Four candidates are seeking three seats on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council in the general municipal election to be held on March 3.
Council incumbents Leonard Pieroni and Terry Walker, LCF Public Works and Traffic Commissioner Keith Eich and former LCF Planning Commissioner Rick Gunter are running for positions that involve full four-year terms. Pieroni has been filling the revolving post of mayor.
Meanwhile, incumbent Michael Davitt is not running for his seat but will continue to serve on the council, replacing Gregory Brown, who is stepping down in 2020 with two years remaining on his term.
Because Davitt has no challengers for that position, he was appointed by the council at its meeting Tuesday to fill it when Brown exits. The action was taken during the consent calendar of the regularly scheduled meeting with three voting members present, including Davitt. Interim City Attorney Adrian Guerra said he did not believe there would be a conflict of interest if Davitt voted for himself, under guidelines from the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Davitt, Pieroni and Walker voted in favor of the appointment, and Davitt — whose own seat will be filled by the election next year — smiled after the vote but made no public comments.
The move saves the city approximately $5,000 in election-related costs, according to a city agenda report.
Brown was appointed in May 2017 after the unexpected death of longtime councilman and six-time mayor David Spence. Brown said he would not run for the position because of multiple reasons.
“I told everyone who asked when I agreed to the appointment that I was just interested in finishing Dave’s term by bringing experience from someone who had been previously elected by the citizens,” Brown — who previously spent eight years on the council — said on Tuesday. He also wants to devote more time to counseling individuals as part of his church responsibilities and spend more time with his family, which has made sacrifices so he could serve the city. Finally, he wants more flexibility in his schedule so he doesn’t feel guilty about missing meetings or responsibilities to the city.
Davitt said he wanted to run for the two-year seat because “under the current situation” it was the best option for himself and the city.
“I want to spend the next two years focusing on improving our city and delivery of services to our residents,” Davitt said in a statement. “We have made a lot of great strides over the last years and it is an honor to continue that tradition.”
The candidates running for the three open seats appear to have diverse resumes.
Gunter was raised in LCF and graduated from La Cañada High School in 1982. He earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1991 from Cal Poly Pomona and now leads the Los Angeles sports studio for HKS Architects and is the senior project manager of the SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams’ and Chargers’ future home. He spent eight years on the Planning Commission and currently serves at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church as a lector and master of ceremonies.
“I love La Cañada Flintridge and want to give back to my community in a larger way by promoting local businesses for a thriving downtown, protecting the safety of our people and property, managing an open and efficient government that responds to residents’ needs and concerns, and maintaining the culture of learning and excellence in all our schools,” Gunter said in a statement.
Eich is the current chair of the Public Works and Traffic Commission, to which he was appointed in 2018. He ran for City Council in 2017 and came in third in a race for two seats that were won by Spence and Jonathan Curtis. He applied for the vacant seat left by Spence but was passed over for Brown. He is currently an elder at La Cañada Presbyterian Church as well as vice president of product development for Legalzoom.com. He earned a master’s degree in business administration in 2009 from USC well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the mid-2000s.
Eich said he is running because he cares about LCF and the people who live in the area.
“I’m a homeowner, married to the love of my life and together raising three small children,” Eich said. “I love our community. We picked this community to grow our roots because of the focus on family and the small-town feel. I have lived in many places and know our city is special. I’d like to keep it that way.”
He added he would like to increase awareness of and engagement with the city’s services through technology and to be an advocate for a sustainable solution to the Devil’s Gate sediment removal project. He would also like to address insufficient sidewalks and unenforced street parking around local schools.
“I am an engineer who isn’t afraid to tackle complex problems, using creative ways to solve them,” he said.
Walker was first elected to the council in March 2015 after she served as a planning commissioner for three years. In 2008, she was appointed to the Public Works and Traffic Commission, on which she served for four years, including one term as chair. Since 2010, she has been the practice manager and owner of La Cañada Pet Clinic with her husband, Woody.
This year, Walker was recognized by state legislator Laura Friedman as the 43rd Assembly District woman of the year and in 2008 she was selected by the LCF Chamber of Commerce as La Cañada Flintridge businesswoman of the year among other honors.
Walker said she wanted to run for the position because she has lived, worked and volunteered in the community since 1981.
“The depth of my experience, especially during the past four-plus years on the City Council and my term as mayor, is invaluable,” Walker said. “I love our town and truly enjoy giving back to our community, and have appreciated the opportunity to serve on City Council. There is more that I hope to accomplish. I want to build on my experience and my extensive networking relationships with other governmental leaders at the state, county and surrounding communities to further effective positive change for La Cañada Flintridge.”
Pieroni, who joined the council in March 2015, has lived in LCF since 1972 when his family moved from New Jersey. He attended LCF public schools, beginning in the 1st grade, and graduated from LCHS. After a 26-year career in engineering and project management at two major Southern California-based firms, he joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he is the engineering and construction section manager. Pieroni previously served as a Public Works and Traffic Commission, is a past president of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Support Group and a member of St. Bede.
Pieroni said he is running to “continue to use my common sense, and what I’ve learned during my tenure on City Council, to work issues of importance such as public safety, protecting the small-town qualities of our city, fiscal responsibility, and supporting the business community.”
On Tuesday, March 3, voting will occur between 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
For more information, updates and links, visit cityoflcf.org/city-clerk/elections.