Walker, Eich, Gunter Officially Win Council Seats; School Parcel Tax Victorious

With the results now officially certified, it is confirmed the La Cañada Flintridge City Council will have some new and familiar faces.
Councilwoman Terry Walker, city Public Works and Traffic Commissioner Keith Eich and former Planning Commissioner Rick Gunter were certified on March 27 by Los Angeles County as the victors in an election for three open council seats.
The new members will take the dais at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 7, said LCF City Manager Mark Alexander.
“The meeting will subsequently include the virtual swearing-in of Mr. Eich and Mr. Gunter and they will immediately assume office,” Alexander said in an email. “We will then have the selection of the new mayor and mayor pro tem.”
A more ceremonial swearing-in with friends and family, as well as recognition of retiring council members Leonard Pieroni and Gregory Brown, is likely to occur at a later date, Alexander said.
Meanwhile, the La Cañada Unified School District’s Measure LC passed with more than 70% of the ballots cast by registered voters in the LCUSD area in support. The parcel tax renewal needed two-thirds of voter support, or at least 66.7%, to pass.
“We are both so happy that Measure LC received such overwhelming support from the voters,” said Josh Epstein, co-chair of the measure with Matthew Weber, in a statement. “The district has always counted on the community to help make our schools the best they can be, and now with things more uncertain than ever, it is great to have a locally controlled funding source locked in place for the foreseeable future.”
The measure will continue to pay for district programs, including teacher positions. The tax is a $450-per-parcel assessment that is expected to generate approximately $2,686,500 per year, according to a district report.
A property’s assessed value would be adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index, not to exceed 3% a year.
An existing parcel tax is set at $450 per parcel per year and raises approximately $2.5 million. The renewal keeps the same $450 per parcel annual tax rate in place and the annual adjustment allows the measure to keep up with changes in the cost of living and ensure that funds remain sufficient over time, officials have said.
The current parcel tax expires in 2021 and school officials have said that more than 20 positions would be eliminated if the tax was not renewed.
Epstein said despite the passage it would be a “tough time ahead” as the LCF Educational Foundation lost a significant source of revenue this year when it had to cancel its March 21 gala in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the gala netted more than $500,000, with gross revenue likely in excess of $700,000.
Additionally, “there is little doubt that the state will be slashing budgets in the next fiscal year, so every local dollar that we know our schools can count on is another step in the right direction,” Epstein said. “It is hard to assess exactly what is next as far as helping to make sure our district will be funded to the level we know is necessary. But we have no doubt that as it always has, the community will rise to the challenge and continue to be incredibly generous and active supporters of public education.”
A majority of local voters were in favor of Measure FD, the Los Angeles County Fire Department parcel tax that would have charged 6 cents per square foot on structural improvements of up to 100,000 square feet had it passed. However, it failed to meet its two-thirds approval threshold in the countywide results. There were 4,404 yes votes and 3,326 no votes in LCF. L.A. County voters had 372,726 votes in favor and 336,075 votes against. Measure FD would have also been used used to support and improve emergency response, according to wearelacountfire.org, the department’s website for the measure.
Local voters also supported Measure R, which now gives the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission subpoena power to investigate complaints and allow the group to create a plan to reduce the jail population. It had 4,369 votes in favor in LCF with 2,582 against. In L.A. County, it passed with more than 1.3 million yes votes and 497,286 no votes.
State Measure 13, which would have approved $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, had 3,593 yes votes from LCF residents and 4,073 no votes. Countywide, more than 1 million people voted in favor while 898,167 people voted against. Included in the measure was $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities and $2 billion for community colleges. The measure was ultimately defeated.
In national races, LCF Democratic-voting residents cast 1,669 votes for presidential candidate Joe Biden, the biggest share of their votes. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who carried California, had 836 locally, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was third with 730. Warren has since dropped out of the race.
LCF Republican-voting residents cast 2,074 votes for President Donald Trump, easily the biggest share among the Republican Party primary’s candidates.

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