Fresh faces for Crescenta Valley Town Council

It's all but assured that the six candidates running for the Crescenta Valley Town Council will find a seat on the dais after the election is all said and done this Saturday, but with three incumbents not returning, there will be some fresh faces.

Last year, the stakes were similar — six people running for six seats — but five of the candidates had been on the council before.

The town council serves as an advisory board for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich for unincorporated La Crescenta. The council has 12 seats — nine of them regular voting members with three-year terms, and three alternates who each serve one year. Alternates stand in for regular members who miss meetings.

Council participation tends to be the strongest when a controversial issue is afoot, said incumbent alternate Mike Claessens, adding that the organization is too important for residents to ignore.

“There's no fire, there's no flood, or anything exigent that's affecting people that's causing them to look to the government” right now, said Claessens, an attorney.

He wants to increase participation of Armenian and Korean communities in La Crescenta.

While there may not be a natural disaster like the wind storms of last winter or the 2009 Station fire to keep people engaged, incumbent alternate and Realtor Robert Thomas said, an important land use issue may come back this year.

The council, which advises Antonovich on local land use issues, may have the chance to influence residential regulations to limit the size of new developments. Similar rules were put in place for apartments and commercial areas, Thomas said.

Robbyn Battles, a Realtor, and the only incumbent voting member that's running, said in her ballot application that the council needs to involve more residents with expertise in architecture and building codes in its land use committee.

Marti Marshall, an office manager who's running for the council for the first time, said one way to increase involvement is to include stakeholders, such as business owners and members of clubs or religious organizations in the area.

Marshall helped certify the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, which isn't limited to resident participation like the Crescenta Valley Town Council is.

“We wanted to figure out how to get more people involved in the neighborhood council. One of the ways to do that is to open it up,” Marshall said.

Council President Cheryl Davis said each of the new candidates, from Marshall's neighborhood council experience to Daniel Cheung, a 24-year-old who can connect to younger residents, to Leslie Dickson, a stay-at-home mother of five who grew up in the community, will add a different perspective to the council.

Although Cheung, an educational consultant, graduated from Crescenta Valley High School in 2006, he won't be the youngest member to sit on the council. That distinction belongs to an 18-year-old who once served on the council, Davis said.

“You don't want all of the council to have the same experience, to be the same age,” said Davis.

Residents can vote from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd.

Follow Brittany on Google+ or Twitter @brittanylevine.

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