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Jacqueline Harris

Jacqueline Harris says she's going door-to-door to get local politics back in touch with the people.

February 11, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Jacqueline Harris would like to have a word with you.

Since announcing her bid for City Council last year, the longtime volunteer Girl Scouts leader, mother of three and 19-year La Cañada Flintridge resident has worked to build a grassroots campaign one conversation at a time.

Foregoing the usual campaign signs, mailers, ballot statements and fundraising efforts, Harris said she has instead spent her time going door-to-door to more than 2,000 homes.

Her effort is one to bring politics back to the people, she explained, believing current council members and city government as a whole have become disconnected from residents.

“I think they need a better feel of the pulse of the community,” said Harris, 48, who in her professional life is a registered nurse specializing in organ transplants. “I haven’t seen anyone at my door since Tony Portantino was running.”

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Though she plays up her people skills, Harris, whose husband works as a geologist, is clearly also a multi-tasker.

Harris has a son and daughter attending La Cañada High School’s 7/8 campus and her oldest graduated from LCHS in 2005, but somehow she’s also found time over the years to take to the skies as a recreational pilot.

Valley Sun: Briefly explain why you want to be on the council and your top priority if elected.

Jacqueline Harris: My top priority would be communication. Some of what the City Council is doing is good, but it can be built upon tremendously. The council needs to be more in touch with the residents it serves. I can be out and talk to people instead of sending out mailings and making the occasional phone call.

What would you describe as the city’s most important accomplishment over the past several years?

I’d have to give more kudos to the Sheriff’s Department and the Fire Department with the mudflows. You don’t see City Council unless it’s a parade or there’s something traumatic going on.

What would you identify as a missed opportunity?

Better communication with the county and the state. I think they missed the boat in calling in resources from the state level sooner [to fight the Station fire].

Which personal qualities that you possess are most relevant to being a council member?

Being a people person. I don’t necessarily agree with everybody, but I listen. I empathize with their side of whatever it is, and hopefully I can paint both sides of the picture for them.

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