What got you interested in politics?
My first memory of it is from delivering the Pasadena Star News. I’d be on my bicycle delivering it before school each morning, and I’d fold the paper in half to toss it. I’d end up reading the front page every day and naturally started following the city council issues.
How do you see diversity in Pasadena?
Pasadena is not just diverse in race and ethnicity, but also diverse in how people have arrived. They bring unique backgrounds and history with them, which enriches the city. We’re also diverse in the sense that people come from every walk of life.
But we also have a diversity that we don’t often think about. That’s the diversity of now. The reality that residents live in now. We have everything from people struggling day to day to people who are very well off and everything in between. Our city has cultural, historical, and racial diversity, but also a diversity involving people’s current stations in life. It creates a dynamic set of issues to attend to. As elected officials, we have to connect and find common ground. That’s what makes Pasadena complex place to live as well as interesting and challenging to govern.
What are some of the biggest issues the community faces when it comes to racial equality?
Pasadena has a very long history of civil rights and involvement with the racial equality movement. What BLM and its movement reminded us all of, is while we may have made important strides in racially equality, while we may have made some advancements in equality as it relates to opportunity, we have a ways to go. It’s an important reminder for all of us. Anytime people don’t feel treated fairly, we all have a responsibility to correct that. That’s what we should all take away.
In the last year or so, this was a very important reminder to all of us that there are people who feel they aren’t treated fairly as it relates to the law, education, and opportunity, and Pasadena has a responsibility to find common ground and be part of the solution.
What are some things that Pasadena does well and where is there room for improvement?
We don’t have a parade, we have THE parade. We don’t have a stadium, we have THE stadium. There are not many cities this size that command a world stage, while also offering our residents exposure to so much great architecture and community events. However, we’re also small enough to be manageable and truly enact change. My role as Mayor is to bring the community together and find common ground.
How does your new city council reflect the city?
We have the most diverse city council that I can think of. We have some work to do in terms of gender diversity, but we have people representing Latinos, African Americans, Filipinos, Japanese Americans, and beyond. It’s a diverse make up of people who care about Pasadena. [At press time], we’re adding someone to replace me as member of city council, and that will only add more to that diversity. But it’s not just about racial or ethnic diversity—it’s about the diversity of experience. Bringing in people who represent a range in terms of their vantage point in the world, whether they grew up here or outside the city. Life’s experiences are what matters and informs debate and decision making.