Five aspiring city leaders and two incumbents have filed papers to run for three Pasadena City Council seats up for grabs on March 5.
The Northwest Pasadena seat left vacant by Chris Holden's November election to the state Assembly has attracted four hopefuls: community activist Ishmael Trone, Los Angeles Urban League executive John J. Kennedy, Summit Evangelical Church Pastor Nicholas Benson and former volunteer city commissioner Aida Morales.
Holden held the District 3 seat for 24 years.
Councilman Victor Gordo, seeking a third term in District 5, will face nonprofit director and Pasadena Marathon organizer Israel Estrada.
Councilman Terry Tornek is unopposed in his bid for a second term in District 7.
Tornek, Gordo, Benson, Kennedy and Trone have qualified for the ballot, a process that requires signatures from at least 25 registered voters. Papers for Estrada and Morales, filed Friday afternoon, are pending review on Monday, said City Clerk Mark Jomsky.
If no District 3 candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in March, the top two finishers will advance to an April 16 runoff.
Winning candidates take office on May 6, but Holden's former seat will not remain open that long. The city charter requires the council to appoint an interim replacement no later than 75 days after Holden's Nov. 30 resignation, said Jomsky.
The council voted Monday to seek applications through Dec. 27, conduct interviews in January and choose a temporary council member during a public meeting by Feb. 13. Council members said they would not appoint anyone appearing on the March ballot.
Candidates seeking support from District 3 voters have long-established roots in the area.
Morales, 66, previously led a Bilingual Advisory Council for Pasadena public schools and served on the city's Northwest Commission and Commission on the Status of Women. A mother of five and 40-year Pasadena resident, Morales said she hopes to find more resources to fund infrastructure repairs, affordable housing and youth programs.
Benson, 58, is vice chair of the Northwest Commission, president of the Ministerial Assn. of Pasadena and previously served on the Community Health Alliance of Pasadena board. The 30-year resident said he is focused on quality-of-life issues.
Kennedy, 51, was president of the Pasadena NAACP from 1987 to 1990, worked for various city departments and served as a deputy police chief in Richmond, Va., under former Pasadena Police Chief Jerry Oliver. A graduate of Blair High School, Kennedy said he planned to run for council 24 years ago but stepped aside to support Holden. Kennedy said he hopes to increase job opportunities and training for at-risk youth and work to alleviate tension between police and residents.
Kennedy faced a charge of assault with a firearm in 1993 after taking a gun from a man and shooting him during an argument. The charge was dismissed seven months later, said L.A. County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
“It was an accident. I've moved forward with my life,” said Kennedy. “With my diverse background in the government, nonprofit and for-profit sectors, I believe I can provide sound public policy for the district and the city at large.”
Trone, 52, also grew up in Pasadena and heads a family tax and real estate business on Orange Grove Boulevard. He served on the city's Community Development and Fair Oaks Project Area committees, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce board and currently chairs the Rose Bowl Local Hiring Advisory Committee.
Trone said he would focus on economic development, parks and public safety in the district. He is also pushing officials preparing to negotiate with the NFL for temporary use of the Rose Bowl to secure executive-level internships for local youth.
District 5 hopeful Estrada, 36 and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said he is running to make City Hall a more user-friendly place for residents and business owners. A Pasadena native and Blair High School graduate, Estrada also ran for City Council in 2003.
Gordo, who grew up in the area, said he has worked to improve parks and revitalize neighborhoods.
“Every corner of the district has seen some improvement, but much remains to be done,” said Gordo.
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