Portantino, 2 Other LCF Residents Seek State Office

The June 7 primary is approaching in a hurry, and La Cañada Flintridge has a presence in a pair of intriguing state races.
Anthony Portantino is no stranger in town: He previously served as mayor here before he was elected to the state Assembly in 2005, succeeding LCF’s Carol Liu. Now he is in the thick of a six-candidate race for the 25th state Senate District seat that will be vacated by Liu, who will term out.
Meanwhile, LCF’s Andrew Blumenfeld and Rajiv Dalal are among the eight candidates pursuing the state Assembly seat in the 43rd District. That post will be vacated by Mike Gatto, who also will have reached his term limit.
Portantino announced his intention to run for the state Senate early, in 2013, after opting against seeking elected office immediately after his Assembly term expired.
“My mom was sick and as I said at the time, ‘I can always be a politician, I have a short amount of time to be a son,’” Portantino said this week, when he reiterated that local supporters encouraged him to seek the 25th District seat, which includes LCF, Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.
His opponents in the primary — from which two candidates will emerge to face off in November’s general election — include Republican Michael Antonovich, who also has reached his term limit in his role as Los Angeles County supervisor.
Antonovich faces a field otherwise composed entirely of Democrats, including Portantino, former Pasadena police Lt. Phlunte Riddle, Teddy Choi, Katherine Perez-Estolano and Chris Chahinian.
Portantino plans to spend the time between now and the election doing what he’s done for years: “walking, every day.”
“I had a reputation of walking the city when I ran for City Council and I’ve continued to pound the pavement the old-fashioned way,” said Portantino, whose message to constituents is focused, in part, on education and transparent government.
He said all that contact with people has helped drive a lot of his policy work in the past, including legislation that helped make umbilical cord blood collection a priority in California, which he said has helped save 25 lives so far.
“The reason I set that up in California was because a La Cañada kid was the first UCLA cancer patient to get a cord-blood transfusion,” Portantino said. “His mom told my wife and me how cord blood had saved his life. And we find out there’s no public infrastructure for that. So I went to Sacramento and set up the California Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program — and that had a direct nexus to the kid from La Cañada.”
Portantino’s other local efforts include everything from spearheading the effort to introduce lights at the softball field at La Cañada High School to his support of local trails by helping to secure funding for trail projects in Cherry Canyon and improvements to the Flint Canyon Trail. He’s also long been a staunch opponent of the proposed 710 Freeway Tunnel.
“Anthony has been extremely dedicated to the community and the city has benefited from Anthony’s dedication, commitment and accomplishments,” LCF Mayor Jonathan Curtis said. “He’s a strong leader who would certainly work very strongly to continue the betterment of our community.”
Portantino said his campaign has attracted support among LCF youth who have worked phone banks or gotten the word out by foot.
When he was previously in state office, Portantino led the charge to ban big rigs on Angeles Crest Highway following the crash at the foot of the highway that killed two and injured 12 in 2009.
He also is credited for working to improve HIV/AIDS education and diagnoses and won the right to examine state Assembly spending practices after Democratic leaders slashed his budget and ordered temporary layoffs of his office staff. Portantino decried their action as retaliation for his unwillingness to support a state budget proposal by the party’s leadership.
Dalal and Blumenfeld, the pair of LCF candidates running as Democrats for the 43rd state Assembly District seat, are part of a race that’s reported to be skewing toward Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman and Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian.
Also running are Democrat Dennis Bullock, a former dean of Providence High School in Burbank, as well as Republicans Mark MacCarley, a retired Army general, and Alexandra Bustamante, a political newcomer. Aaron Cervantes, a former detention officer, is running as a member of the American Independent Party.
Blumenfeld is a 5th-grade teacher at Crown Preparatory Academy in Los Angeles. An La Cañada High School alumnus, he was formerly the president of the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, to which he was elected at the age of 20, in 2011.
Dalal, a former appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, helped design tax incentives, such as the expanded state film tax credit, to bolster L.A.’s role in the entertainment economy.

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