Attitudes trump issues in council election

Candidates mostly agree on what to do, differing instead over how city business should be done.

March 02, 2011|By Joe Piasecki,

No single silver-bullet issue defines Tuesday’s La Cañada Flintridge City Council election.

When it comes to big questions, such as the proposed extension of the 710 Freeway, moderation in government spending and support for local public education, most candidates offer the same basic positions: freeway = bad, fiscal responsibility = good and let’s help the schools all we can.

Instead, candidates have worked to position themselves in front of the city’s 14,158 registered voters as either voices of experience in public affairs or critics of the current climate at City Hall.


It’s a dynamic that divides candidates into three distinct groups: incumbents Donald Voss and Laura Olhasso, who are running on their records; Planning Commissioner Michael Davitt and businessman Charlie Kamar, who would largely keep the status quo ; and attorney James Hill, registered nurse Jacqueline Harris and retired scientist Robert Richter, who accuse City Hall of failing to communicate with residents or adequately respond to their concerns.

By the time polls close at 8 p.m., voters will have chosen three — guaranteeing at least one new face on the council to replace retiring Councilman Greg Brown.

Among non-incumbents hoping to assume the mantle, Davitt and Kamar have run the most expansive campaigns.

Davitt, a real estate executive and the race’s most successful fundraiser, boasts dozens of endorsements, including all five sitting council members, state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Kamar, a longtime supporter of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation as well as local chamber of commerce and merchant association activities, also comes to the race with a formidable level of community support.

The critics

As Harris sees it, council incumbents don’t get out from behind the dais nearly enough.

“You don’t see City Council, unless it’s a parade or there’s something traumatic going on,” she declared early in her campaign, which has stuck to a mantra of improved council-constituent communication.

In line with her call for more fact-to-face contact, Harris has foregone campaign mailers and other traditional campaign activities to pursue a doorbell-ringing effort that she says has reached more than 2,600 homes.

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