Jobs and transportation were among the hot topics at a forum Thursday night featuring the five candidates running for the 41st Assembly District serving Pasadena, South Pasadena and nearby cities.
South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, Pasadena attorney Edward Colton, Pasadena Councilman Chris Holden, Claremont tea party activist Donna Lowe and Pasadena businesswoman Victoria Rusnak spoke before about 70 people at the Pasadena Senior Center.
Cacciotti, a Democrat and member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said he would push to develop renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on imported fuel. He called for continued expansion of the Gold Line through the San Gabriel Valley and said funds from Los Angeles County’s Measure R can generate key construction jobs in the region.
Holden, a Democrat who has served on the Pasadena City Council for more than 20 years, noted that he has supported the Gold Line from its inception and believes transportation funds are key drivers of job growth. He said lawmakers in Sacramento have not put aside their differences to support public education, which must improve to give young people a chance for economic success.
“I feel this is a perfect opportunity to step forward and work together to bring leadership to the state. That’s not happening now,” he said. “It’s undeniable we need to make education funding the highest priority, yet it’s at the bottom of [the list in] Sacramento.”
Rusnak, the only Democrat running for the seat who is not now in elected office, said Sacramento has to get out of the way of businesses that can rev up the economy by cutting back on burdensome regulations and encouraging businesses to locate here.
“I’m not a career politician. I’m a businesswoman, and look forward to do business in Sacramento,” she said.
Colton, a tax attorney and corporate executive who called himself “a different kind of Republican,” said he would like to see California shift to a part-time legislature. He said he wants to create incentives to bring business to the state and would push for reforms compelling banks to negotiate more with homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
“I believe we can bring California to economic prosperity. But we have to act today,” he said.
Lowe, a Republican, said she will seek more local control of government and taxpayer dollars, and is wary of state agencies driving transportation projects. “It’s scary to think every public transportation plan must be funded by the state,” Lowe said.
She said she opposes the idea of giving public subsidies to companies that promise to bring jobs to California.
The forum was sponsored by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, and the Pasadena Foothills Assn. of Realtors.