To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cacciotti retains South Pasadena council seat; Putnam locked in tight race but Mahmud overtakes him


By Zen Vuong, November 5, 2013

SOUTH PASADENA - Incumbent City Councilman Michael Cacciotti and newcomer Diana Mahmud will serve on the city council for the next four years.

While the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder counted the votes, Mayor Philip Putnam was locked in a tight race with Mahmud all night. Challenger Alan Reynolds trailed the field of four candidates seeking two seats.

“I wish to thank the residents of South Pasadena,” said Mahmud, 60. “To those that voted for me, of course I’m very grateful. For those that didn’t, thank you for participating in the election process.”
Cacciotti had almost 38 percent of the votes, Mahmud had nearly 28 percent, Putnam had 25 and Reynolds had 9.

Mahmud said she looks forward to serving all the residents of South Pasadena and celebrated the win with Champagne and some friends in a home. She was especially happy that this will be the second time in South Pasadena’s 125 years of history that the small town will have two women serving on the City Council.

Cacciotti, 54, said he was “cautiously optimistic” but not “overly confident” during the race even though numbers showed he had a strong lead throughout the race.

Providing basic municipal services is on the top of Cacciotti’s priority list, he said. He will also focus on basic infrastructure projects such as water, sewer and streets. Additionally, he would like to work on strategic planning for the future to address environmental concerns.

Cacciotti said he would push for cleaner vehicles, solar projects and bicycle projects along the Arroyo Seco.

Putnam, who declined to reveal his age, said he was proud of his “strong, clean campaign” but he wasn’t sure what his main focus should’ve been. Voter registration records indicate Putnam is 59.

“There are so many issues in local politics especially,” he said. “People have issues that are important to them and you never know what that is. In this town, it could be the 710 to water rates to downtown to something else. You just never know.”

If re-elected, Putnam said he would have continued to battle some of the same issues: fiscal responsibility, aging infrastructure and the proposed extension of the 710 Freeway. But he would have added another item to his agenda: the city permitting process.

“If someone wants to build a home or make minor home improvements, it seems that they have a lot of red tape,” Putnam said. “You have to go through too many different areas to comprehend for the average homeowners. In many cases, they have to hire expensive experts just to comply with some of our regulatory approvals.”

Mahmud said voters seemed to cling to the idea that she would have more time for the big demands of the City Council because she is a retired public works lawyer. She would carefully study council packets and contracts, she said.

Additionally, Mahmud said infrastructure is a huge issue in South Pasadena.

“I knew it was an issue when I started campaigning, but as I was walking on the sidewalks and seeing the street, I became more fully aware of just how distressed our infrastructure is in many if not all of the areas of town.”

Mahmud promised to figure out how to accelerate the rate of capital improvements because it doesn’t make sense to have reserves equal to about 55 percent of the general fund. The reserves earn 0.5 percent annual interest, and the cost of street repairs increase at a greater rate year after year.

Tuesday was Reynolds’ 29th birthday, and prior to election day, he told this newspaper it would have been a great birthday present to be so young and win a City Council seat.

In the race for city treasurer, Gary Pia ran unopposed, as did Evelyn Zneimer in seeking election as city clerk.

Mahmud said she was frustrated with the County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder because it was slow to report South Pasadena results, especially when compared to other cities.