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L.A. COUNTY ELECTIONS

Measure to Create Elected Mayor in Pasadena Approved by Voters

November 05, 1998|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Even with the Rose Bowl and Caltech, Pasadena still yearns to be proclaimed a big city.

So voters filled in one missing element, approving Measure M by a 3-1 margin Tuesday to create the office of mayor.

The electorate in this city of 134,000 agreed with backers of the measure that adding a mayor to the seven-member council would unify the diverse community. The title of mayor is now largely ceremonial, passed among City Council members every two years.

The elected mayor will have the power to propose a city budget. But like most small and mid-sized cities, Pasadena is run day to day by a city manager.

Passage of Measure M is a victory for current Mayor Chris Holden, who championed the issue for the past several years. Voters delivered Holden a bonus, choosing a March 1999 election over 2001--making him a leading contender for the office.

"Voters saw the need for citywide leadership and did not want to wait," Holden said. "This citywide mayor will define the issues for Pasadena and lead the city into the 21st century."

Holden said the office will provide the city with a leader on local issues and a lobbyist on regional issues. Holden, the son of Los Angeles Councilman Nate Holden, said Wednesday that he "would not rule out running for the office."

Candidates have until Dec. 16 to file papers for the office.

Measure M was put on the ballot on the recommendation of a 21-member Charter Reform Task Force after nine months of debate.

Task force members, who were selected by the council, concluded that city debates have become largely parochial since 1981, when the city was divided into council districts. While most supported the idea of having an elected mayor, lines were drawn in Tuesday's election between those who favored an early election and those who wanted more time to prepare a candidate for the job.

Opponents of the measure said they fear that it will give Pasadena a more urban character.

Voters also narrowly approved a plan Tuesday for a city committee to set compensation levels based on council attendance, while rejecting a pay hike from $100 a meeting to $250.

Councilman William Crowfoot, who opposed Measure M, said the ability of residents to have an impact on city decisions may decline.

"It is going to be a very expensive race," Crowfoot said. "Unions and corporations are going to be in the driving seat when it comes to selecting candidates."

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