La Cañada City Council race draws shrugs, Anthony Portantino weighs in

La Cañada Flintridge voters will decide two seats on the City Council in Tuesday's election, but the campaign has so far been quiet.

The city is home to slightly more than 20,000 residents, 14,900 of them registered voters. Yet, a forum held earlier this month drew fewer than 90 people. During the evening the three candidates — incumbent Dave Spence, accountant Joe Layton and Planning Commissioner Jon Curtis — agreed on many issues, including opposing a Long Beach (710) Freeway extension and reviewing ways to reduce crime.

Some 5,600 of the city's registered voters choose to vote by mail, according to City Clerk Yvette Hall. As of Tuesday, she said, just a fraction of those had returned their ballots.

Former state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a local resident and former mayor of this city, said even if residents aren't showing up at public forums and City Council meetings, they are still paying attention. Still, he said, there is no hot-button issue to drive voter turnout next week.

“I think people are comfortable and pleased with the direction the city is taking,” Portantino said. “I think that will be reflected in both the outcome and turnout of the election.”

Residents are likely happy with current elected officials because they have addressed issues they care about, like the tree ordinance, he said.

“Over the past decade, the council has tried to be responsive to the community and has avoided a significant, polarizing issue,” Portantino said.

Portantino donated $500 to Curtis, who has raised the most money in the race at $13,935, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city last week.

Layton, a newcomer to local politics, has raised $6,350. Spence, a former mayor and longtime councilman, has raised $8,349.

Andrew Blumenfeld, who ousted an incumbent when he won a seat on the La Cañada school board in 2011, said he would like to see new faces on the City Council.

Blumenfeld supports Layton and Curtis, candidates he said he believes are advocates of collaboration efforts between the city and the school district.

“It's not a novel idea for the city to work with the school board,” he said. “In this day and age, the community values, above all, that we maintain and improve upon the high quality of education that this city maintains.”

It's important that a new City Council member cares about the school system, Blumenfeld said. “It is a part of this community's identity.”


The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Polling sites include Lutheran Church in the Foothills, La Cañada Presbyterian Church, La Cañada Flintridge Country Club, Foothill Municipal Water District and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.


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