redevelopment has been a great tool here yet abused in other areas but I don't think the state will take away that which improves lives and creates jobs. If the state takes redevelopment away I think that Monrovia will continue to do what it does better than any city I know of, attract good companies to move to Monrovia by doing things smarter and more cost effective. Employers more here for a variety of reasons and Monrovia understands that more than most. Whatever the future holds, Monrovia will shine.
7. How are you going to fight voter apathy in Monrovia? Why is voter turnout usually so low? (Submitted by reader Ralph Walker)
Voter apathy is and interesting subject. I have looked at the past 35 years and the greatest turnout in numbers and percentages in a Monrovia Municipal Election was April of 1994. There were some 8 candidates for council at that time and the contest was spirited. I haven't seen an election since then that brought out the number of candidates nor the campaigning seen then. You might say that happy people vote less than angry people. Taking a look around the world the turnout is highest in countries where people are dying to vote. As for me, I am mailing thousands of mailers out asking people to remember to vote along with hundreds of yard signs. Once you have hundreds of yard signs, thousands of mailers, 3 or 4 candidate forums, interviews and write ups in the news I think you have done all you can. The rest is up to the will of the people.
8. What is your governing philosophy, and who are your political mentors/heroes? (Submitted by reader Charlotte Schamadan)
My governing policy is based on California General Law. Our positions are meant to be part time. The council is supposed to hire a good manager who then hires good people. We act, if you will, as the board of directors for your investment. Each of you are the stockholders. Teddy Roosevelt said, "Be smart enough to hire good people and have sense enough to get out of their way" and I think this is a good way to conduct ourselves on the council.
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 spirit of cooperation is a good tool in Monrovia and has been here for years. I do find it interesting how many people think we never vote different when that couldn't be further from the truth. Statistically we vote together a lot, voting to pay payroll, trim trees, pave streets and keep the water flowing, all things that few would be against. There are five people on the council with five different sets of eyes and five view points. From time to time those differences rise up and the community gets to see the other side of the council. Both are good and have served Monrovia well for some time.
10. What can you do to make Monrovia a better place? (Submitted by reader Debbie Elliott)
Making Monrovia a better place is a very broad question but I think raising the level of service. When the day is done that is all we have, service. That is why it is called public service. From time to time that level drops due to a variety of issues but diligence will keep it high, a level we can all be proud of.