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Pasadena voters elect city's first new mayor in 16 years

Pasadena elects its first new mayor in 16 years

Pasadena Councilman Terry Tornek, a real estate developer and former city planner, has been chosen as the second directly elected mayor in the city's history.

Tornek won 55.5% of the vote in Tuesday's runoff election, according to initial returns from the Pasadena City Clerk's office, defeating Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson, who had 44.4% of the vote.

Tornek and Robinson, a Pasadena native who was the youngest elected council member in city history, were the top two vote-getters in a field of six during a March 10 primary election.

Their campaigns were waged under the cloud of a $6.4-million embezzlement scheme in which a midlevel employee siphoned money from an underground utility fund for more than decade. Though Pasadena administrators and elected officials have faced fierce criticism since the incident was made public in January, some credit Tornek's questions about the finances of the fund for prompting the discovery of the embezzlement.

Financial accountability was a main issue of the election, with development, public safety and what to do about the unfinished 710 Freeway also figuring in the contest.

Tornek will be Pasadena's first new mayor in 16 years. It's largely a ceremonial position, but it comes with some power to choose appointments for certain city commissions and bodies.

Tornek will succeed Mayor Bill Bogaard, 76, who became the city's first directly elected mayor in 1999. Bogaard, a popular mayor who was reelected by huge margins, is to be celebrated for his service during a ceremony in front of City Hall on Saturday.

Tyron Hampton, a Pasadena Unified School District board member, was leading the race to fill Robinson's council seat by 63 votes on Tuesday night. Robinson had to give up her seat to run for mayor because city law does not allow candidates to run for two offices at the same time.

Approximately 16,000 people voted in the primary for a turnout rate of 17.4%, said city spokesman William Boyer. There are at least 1,300 additional provisional and vote-by-mail ballots to count. The final results are scheduled to be adopted at a May 4 council meeting.

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