Five candidates are running April 8th, but Sierra Madreans can only vote for two candidates, who will each serve a four-year term.
Current mayor and a city council member for the past four years, Joffe said she is running again “because it has been a very challenging and satisfying job and I really started a lot of good things and there are a lot of things I’d like to see continue.”
For the past 15 years Joffe has served on groups like the General Plan Committee and Planning Commission while running her solar energy and alternative fuel business.
Preserving the small town of Sierra Madre is Joffe’s main priority, and environmental protection, fiscal responsibility and responsible development are also on the list.
In the 90s, Joffe helped update the general plan and said that now the environment must be considered as part of that.
“At that time (the 90s), no one had heard of global warming or carbon footprint,” said Joffe. “We are very fortunate to have our own water supply but we will not have that if we don’t manage it.”
The decision to develop One Carter was one that Joffe made reluctantly.
“None of us wanted that development,” said Joffe. “I still don’t want that development. The law about protecting property rights did not allow us to turn that down so we sought the best compromise that we could.”
While the budget has been balanced during Joffe’s term, Sierra Madre’s financial audits were incomplete and state reports were filed late. When the City Council learned of this, Joffe voted for decisive action to correct the problems in the city’s finance department, according to Joffe’s re-election literature.
“All reports are now being properly filed and the overdue audits are nearly complete,” said Joffe.
In her four years on city council, Sierra Madre’s expenses that are beyond council control have increased more than the city’s revenue.
“In order to do the things we want to do like give our police officers a raise and continue our paramedic program we’re proposing a new revenue source: the utility user tax,” said Joffe, who supports Measure U.
When asked at last Tuesday’s candidate’s forum why Measure U was needed as opposed to more fat being cut from the budget, Joffe said “the ad hoc committee looked long and hard at our budget, they came back and said we expected find fat, waste and areas that could easily be cut and we didn’t find them.”
Measure V, which sets size limits on downtown businesses, was divisive but Joffe wants to expand it to include appearance in order to preserve downtown’s character.
“I’m very concerned that we could get a Measure V-compliant project in this community that is still going to be an ugly white or beige box,” said Joffe.
MacGillivray served two terms on the City Council in the 1990s and was mayor in 1994-1995.
Outside of City Council she established two bio-medical corporations and currently manages the Chemistry Lab at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia.
“The things that prompted me to run again are the very things that prompted me 18 years ago,” said MacGillivray, who also supports Measure U. “Those have to do with protecting our hillside, developing responsible fiscal policy and maintaining our economy while at the same time providing essential services like police, paramedics, library, and all the recreation services we want here in this community.”
Some of her hillside endeavors have been serving as council liaison to the first Hillside Management Task Force, which resulted in an ordinance to help manage development without damaging the hillsides and serving in 2007 on another Hillside Management Task Force to help ensure the ordinance would still protect Sierra Madre.
“The general plan is a living breathing document that should be reviewed on a regular basis,” said MacGillivray. “The intent was to have it reviewed at least every five years, so it’s certainly time to look at it again. We should incorporate the aspect of the hillside ordinance and a downtown specific plan into the general plan so we have one non-competing plan that is a roadmap for the city.”
In 1997 MacGillivray received attention for trying to redefine the term “family” for Sierra Madre. An LA Times article written in September 1997 said, “In a split vote, the Sierra Madre City Council approved changing the wording of a city zoning code to define a family as those related by ‘blood, marriage or adoption.'” Those living together in all other relationships were to be referred to as “housekeeping units”, said the article. The new definition was later overturned.
“We don’t have a definition in the code because we follow what the state suggests we do,” said MacGillivray at the Kiwanis forum last Tuesday. “There’s a lot of misinformation and I think it’s important to put the facts around it. The council intended to supplement the language in the passage of ordinance 1136 to comply with government code section 12955L which has to do with discrimination.”
MacGillivray said the best way to explain the actions of the council at that time was to quote former council member Bart Doyle.
“In every ordinance challenge, the definition of family was people related by blood, marriage or adoption,” said MacGillivray, quoting Doyle. “The family meaning of blood, marriage or adoption continues to have common sense meaning in our society and major significance. It is not our place to revise the dictionary or change thousands of years of legal practice. The final analysis is we are trying to ban housing discrimination in any form and that tolerance is the official policy of Sierra Madre and Sierra Madre will not use building code or ordinance to exclude anyone wishing to make a home here. We are adopting a broad based anti-discrimination clause.”
“We are now following the state with an absolutely nebulous definition,” said MacGillivray in her own words.
As for bringing revenue to the city, MacGillivray wants to attract large companies that would be “nothing more than people sitting at computers” to have their corporate headquarters in Sierra Madre, which would receive taxes from the businesses.
“Eagle” Bill Tice:
A man of few words but also of determination since he has run for City Council many times without ever being elected, Tice is a retired gardener and longtime resident of Sierra Madre who recently served as an advisor on a tree commission for the city.
“I’m interested in maintaining a Sierra Madre much like it was in 1946 when I first moved here,” said Tice.
When asked at last week’s Kiwanis forum how the city could improve the general plan and hillside ordinance to preserve Sierra Madre’s small town atmosphere Tice said, “We could not let John (Buchanan) negotiate it away. They are going to court. If you look at the hillside they have chopped it off up there and made a mess out of One Carter.”
