It appears that Mayor Mike Ten’s stance on the Long Beach (710) Freeway has cost him his job.
Ten finished sixth in the South Pasadena City Council race Tuesday, as Councilman Richard Schneider and newcomers Marina Khubesrian and Bob Joe won the available seats in the nine-candidate race. South Pasadena voters also approved a revamped utility tax that leaders say is key to keeping the city on solid financial footing.
In a community that has long opposed a planned extension of the 710 from its terminus in Alhambra to the Foothill (210) Freeway in Pasadena, Ten called for a more open dialogue that contemplated an eventual 4.5-mile freeway tunnel under the city. Other candidates for council oppose the tunnel and want state transportation officials — now launching a four-year environmental review of alternatives for the 710 gap — to abandon plans for a highway.
“My stance on the 710 has always been an issue with those who were running for city council,” said Ten, who believes concern about the freeway has cast a shadow over topics such as improving surface streets and circulation. “I speak for a silent majority of citizens that are tired of the 710 dominating everything the council does.”
Ten earned just under 10% of the vote. Khubesrian, a doctor and first-time candidate who will be the only woman on the council, led all candidates with 18% of the vote. She received just three votes more than Schneider, also a doctor. Joe, who has served on several city commissions and formerly worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Metropolitan Water District, received 15% of the vote.
“The outcome of this election will lead to a different culture on the council, where open decision-making will be made,” Khubesrian said. “A lot of women who felt their voices haven't been represented on the council are feeling empowered, and that makes me very happy.”
Schneider said, “I think (Ten) wants what's best for the city, he has a good heart and is a sociable person. He just has a difference of opinion.”
“I'd love to finish off the 710, and now with (the utility tax) passing, I want to make sure as much money as possible goes to infrastructure,” Schneider added.
The utility tax, Measure UT, combines and extends two existing utility taxes paid by property owners. The 7.5% tax will last for 10 years. It won support of 54% of voters.
Voters also backed two incumbents seeking reelection to the South Pasadena Unified School District board. Joseph Loo and Richard Sonner won reelection with 38% and 36% of the votes, respectively. Benjamin Figueroa, a Los Angeles City College administrator, finished third in the race for two seats with 26% of the vote.
Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version.