A two-term planning commissioner with a lengthy résumé of civic involvement, Mike Davitt isn't a City Council incumbent, but his campaign has taken on a similar flavor.
Davitt, 46, was endorsed by retiring Councilman Greg Brown from the start of his campaign and is the only non-incumbent to win the support of the entire sitting council, plus County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino.
With promises to push for business-friendly improvements along Foothill Boulevard and a more user-friendly City Hall, his pitch to voters isn't one of complacency.
"It's about keeping our community great and pushing ourselves to make it better," said Davitt, director of real estate for the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Davitt also appears to be running the race's most ambitious campaign, at least financially speaking.According to contribution disclosures, he has raised more than $22,000 (including a loan of $10,000) almost exclusively from local donors, and as of late January had already poured $9,500 into campaign materials.
A father of four, Davitt grew up in La Cañada Flintridge and returned not long after earning his bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University. He is an active member of the St. Bede's parish, a volunteer AYSO and YMCA coach, and sits on the boards of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.
Briefly explain why you want to be on the council and your top priority if elected.
I want to take my involvement, my past experience, to a higher level. I want to expand upon the good that has happened here and try to take some of the things that haven't been so good and make them better.
What would you describe as the city's most important accomplishment over the past several years?
There's been great improvement since redoing the residential development standards in the city. It's not super flashy, but there is such an improvement with homes that are being built now compared to what some of the homes were in the past.
What would you identify as a missed opportunity?
I think the city can take a more aggressive approach to make Foothill more user-friendly and attract more businesses that compliment the community.
Which personal qualities that you posses are most relevant to being a council member?
I'd say probably leadership. I also think I'm very open-minded - I don't judge something before I've heard all the facts. Additionally, I'm a compromiser and a negotiator.
If the city experienced unanticipated and significant revenue loss in the near future, where would you look first to make cuts?
It's difficult to say. We're blessed that the city's in a good financial situation, although the situation in
Sacramento needs to be watched. If we had to cut, we obviously don't want to jeopardize life safety, especially with what we experienced in the fire and floods. But even if we don't have a change in revenue, it's incumbent upon the City Council to push where we can to save money because we're operating on tax dollars.
Is City Hall user-friendly?
In my work, I visit a lot of city halls. I don't think City Hall is un-user-friendly now, but I think that we can do better. I think we can produce an environment - whether it's a change physically or in the way processes flow - where people are not in a mystery about where to go in City Hall. Something I'd like to see done that is low cost is for the city to improve upon its website.
How strong is the city's general plan?
I think the city's general plan is a good working document, and that's what we have to look at it as: a working document. What's important is that you have to be flexible enough to adapt things. You want it to become a living, breathing document.
All candidates have opposed the 710 tunnel, but what should a council member be doing about it?
I think a council person needs to be on the front end of working with the state and federal government, telling these organizations we oppose this. When you talk about it being a regional issue, we have to make sure La Cañada's interests are protected first.
Any thoughts on sewers?
I'm very supportive of what the residents want. If they don't want the sewers, and it doesn't seem reasonable to me in its current proposal, I will fight the county or other government agencies to protect the citizens from an undue burdens.
What about peacocks?
I don't like 'em. I think the residents in that area have made it abundantly clear they don't want them.
And property tax breaks in exchange for historic preservation agreements?
We need to be careful about historic preservation because we don't want to create an ordinance that's burdensome on property owners' rights.
Why should voters choose you?
I have a lot of experience dealing with the city through the Planning Commission, and my longevity in the city gives me a unique perspective - I can remember a lot of things from the '70s growing up. There are a lot of people in the race and a lot of our answers [about issues] are the same, but I'm the one [non-incumbent] with proven commitment to the community. I've spent the hours at Planning Commission till midnight or one in the morning wrestling with designs, trying to help the community.