After being termed out of his last stint as city council member and taking off the required two years, Gary Kovacic is running for Arcadia city council this year.
“I was glad to take the break, but I didn’t know right away I’d be running again,” said Kovacic. “I enjoyed my time on the city council and assumed if the right opportunity came up I’d take advantage of it and it seemed like the right opportunity. I think the city is facing some significant issues and that an experienced city council person would be in the best position to help us all.”
Kovacic, a land use attorney since 1976, has a history with Arcadia as a lifelong resident and member of various community organizations, but his work on the city council began during his five years as chair of the Arcadia planning commission when in 1996 Dennis Lojeski died suddenly and Kovacic was appointed for Lojeski’s remaining two years and then elected to two four-year terms.
The main issue Kovacic wants to address if elected is Arcadia’s fiscal policy, which relates to some of his other priorities.
“Ever since I’ve been on the city council Arcadia has been very well run and it’s been fiscally conservative,” said Kovacic. “It’s important to maintain the quality of our infrastructure and the quality of programs for our youth and seniors, and this all has to be done within the context of the state budget crisis and our budget constraints as a city.”
When Kovacic joined the city council he said there was a $1.9 million deficit and as mayor in 1998 Kovacic signed Arcadia’s first balanced budget without spending reserve funds in seven years and the budget was balanced every year Kovacic was on city council.
Regarding the recently resolved Arcadia police protests and the increase in local violence, Kovacic said, “Our police department is excellent but there are positions that still need to be filled and we have to go about filling those as quickly as possible and making sure we’re creating an environment that is attractive for officers to stay and grow within our system.”
Each April the city council appoints a mayor and mayor pro-tem, which have no term limits, and Kovacic is not opposed to the job in the future.
“I enjoyed very much the four times I was mayor but I also enjoyed my tenure in the city council so just being in the city council is work enough and if I’m lucky enough to be appointed mayor again I’d gladly take the job, but I’m not running for mayor,” said Kovacic.
Kovacic’s campaign includes contacting as many supporters from the past as he can, gathering ideas and information from people, sending out mailers, attending public forums and trying to connect with all Arcadians “no matter where they live and who they are,” said Kovacic.
Mailers and yard signs can be the most expensive part of Kovacic’s campaign, which is funded by contributions from supporters. In the past, Kovacic has raised about $10,000-$18,000, he estimated, though he has a policy of not accepting more than $99 per person for his campaign.
As for fellow competitor, the elusive George Young, Kovacic has never met him and knows little other than where he lives and that he practices law in San Marino.
Kovacic’s own background in law, specifically land use and eminent domain, has helped him gain perspective as an elected official.
“There can’t be a more traumatic event than to lose your home or business so I am very well-aware of the power of the government and that is has to be used sparingly and fairly,” said Kovacic.