6 file for 2 seats on Temple City City Council
By Alfred Lee, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/14/2008 10:48:45 PM PST
TEMPLE CITY – The balance of power in City Hall is at stake in the upcoming race for two City Council seats.
Four candidates will challenge incumbents Cathe Wilson and Ken Gillanders in their bids for re-election.
Tom Chavez, Silenus Ong, Chuck Souder and Vince Yu will join Wilson and Gillanders on the ballot in March, City Clerk Mary Flandrick said.
The race could very well be seen as a referendum on the performance of the current City Council, where Wilson, Gillanders and Councilman David Capra have formed a majority voting bloc over the past two years.
The trio have often controlled policy, over the opposition of council members Judy Wong and Fernando Vizcarra.
Both Wilson and Gillanders enjoy long-standing support in the community – Wilson was elected with more votes than any of the sitting council members – but the struggles of the City Council to bring redevelopment to the city could be a thorny issue.
In recent months, officials imposed and then cancelled a controversial ban on non-retail businesses; flirted with and then pulled out of a plan to buy a string of commercial properties on Las Tunas; and, most notably, saw further delays in the Piazza mall project.
Both Yu and Souder hope to capitalize on residents’ frustration.
Yu, a Temple City Planning Commissioner, is running on his experience with development as a former architect in the private sector and current head of an architectural unit in the county Department of Public Works. He has close ties to Wong and is also backed by Vizcarra.
“Like most Temple City residents, I’m a bit frustrated to see the lack of progress,” he said. “The things that we really wanted to do in the Planning Commission, when they got to the council, not a whole lot was done.”
Yu voted against the Piazza project while on the Planning Commission.
“I can look at plans and I can listen to the developer and the architect’s presentation, and I can tell based on my own experience how well they prepared and whether or not what they said can actually be done,” he said.
Souder, a two-time mayor and member of the City Council from 1994-2003, is running as the most vocal opponent of Wilson and Gillanders.
“I’m running to see if I can’t straighten out the City Council,” Souder said. “It’d be more business-friendly and put some transparency and integrity back into the City Council.”
He said the lack of transparency in City Hall was “absolutely disgusting,” and he also criticized the performance of current city manager-city attorney Charles Martin.
Wilson, Gillanders and Ong could not be reached last week.
Chavez, a Parks and Recreation Commissioner for Temple City who works as an attorney and adjunct professor in Pasadena, also stressed the need for redevelopment in the city.
“We need to seek additional sources of revenue for the city, but at the same time I’m in favor of keeping a small-town atmosphere,” he said.
Chavez said he is supported by Wilson but is not interested in lining up along the divisions on the council. Yu and Souder also said that they would vote independently.
“We do have a City Council that doesn’t seem to get along,” Chavez said. “It could be a problem and I think we need to try to clear that up and get us back on track.”
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