Issues

Here is a summary of critical ISSUES facing Pasadena.

In each case, I have summarized the ISSUE and explained WHAT I HAVE DONE, and WHAT I WILL DO NEXT so that you can gain a quick overview of my record and my proposals.

For additional information, please email me at Terry@TornekForMayor.com

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

THE ISSUE

We have all been impacted by this new highly contagious and dangerous virus. It has required unprecedented governmental action, disrupted our lives and our ability to work, recreate and learn.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

Working closely with City staff, County officials and public health experts, I have been deeply engaged in establishing policies to keep our residents safe and to provide support to our most vulnerable populations and businesses.

We established an array of new emergency programs: installed an emergency medical facility at the Convention Center, funded our non-profits and churches to make certain that no one goes hungry, passed an anti-eviction moratorium for businesses and renters, provided additional housing for the homeless and developed new financial assistance for small businesses and renters.

I recorded weekly video messages and written information to the community to keep everyone informed about rapid and important changes in regulations and protocols.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

I will continue to keep the public informed as we reduce the spread of the virus and make certain that we do everything possible to permit people and businesses to earn a living. I will support the schools in their difficult challenges to educate their students. Most important, I will actively manage the City Budget to avoid cutting critical services without taking on excessive debt.

BUILDING PASADENA’S FINANCIAL STRENGTH

THE ISSUE

 Cities cannot deliver high quality services without being financially sound. Unlike the Federal government we must live within our means.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 Pasadena had developed a structural deficit, which means we were spending more than we were collecting and using reserves to make up the difference. Moreover, we had been victimized by an employee who stole $6 million over an 11 year period due to inadequate internal accounting controls.

I made it my first priority as Mayor to get our financial house in order.  As Chair of the Finance Committee, I made certain that we rebuilt our accounting system and replenished our Reserves. Then I went to the Voters with Measures I and J to generate $21 million annually so we could eliminate any structural deficit and have funds available to invest in our capital infrastructure and looming pension liability.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

 Those Measure I funds have saved us from having to make deep service cuts due to the revenue loss from the COVID emergency. They have also allowed us to support new emergency programs to address food insecurity, surge hospital space, small business subsidies and rental assistance programs.

COVID recovery will take several years and my proven financial expertise is required to steer us on a safe course during the recovery and beyond.

SUPPORTING PUBLIC EDUCATION

THE ISSUE

 Pasadena City government and the Pasadena Unified School District have traditionally had an arm’s-length relationship. The PUSD has suffered from a largely undeserved poor reputation and declining enrollment.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 Our family’s relationship with the PUSD goes back nearly 40 years with my children attending Longfellow and Jefferson and my wife Maria teaching at Jefferson school. More recently, my 3 granddaughters have attended PUSD schools and my son Joshua has taught at Blair and Marshall. As Mayor I have gone on record as saying that we can’t have First Class city without a first class public education system

After walking the neighborhoods and confirming widespread support for improving public education, I conceived of and Chaired the campaign for Measure J to generate an unprecedented $7 million annually for the PUSD.

I have also served for 6 years on COLLABORATE PASADENA a joint City/PUSD/Non-profit agency group striving to support our children. My continuing support of with the PUSD earned me recognition as “Citizen Volunteer of the Year.”

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

  I will make City resources available to PUSD as they struggle with the challenges posed by COVID.  Further, I will help them to develop their surplus property to generate additional income and potentially provide workforce housing. 

HOMELESSNESS/AFFORDABLE HOUSING

THE ISSUE

 Homelessness and the related shortage of Affordable Housing have emerged as the most impactful issues facing our City.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 I have spent more than 40 years as a volunteer in non-profit organizations devoted to building and preserving affordable housing in Pasadena and throughout the State of California including 19 years on the Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services Board.