Tice also accused the current city council of not doing anything.
“I am not sure exactly why, but maybe everybody looked at everybody else and didn’t do anything.”
Later Tice said that “salaries are too high and people have to pay bills and home prices go up.”
As for repairing street signs and potholes on some Sierra Madre streets, Tice said the city has to get paving programs going again and that maybe streets could get together and pay for their street.
Faith is something Tice frequently mentions as a way to improve the city.
“I think there are problems in this city,” said Tice, who then quoted the Bible. “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. We need to go back to the cross…ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins.”
Tice also stressed the need for prayer in city council meetings, though it does not have to be a recorded prayer.
“I think the sense of community and involvement regards that,” said Tice who also voiced his support for one particular fellow candidate.
“I’m very impressed with MaryAnn,” said Tice. “I think she’s a fine elected official and I encourage her to run. I think she’s the best mayor we’ve ever had.”
A supporter of Measure U, Tice believes there maybe should be another tax initiative on the ballot since all the people he knew in City Hall seem to have left lately for other cities.
Currently Buchanan, an attorney, serves on the Sierra Madre City Council and he served as mayor from 2006 to 2007. The Ad Hoc Level of Service and Finance Committee for fire and paramedic service, the Hillside Management Zone Committee, the 2007 Ad Hoc Finance Committee and the Sierra Madre Library Board of Trustees are just a few of the groups Buchanan has participated in over the past seven years.
“My service over the last four years has made me care even more about this town,” said Buchanan. “I will continue to work hard for all of Sierra Madre.”
Buchanan, another proponent of Measure U, is proud of establishing the paramedic program and increased funding for fire fighter training and he said he will continue to work for a safe Sierra Madre that will preserve that service.
Environmental issues were something Buchanan addressed at various points during the Kiwanis forum.
“The environmental impact component of our general plan should be a vital part of it because we’re going to need regulations from the state which are going to tell us what we’re going to need to do to reduce greenhouse gases and the carbon footprint,” said Buchanan.
Bringing lasting businesses to downtown can also be done in a green way, according to Buchanan.
“We have done a lot of work sticking yellow post-its on boards saying what we want but…we have to have the economic evaluation of what our town can and cannot compete for,” said Buchanan. “We have done some of that and we have a lot of data so it won’t be as big a deal as it might seem. We can take our green policies that I want put into our strategic plan and all sorts of other planning documents and create an image of our town as a green town which is perfectly consistent with our town values and then take that green image and use it to hopefully attract green businesses which might be akin to the type of things Maryann is talking about…green technology, sale of green products.
Most of the project area of One Carter is not hillside, said Buchanan.
“What we did with that project is the best we could, given the zoning and property of the time,” said Buchanan. “Our opportunities to protect it were somewhat limited. Since then we’ve expanded hillside zoning to all the One Carter property and put greater restrictions on the houses that actually go there.”
Cutting spending is a solution that needs to come from the citizens as much as it comes from the council, believes Buchanan.
“We have already cut employee expenses as much as we can but PERS contributions for public safety officials, for example, were 49 percent in 2003, they are 38 percent in 2007 and that can’t be controlled.”
Previously Paschall, a third generation Sierra Madrean, owned a printing business for 30 years and he now co-owns an auto brokerage.
“I am running for city council because I feel I have to,” said Paschall in a March 4th forum.
“Two years ago three candidates, Mosca, Watts and Zimmerman, ran for office on a pro-preservationist slate [and] all three won. Their main platform was to let citizens vote on a downtown specific plan. Immediately upon election one of the candidates changed his tune and broke his campaign promise. Sadly, the result now is a town divided by bitterness and rancor.”
In a note read by his campaign manager Patricia Berger at last week’s forum that Paschall was unable to attend due to his work schedule, Paschall said he stands for “no more reckless spending of tax dollars, protecting police, fire and paramedics and restoring confidence in our city government.”
Wasteful spending on consultants needs to be eliminated, said Paschall, who is interested in settling some of the litigation against the city.
“I am in support of Measure U, but feel that after we get a handle on the city’s wasteful spending we can hold it at just a two percent increase for the duration of the measure,” said Paschall.
Paschall has volunteered for organizations in other cities as well as Sierra Madre Friends of the Pool, Little League, Cub Scouts, Sierra Madre Elementary School, Pioneer Days and the Measure V campaign.
“I think the citizens should have a say in how they want their town,” said Paschall. “This shouldn’t be decided by a few people who may or may not be beholden to special interests…Two incumbents running for re-election appeared on many of the No on V flyers paid for by these wealthy and outside interests.”
Paschall would make few, if any, changes to the general plan but said the Hillside Ordinance requires more work.
“For starters I would increase the minimum lot size from two acres to five,” said Paschall.
New condos will not raise money for public safety, said Paschall, because those property taxes go into the California Redevelopment Agency and can only be used for more development. Condos can also bring higher rents that only chain stores can afford, said Paschall.
Redevelopment is needed, however, believes Paschall.
“I believe the people of Sierra Madre want sensible redevelopment without intense gridlock on our streets and exorbitant infrastructure costs to us taxpayers,” said Paschall. “We want to keep our home values high. That is why we live here and that is what attracts new residents to our town.”