The fledgling Crescenta Valley Town Council is in a quandary this week over what to do about a dearth of candidates seeking council seats.
"I don't know what happened. Last year we had plenty of candidates," said Patty Steur, a member of the council's election advisory committee.
Only four candidates met the filing deadline Saturday for six seats on the council. The seats include two-year terms in each of three districts, and non-voting, one-year alternate positions in each district.
Two of the candidates, Judy Tejeda and Bill Beavers, are incumbent voting members running unopposed in their districts, which leaves no candidates to fill vacated alternate positions in those districts.
The incumbent in the third district, Councilman Anthony P. Hurtado, said he would step down after only one year in office and did not file for reelection. The alternate in that district, Larry Lousen, had said he planned to run for the voting position but failed to meet the filing deadline. Lousen, who said he inadvertently missed the deadline, has asked the council for a filing extension.
Instead, two newcomers, Marjorie R. Koerber and Robert E. Yanez, filed to succeed Hurtado, making them the only candidates eligible for election to the one voting position and one non-voting position in the district. Koerber is an office manager who has lived in La Crescenta for 22 years. Yanez, an attorney and three-year resident, said he is concerned about development, planning and soaring sewer rate charges.
A special meeting of the election committee was scheduled for late Wednesday. Town Council President Thomas M. Johnston, who also is chairman of the council's election committee, said the council would consider various solutions.
The filing deadline could be extended, but that could allow a latecomer to knock out a candidate who had complied with the rules. Johnston said the council could declare the unopposed incumbents in two of the districts to be automatic winners. Alternates could then be appointed or elected.
The council, formed just a year ago to serve as the quasi-governmental voice of the isolated mountain community, is still reviewing and revising its bylaws, Johnston said.
A total of 28 candidates competed for 12 positions when the council was formed last year. Organizers of that election said that community participation was essential to the council's success.
Johnston blamed the shortage of candidates this year, in part, on a lack of public awareness of the election.
"The basic problem is notification," Johnston said. "A lot of people just didn't know about it. In our formation year, we were able to collect the resources necessary to do a home mailer to every residence alerting them to the election. That was beyond our financial capabilities this year."
Although the council has no power to enact or enforce laws, it serves as the voice of the community's 21,000 residents in advising the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In December, it was instrumental in getting the county to impose a moratorium on the construction of new billboards.
A series of candidate forums are scheduled, including a Feb. 7 luncheon of the Montrose/Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce; a Feb. 14 luncheon of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce; and a Feb. 15 meeting of the Town Council.