Notes on the Glendora candidates forum

Last night was the Glendora council candidates forum where the seven contenders sparred (not really, more like, politely conveyed their views) over various city issues.

First and foremost, I must say that Ken Herman was a gracious moderator. Despite the questionable choice to choose a once candidate, incumbent Mayor to be the moderator that adds the opportunity for someone to cry foul over the forum’s fairness, it wasn’t an issue.

Herman read the questions, kept everyone within their allotted time, and commended the candidates as a group. He never singled out a candidate, interjected or gave his opinion.

Now for the highlights.

- In a forum where many of the candidates talked about leadership styles, the need to communicate better with residents and listen, incumbent councilman Doug Tessitor showed his experience.

For my two-cents, he had the money quote of the night – right or wrong. “Any decision you make has two sides. No matter what decision you make, it makes someone mad and someone happy. The person who is happy thinks you listened. The person who is mad thinks you didn’t listen.”

- Jason Nagy pulled a John Boehner, choking up during one bit.

OK, I feel genuinely bad for that joke. Nagy was clearly passionate last night and often spoke about his run being from his heart. No ill will intended.

- Cynthia Carrasco told me she is training for a bicycle marathon. So don’t be surprised if you see some bicyclists with some “Vote for Cynthia” jerseys.

- John Fields, while responding to a question about lawsuits from residents, said he felt some lawsuits were based on personal vendettas. He went onto say that some public records requests are also based on vendettas and he wondered if there was a way to filter such requests.

Short answer: No. Public records are just that. Public. Anyone person has a right to view them, vendetta or not.

- On the flip side, Fields promised to bring some flair and excitement to the council in the form of entertainment. This is actually a pretty good idea. Get people wondering what you might do if elected and maybe you get the curiosity vote. I can dig it.

- When asked the fully loaded question of what new state taxes the council candidates would support, the candidates had this shocking reply: None.

Who would have guessed? I am glad we got that question out of the way because otherwise who knows what could have happened.

- As a footnote, two candidates – Fields and Erica Landmann-Johnsey – graduated from Cal Poly Pomona representing the green and gold. Go Broncos! (If you haven’t figured it out, I am an alum)

- Landmann-Johnsey defended herself well with the forum’s most personal question regarding lawsuits against the city. Landmann-Johnsey was part of a group, Friends of Glendora, who filed a lawsuit against the city. In response, she said “”Lawsuits are sometimes necessary for people … who feel they are not being represented.”

- To the same question, Joe Santoro said “You’re really in jeopardy when someone wants to sue you.”

- Meg Whitman should have taken some lessons from Judy Nelson. Nelson, a business owner in Glendora, said she had not voted or paid attention to city politics for many years as she focused on her life. She owned it.

“I learned that is the wrong way to go,” she said.

Is having Mayor Ken Herman be the moderator for the Glendora council forum a conflict of interest?

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Was just informed today by those running the Glendora candidates forum next week that incumbent Mayor Ken Herman – who announced he would not seek reelection this spring – will moderate the Glendora council forum.

This raises a number of alarming questions that don’t seem to do any favors for the public.

I have no problem with Herman as a person and he has always been willing to talk about any issue regarding the city when I call. He has never hidden from an issue when I asked and even when the topics haven’t been positive for the city, he remained professional.

But having an incumbent councilman moderator a candidate forum may allow for some to question the political fairness, objectivity and neutrality of the role.

There are some serious questions that can be posed regarding actions of the current council and their impact on the city: i.e. Monrovia Nursery, City Manager Chris Jeffers, administrative contracts/benefits, union negotiations, and more.

Will Herman be willing to bring up issues that may be critical of some of his own decisions?

The conflict isn’t as clear since the majority of the candidates are newcomers with only one incumbent seeking reelection. But the one incumbent happens to be the only other councilman with a tenure close to as long as Herman’s. In fact, Doug Tessitor was part of the group that helped recall the majority of the council back in 2002, with Tessitor functioning as the spokesperson for the group that featured Herman, former councilmen Gary Clifford and Cliff Hamlow. Tessitor won election to the council the next year.

These guys are buddies. I can’t imagine none of the other candidates objecting because of that clear conflict.

Speaking off that, one of the candidates, Erica Landmann-Johnsey is well known by the council, and those who regularly attend council meetings, as being part of a group of citizens that regularly speak at meetings and often chastise the council.

In fact, Herman and Johnsey have had public disagreements that resulted in the two verbally sparring across the council chambers during a meeting. Now Herman will be moderating the first candidate forum for this election where Johnsey is running for his (and/or Terry Kent’s) open seat.

Herman has never been one to hold his tongue. At a council meeting, if a speaker is aggressive, insulting or highly critical, he won’t shy away from rebuttal, as he has demonstrated in the past.

If Johnsey, or another candidate, opines with a critical opinion of the current council – or even Herman – will Herman reserve his comments or will we have an additional debater in our moderator?

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune