While state and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle have worked to sell voters on their notions of change, Mayor Donald Voss is more than comfortable campaigning on the achievements of city government in maintaining La Cañada Flintridge’s enviable quality of life.
When it comes to the city’s achievements over his last eight years on City Council, Voss was hard-pressed to narrow them down.
“Our city has made great progress on virtually every front,” said Voss, who after 25 years as a commercial banker, took on the job of city treasurer, then councilman, and has since dedicated the bulk of his time to public service.
In addition to time spent at City Hall, Voss has maintained involvement in several regional organizations, including the League of California Cities, and remains active in local groups such as the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada (noon) and LCF Chamber of Commerce.
Voss, 60, has tapped a wide base of support to raise more than $7,000 toward his reelection, according to state campaign finance reports, but he’s also played the role of family man. Married to Lynn De Groot Voss years after the passing of his first wife, the father of two adult sons proudly displays photos of his recently born grandson as comfortably as he delves into the details of city affairs.
Valley Sun: Briefly explain why you want to be on the council and your top priority if elected.
Donald Voss: I feel I’m able to contribute to the city and its residents to support education, practice fiscal responsibility, increase public safety, maintain and enhance our quality of life, support our business community and foster open and responsive city government.
What would you describe as the city’s most important accomplishment over the past several years?
I would say the initial achievements of the Downtown Village Specific Plan, the improvement of the look and business- and pedestrian-friendliness of the Foothill corridor. I’d say the partial sewerization of the city, fulfillment of the trail system and two major parks, the great collaborative effort during the Station fire and ensuing floods, our joint-use agreements with the school district.
What would you identify as a missed opportunity?
We weren’t able to get a positive sewer vote in district four, and I think that was, in retrospect, bad timing. The vote came at a time when we entered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and with the hefty assessments that were proposed, it’s no surprise that vote went down.
Which personal qualities that you possess are most relevant to being a council member?
At the risk of patting myself on the back, I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m a person of very high integrity and good and reasoned judgment. I think that’s critical to serving responsibly. I think I’m a good listener. I think I’m fair. I’m accessible.
If the city experienced unanticipated and significant revenue loss in the near future, where would you look first to make cuts?
Making cuts would come down the road a little bit, because we have a one-year level of reserves. That means we could operate a whole year without making any cuts, with zero revenue coming in.
Is City Hall user-friendly?
It’s written into our objectives for the city. I know there have been instances when we’ve fallen short, and we need to hear about those so we can improve. But my sense is that more often than not, we are a user-friendly City Hall.
How strong is the city’s general plan?
We have a new general plan draft, and we’ve spent a long time developing it and involving community members in the process, so my feeling is it’s been well-vetted — not just a response to the past, but a vision for the future.
All candidates have opposed the 710 tunnel, but what should a council member be doing about it?
The actions are testifying to Metro, which I’ve done several times, discussing the matter with Supervisor Antonovich, our Washington delegates, our state representatives. We’ve challenged Metro to look at alternative transportation methods that will solve [the regional] problem in a more modern, sustainable way. The tunnel is the ultimate folly.
Any thoughts on sewers?
The council’s job is to make sure the sewer question is raised every once in a while so residents always have the option.
What about peacocks?
Our responsibility is to ensure that the foes of the peacocks understand we are trying to deal with the issue and the supporters understand we are trying to protect a limited number that they find to be beautiful additions to our city.
And property tax breaks in exchange for historic preservation agreements?
We have a great opportunity to find a systematic way to preserve the character and legacy of our community as long as we can balance that against fiscal discipline, not create a bureaucracy to manage it, and are genuinely selective.
Why should voters choose you?
We have a council who knows how to work together collaboratively. We don’t always agree, but we respect one another’s opinion and craft a solution that works. This, by my view, is the definition of good government.