By supporting our Housing department and supporting our non-profits, Pasadena has managed to reduce our Homeless populations for several years in a row in direct contrast with the growing population in LA City and County. We have also built hundreds of affordable units.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

I have proposed  several initiatives that will continue to produce affordable housing: using city-owned property in the Civic Center and elsewhere in the City; working with the churches and the PUSD to develop their surplus land into workforce and affordable housing; continuing to work toward converting underutilized motels and other underutilized properties into affordable housing. 

710 FREEWAY

THE ISSUE

Pasadena lived under the cloud of the construction of a freeway extension for 60 years. The proposal would have brought huge volumes of traffic and associated adverse environmental degradation to our City.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

After decades of inconclusive political and legal struggle, I devised a strategy based on using the completed Environmental Impact statement and funding realities to assemble a unanimous vote at METRO to defeat the project. Further, $240M in funding allocated to the 710 has now been reallocated to Pasadena for transportation projects.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

 There must be careful planning done to allow CALTRANS to transfer the property to the City. Then we must undertake a broad-based public planning process to determine how this valuable 50 acres can be reintegrated to the City.

PUBLIC SAFETY

THE ISSUE

 The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis brought unprecedented attention to the unfair treatment of minorities by police and a resulting lack of trust. Pasadena’s Police Department has made great strides in reduction in use of force and biased treatment while reducing crime and taking illegal guns off our streets. However, we are not immune to these issues and we have suffered our share of controversial incidents.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 I signed the Obama Foundation’s pledge to Review, Engage, Report and Reform. Further, I committed to bring forth a proposal for Civilian Oversight to the City Council within 60 days. I actually brought that proposal forth within 45 days.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

 Developing effective Police oversight, finding the appropriate funding level and modifying policing strategies while maintaining a motivated and effective police force requires thoughtful and focused attention. These issues will require engaged and imaginative leadership. 

ENVIRONMENT

THE ISSUE

 Our environmental challenges include executing our commitment to clean energy while controlling cost increases, maintaining a safe and adequate water supply, managing our solid waste and improving our open spaces.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 As a member of the Municipal Services Committee I have worked to reduce fossil fuel uses while avoiding excessive rate increases. While serving on the LA County Sanitation District, I have advocated for water conservation and reuse and solid waste recycling and innovation. I launched the effort to create the ONE ARROYO FOUNDATION to raise capital and enhance the Arroyo Seco. These efforts have gained me recognition from the ARROYO SECO FOUNDATION, the SIERRA CLUB and the LA League of Conservation Voters.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

 We must continue to innovate in the areas of power supply, solid waste recycling and water conservation. The challenge will be to continue to implement our Climate action Plan without excessively impacting user fees. In the Arroyo Seco, our most significant open space, we must find a way to manage intense activity by a wide range of users while maintaining the environmental quality of the park.

DEVELOPMENT

THE ISSUE

 The amount, scale, design and placement of new development has always been a central issue in Pasadena. There are a wide range of views on what should be built. This has now been complicated further by State intervention designed to reduce acute housing shortages and associated rapid rapidly escalating housing costs.

WHAT I HAVE DONE

 As a former Pasadena Planning Director and Planning Commissioner, I have been intensively engaged in these issues. I have always been committed to the preservation of our neighborhoods and created the neighborhood Historic District ordinances well as the redevelopment plan for Old Pasadena.

As Mayor I have been deeply involved in the adoption of our updated General Plan based on participation of thousands of residents who helped craft a document that preserves neighborhoods and accommodates carefully controlled growth in specific areas of the City – primarily on arterial streets in and around downtown.

WHAT I WILL DO NEXT

 Pasadena must have some new development to keep us financially strong and to create opportunities for our children to live and work. We must maintain a good housing/employment balance to minimize commuter traffic. I will make certain that new development conforms to the General Plan and is beneficial to the City. I will continue to advocate with the State to try to make sure that new legislation recognizes Pasadena’s efforts at managing appropriate growth. I will stay engaged in a resident-based, ongoing planning process that will keep Pasadena Moving Forward.