The number of people who have pulled papers to enter the race for three City Council seats that open next year has increased to seven, with political newcomer Jacqueline Harris entering a field of two incumbents and four other potential challengers.
Prospective candidates have until Dec. 15 to file their candidacy papers for the March 8 city election.
Mayor Donald Voss and Councilwoman Laura Olhasso have filed and qualified for the ballot, but Councilman Greg Brown announced early last month that he would not seek another term, a decision guaranteeing at least one new face on next year's council.
Brown endorses Planning Commissioner Michael Davitt, who said he hopes to build on previous council success in managing growth and controlling spending.
While local businessman and schools booster Charlie Kamar also expressed satisfaction with the job current council members are doing, anti-sewers activist Robert Richter and former Planning Commission member James Hill are more critical of the way council members have responded to constituent concerns.
Harris, a nurse specializing in organ transplants and employed by Astellas Pharma US, a pharmaceutical company, is also less than pleased with the council's interaction with the public.
"They've fallen down in general communication. The last council person to come to my door was [former Mayor turned state Assemblyman] Anthony Portantino, " said Harris, 48, a recreational pilot and Girl Scouts volunteer whose daughter graduated from La Canada High School and fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, attend 8th grade there.
"Council members need to get out into the community. Everybody wants to be heard, and three minutes [of public comment] at a City Council meeting isn't enough," she said. "Given my background as a nurse, being a people person, I can be a good bridge between the average person and the city."
While Harris did credit Councilman Steven Del Guercio for helping address a sewage leak on her block through telephone and e-mail contact, she criticized the city's handling of street-tree maintenance and other neighborhood-level issues.
In previous election coverage, Voss and Olhasso cited increased responsiveness to public concern on various neighborhood issues among current council accomplishments.
When it comes to customer service, La Cañada Union 76 Station owner Kamar, who was traveling and could not be reached for previous election coverage, said his concern is a personal drive to become more involved in civic affairs.
Already a Chamber of Commerce board member and a volunteer with the La Cañada Flintridge Merchants Association and LCF Educational Foundation, Kamar said he would make sure the voices from the local business community — and everyone else's — are heard at City Hall.
"I love this town. For the last 23 years I've been serving the people of La Cañada Flintridge. I figure it's time to take my service to a higher level, and we haven't had any local business owners on the council in a long time," said Kamar, 58, who has a son at Palm Crest Elementary. "My slogan is to reach out to everybody in La Cañada, to make people feel the City Council is theirs."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun