As far as Tom Paterson is concerned, City Hall is a remote, unresponsive institution in need of drastic reform.
“We need to tear the temple down and start over again,” he said.
A longtime North Hollywood community activist, Paterson is promising to do that as he campaigns for the City Council seat held by veteran incumbent Joel Wachs.
Paterson, who has held a variety of middle-management positions for a City of Industry firm that sells carpet-installation supplies, said the council also is badly in need of management expertise.
“The city faces serious infrastructure, management credibility and fiscal problems,” he said. “With 25 years’ experience in the private business community, I have developed a business management experience, vision, expertise and perspective--something missing in today’s council makeup.”
Paterson, 56, has long been active in homeowner and other community groups in the North Hollywood area.
He served as president of the North Hollywood Homeowners Assn. for seven years and is now president of the Valley Village Homeowners Assn.
He also was co-founder of the Coalition of Freeway Residents and chaired the legislative and legal committee of the East Valley Airport Impacted Communities Coalition.
An articulate, thoughtful man, Paterson is a classic grass-roots candidate. His campaign headquarters is a friend’s home and he has raised exactly $1,079 for the race. He took a week of vacation time from his job to campaign--the only full-time campaigning he will be able to do before Election Day.
In Wachs, Paterson is up against a skillful politician with 20 years in the same office. The incumbent has raised more than $67,000 for his campaign and, unlike Paterson, is well known in the district.
But Paterson is hopeful he can capitalize on what he sees as a thread of discontent among voters with politics-as-usual.
“There’s just a mood out there,” he said. “People are ready for change.”
Paterson said if elected, he will push to create much smaller council districts. He said he thinks the city should double the number of districts, to 30 from 15, because smaller districts would provide better representation to local residents. That could be done, he said, without any increase in taxes by making cuts elsewhere in the city budget.
Paterson also said he will help write a citywide growth-management plan. The city’s failure to do so, he said, has contributed to problems with traffic, waste disposal and other services.
“The city has let growth get out of control and now we have all these infrastructure problems and we’re trying to play catch-up,” he said. Paterson also favors limiting council members to two terms in office, making it easier for citizen groups to recall city elected officials and rolling back the 40% pay raise that council members received when voters approved a city ethics initiative last year.
Occupation: Corporate transportation manager and buyer
Education: University of Illinois, BS
Home: North Hollywood