There were recriminations and regrets in the aftermath of Tuesday’s City Council election, in which a Spanish-speaking Anglo defeated a Latino to represent a predominantly Latino district.
Even as Joe Morales was congratulating Bill Crowfoot for winning their hotly contested District 5 race, Crowfoot’s critics were slamming him for running what they said was a negative campaign that appealed to the fears of Anglo voters.
One Morales backer, Councilman Isaac Richard, angrily told Crowfoot that he was “going to be miserable” on the council and threatened to start a recall drive. Richard said Crowfoot had “no right” to represent a predominantly minority district.
Tuesday’s election was the first under a redistricting map drawn to give maximum opportunity to Latino voters and candidates. Latinos, 27% of the city’s population, are Pasadena’s largest minority group, but there has never been a Latino on the council.
Latinos, 58% of the population in District 5, did not register or vote in sufficient numbers to overcome Crowfoot’s solid support among Anglos, Morales’ supporters said.
“Crowfoot did a better job of keeping (the Latinos) from voting than we did of getting them to vote,” said Tim Brick, Morales’ campaign manager. He charged that Crowfoot’s campaign had “spread doubts” among Latino voters rather than “empowering” them.
Crowfoot and his supporters denied that they had run a negative campaign. Hard work won the race, as well as Morales’ emphasis on “ethnic symbolism” rather than substantive issues, they said.
“I don’t think (Morales) got his good points over to the voters,” said Crowfoot strategist Doug Kahn, who claimed Morales’ only clearly drawn strong point had been the fact that he is a Latino.
Crowfoot said he walked every street in the district, talked to voters in English and Spanish and even wrote hundreds of personal letters to voters.
Crowfoot won with 663 votes, 55% of the total, to Morales’ 471, 39% of the total. Two other candidates, painting contractor Ken Saureman and book salesman Christopher Bray, were not factors, collecting 70 votes between them.
In other council races, incumbents William Thomson and Chris Holden beat back challenges. Holden won the District 3 seat by a landslide over his opponent, Robert Edwards, the manager of a large low-income housing development in northwest Pasadena. Thomson also won handily, though lawyer Dorrie Poole carried several precincts in District 7 in the southeast part of the city.
“Dorrie threw a scare into him,” Mayor Rick Cole said of Thomson, a former mayor who has been on the council for 12 years.
The voters also decided a long-running debate as to whether they should be governed by a City Council or a Board of Directors. Make it a City Council, the voters said, approving a city Charter amendment to that effect by better than two to one.
But nothing aroused emotions as much as the race in District 5, where 83% of the residents are black, Asian or Latino. So incensed was Richard at the result that he threatened a lawsuit under the U.S Voting Rights Act and an immediate recall drive against Crowfoot. State law would not permit such a move until Crowfoot has been in office six months.
As candidates and their supporters milled around the Pasadena Convention Center, where the votes were counted Tuesday night, Richard confronted Crowfoot.
“You’re going to be miserable on the City Council!” he said angrily, thrusting his face close to Crowfoot’s. “You’re not going to last. You know damn well you have no right to represent a district that’s 83% minority.”
Crowfoot walked away from Richard without directly responding to him.
In his campaign, Crowfoot hit Morales hard for never having voted in Pasadena, though Morales has lived in the city for five years. Morales said he had maintained his voter registration at his parents’ home in East Los Angeles until six months ago because it was a convenient mail drop during a time he was often traveling.
“I’ve lived in Pasadena as long as he has,” Morales said of Crowfoot, who spent most of his youth in Puerto Rico and moved to Pasadena from Latin America five years ago.
Crowfoot also contrasted himself with Morales in terms of philosophy and style, saying that he believed in “government from the bottom up,” while Morales was a classic politician who preferred “dealing with power blocs.”
Morales received endorsements and campaign contributions from much of Pasadena’s liberal and business establishment. Crowfoot financed his campaign largely with his own money.
The Morales camp denied that their candidate was a “classic politician.”
“He’s never run for office before,” Brick said. But Morales’ backers conceded the effectiveness of Crowfoot’s attacks.
Ultimately, Morales was viewed with distrust in precincts that were predominantly Anglo and middle class, said Cole, a Morales supporter. “As a result, he got most of his support from lower-income voters, people who in a real sense are less likely to vote,” the mayor said. “When you go out there to a poor neighborhood and ask if so-and-so is going to vote, you get the answer that he’s off at work and not expected until 9.”
Crowfoot, who will take office in April, said he will seek to unify the diverse elements in his district.
“We have to cut through the stereotypes to show we share common problems,” he said. “This will bring us together.”
PASADENA ELECTION RESULTS
6 of 6 Precincts
VOTE % Chris Holden* 815 82.8 Robert Edwards 170 17.2
* District 5
10 of 10 Precincts
VOTE % Bill Crowfoot 663 55.0 Joseph Morales 471 39.1 Ken Saurenman 47 3.8 Christopher Bray 23 1.9
* District 7
6 of 6 Precincts
VOTE % William Thomson* 1,407 58.2 Dorrie Poole 1,012 41.8
* Board of Education
89 of 89 Precincts Reporting Seat 1
VOTE % George A. Padilla* 7,423 61.6 Timothy Price 4,642 38.4
VOTE % Lisa Fowler 5,753 46.2 Wilbert L. Smith* 4,356 34.9 Geoffrey Commons 2,361 18.9
VOTE % Anne Pursel* 7,519 61.0 Andrew Paterson 3,536 28.6 Kevork Keushkerian 1,283 10.4
* Proposition 1
Shall the city’s charter be amended to use “City Council” as the sole reference to the city’s legislative body, to change “Chairman” to “Mayor,” “Vice Chairman” to “Vice Mayor,” and “Director” to “Council Member?”
70 of 70 Precincts Reporting
VOTE % Yes 5,950 67.8 No 2,825 32.2
NOTE: Boldface type indicates winners or candidates in runoff.
* Denotes incumbent