Pasadena Election Begins to Simmer

Times Staff Writer

With the municipal election here less than two months away, the rhetoric in the campaign for three seats on the Board of City Directors is heating up.

And two would-be contenders have been disqualified by the city clerk for alleged errors in their nominating petitions.

Seeking reelection to the largely conservative board are directors Jess Hughston, Loretta Thompson-Glickman and William Thomson. Opposing them on the ballot will be former high school basketball star Chris Holden, wealthy businesswoman Margaret H. Sedenquist and J. Albert Curran, a retired engineering firm executive.

Election Is March 5

On March 5, voters will choose directors in three of the city's seven governing districts.

District 3, in northwest Pasadena with its heavily minority population, stretches north from Colorado Boulevard to Washington Boulevard and is bordered west and east by Fair Oaks and El Molino avenues, respectively.

District 5, a mixture of commercial and residential areas, is above Colorado Boulevard in the northeast section of the city and is bordered on the west by Allen Avenue and on the east by Michillinda Avenue.

Wealthy District 7 abuts the city of San Marino and stretches south from Colorado Boulevard to Los Robles Avenue.

Michael Zinzun, a former Black Panther, and Tom Smith, a communications specialist, were disqualified from appearing on the official ballot. Each has said he will conduct a write-in campaign. The deadline for filing as a write-in candidate is Feb. 19. Neither has yet filed.

Running against incumbent Hughston in District 5 is Sedenquist, a local businesswoman who said she decided to run because "as a citizen I am worried, and I decided to stop being worried and try to do something about it."

Sedenquist said her worries concern the "severe financial problems in this city" and Hughston's lack of leadership in those areas. She cited problems in the pension fund for police and firefighters.

"Our present director has not addressed any of those issues," Sedenquist said, "but he has worked hard to make sure he gets reelected."

Won't Tell Her Age

Sedenquist owns several apartment buildings, but refused to say how many. "I don't think it's anybody's business how many units I own," she said. She also refused to divulge her age. "That's classified," she said.

Sedenquist listed other financial holdings, including Mohawk Properties, a property management company; a real estate brokerage, and 50% of a plastics manufacturing company. She is active in several community organizations.

The District 5 campaign promises to be the most expensive of the election:

"Hughston told me that his budget was $40,000," Sedenquist said. "Naturally, I'm going to have to do that well."

Hughston, first elected to the board in 1981, discounted most of Sedenquist's claims. "There is no huge problem in our district," he said. The problems in the Fire and Police Pension Fund "will be resolved shortly," he said, "within six or seven months. The Financial Audit and Budget Committee is meeting right now on that very problem."

Hughston, 61, said his proudest achievement while in office was "establishing over 100 Neighborhood Watch programs in my district. Neighbors are talking to neighbors for the first time in years."

If reelected, he said, his biggest concern will be "keeping the district largely residential, except for along Foothill Boulevard, where the existing businesses are now."

While District 5 promises to be the site of the most campaign spending, District 3 in northwest Pasadena is shaping up as host of the most interesting race.

After months of vacillating about whether to seek reelection, Thompson-Glickman finally announced her candidacy in December. She said she made a last-minute decision to run because "with two other seats up for reelection, I really think there needed to be a certain continuity and stability to see that the northwest projects go through as planned."

In recent months, city directors have focused their attention on the crime-plagued northwest area, initiating a number of projects and community meetings to address neighborhood problems with drug trafficking and gang violence. Progress in mitigating those problems, however, has been slow.

Thompson-Glickman, who served as the city's first black mayor, also said she is seeking a third term because a number of redevelopment projects in the area "aren't as far along as I'd like them to be. It never happens fast enough. Government has always moved along at a snail's pace."

Running against Thompson-Glickman is 24-year-old Chris Holden, a former Pasadena High School basketball star who led his team to two straight CIF championships. He is the son of former state Sen. Nate Holden (D-Culver City).

Holden, who is now an investment counselor, said his sports experience is a big help in politics. "One of the things I learned playing basketball," Holden said, "is that at any time, any player can be upset. Anything's possible."

Holden said his campaign platform focuses on job training and reducing crime. "As far as jobs and crime, those issues interrelate," Holden said. "People turn to crime when they're unemployed."

Holden said he also is hoping to use criticisms voiced against Thompson-Glickman by members of the district's predominantly black and Latino population to unseat the incumbent.

"A lot of people in the district have indicated that it's time for a change," Holden said. "It was kind of a shock when she decided to run."

Thompson-Glickman has been criticized for failing to meet the needs of her minority constituents and of focusing instead on downtown business interests.

The incumbent said she is aware of those criticisms. "I think that's to be expected," she said. "I think they probably felt I was going to concentrate all of my time on women and minorities without understanding that my time would have to be divided between minorities, women and the business community."

Thompson-Glickman said her No. 1 priority if reelected would be "getting the brick and mortar started" in the northwest's redevelopment areas, and working on a "new concept" of affordable housing in her district.

Promising to run a write-in campaign against Thompson-Glickman is former Black Panther member Michael Zinzun, an outspoken community activist who was disqualified from the primary ballot after 26 of the 49 signatures on his nominating petition were invalidated by the city clerk. According to the City Charter, a nominating petition for a municipal candidate must contain the signatures of at least 25 registered voters residing in the district.

Lawyer William Thomson, 49, who is completing his first term as director in District 7, will be opposed by J. Albert Curran, 67, a retired director and senior vice president of C. F. Braun & Co., an international engineering firm.

Curran criticized Thomson's support of the Neighborhood Traffic Plan, a program that sought to divert traffic from residential areas by blocking left-turn lanes and closing some streets to two-way traffic. The plan was abandoned by the board recently after residents protested against it.

"He has exhibited poor judgment on this plan," Curran said of Thomson. "And it's an example of his poor judgment in general as a city director."

Curran said that, if elected, he will work to harmonize the needs of the business community with residential areas and would study ways to reduce costs in city spending.

Thomson dismissed Curran's criticisms as unfounded. "He has yet, as far as I know, to offer any solutions," Thomson said.

One of his proudest achievements, Thomson said, was--as chairman of the city's Olympic Committee--"spearheading the move that brought the Olympics to Pasadena." Olympic soccer was played in the Rose Bowl.

If reelected, Thomson said, he will work to enhance business for South Lake Avenue shops and to preserve the historical aspects of the district's neighborhoods.

Tom Smith, a former journalist who now describes himself as a communications specialist, said he plans to run a write-in campaign against Thomson in District 7. Smith was disqualified by the city clerk because his nominating petition was circulated by a someone not registered to vote within the district. The City Charter requires that petition circulators be registered to vote in the candidate's district.

If leading vote-getters in any district fail to receive a simple majority--50% plus one vote--a runoff election for that district will be held in April.

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