Following a series of profiles on the seven candidates for San Marino City Council in the Nov. 7 election, The Outlook asked the candidates to submit their own statements reaching out to prospective voters.
Candidates were asked to keep statements within 400 words, but were otherwise given freedom on message, format and style. In the interest of fairness, as with the profiles, the statements are run in alphabetical order.
The election will fill three of the five seats on the City Council. Residents may vote for as many as three candidates and the top three vote-getters win the election. Terms are four years and there is a two-term limit. No incumbents are running.
Dr. Hai-Sou Chen
I was born and raised in Taiwan and came to America in 1976 to pursue the American Dream. I attended dental school at Northwestern University and earned my postgraduate diploma from University of Illinois. I opened my dental practice in San Gabriel in 1979. In 1982, I made one of the best decisions of my life, which was to move my family to San Marino. For the past 35 years, I’ve been blessed to live in San Marino. If elected to the City Council, I will bring a lifetime of community service and volunteerism. I have served five years on the Design Review Committee and was the chairman during the 2015 to 2016 term. I was also the president of Chinese Club in 2016. I am an active member of the San Marino Historical Society, City Club and the Rotary Club. I love our city, value the rich history of the community and sincerely want to preserve the quality of life so many generations have enjoyed for decades.
San Marino is a unique and wonderful place that deserves to be protected so that future generations can enjoy this unique community. Our city needs to be protected, and the city’s classical architecture preserved. My top priorities include strengthening our public safety, maintaining the unique architecture of our homes, working cooperatively with the school district and ensuring fiscal responsibility of the city’s budget. I think it is crucial to have more police on the streets and updated safety equipment to provide additional surveillance. I am an advocate for creating strong support and cooperation with our schools. The city and school district can work together to achieve efficiencies in operations and support each other in serving the community.
With my experience on the Design Review Committee, I will propose appointing an additional volunteer liaison unit to provide the architecture guidance and facilitate the communication for the residents prior to submitting the building plans. Having lived in San Marino for over 35 years, I have witnessed many changes throughout the years. I want to preserve the legacy that has been carried for decades and contribute to the future success of San Marino. As many residents have their children return to San Marino to start their young families, I want to keep the unique treasures of San Marino and allow for future generations to thrive and shine. I will be honored and humbled to earn your vote.
I greatly appreciate this timely opportunity to offer a status on my candidacy. Running an ethical campaign has been of utmost importance for my committee and for me. Endorsements have been requested only after a voter has offered to vote for me. Each endorsement has subsequently been confirmed in writing, directly by phone, or face-to-face. I hope this speaks to my character.
Our city is in a highly transitional period. A new city manager has just arrived and we have numerous administrative personnel in newly created positions. We are in the process of implementing 46 recommendations made by the Citizen Advisory Committee, on which I served. As a member and current chair of the Planning Commission, I can report that we recently prepared an historic Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance, and we are moving toward a new Historic Preservation Ordinance.
I am the only candidate with recent and extensive experience. I helped create the recommendations of the new administrative changes, and worked to define the positions. Further, if elected, I would be adamant in requesting the League of Cities training offered to new council members and mayors. One of its focus areas is “process”; that is, specifically how to work effectively as a council and move issues along to the point of a decision and not get stuck.
I am the informed and educated candidate who will quickly become an active councilperson. I have recommended a number of positive, out-of-the-box suggestions for innovative, cost-cutting measures for efficiently operating our government.
I am a strong advocate for a truly balanced budget, finally attacking our unfunded pension CalPERS liability in a viable manner, and re-instilling pride in the work of all city employees, while showcasing innovative new and cost-saving programs. “We are ONE San Marino,” and if you send me to City Hall, I will ensure that our city keeps its architectural beauty, lives within our means, and tackles the long talked-about changes that need to be implemented for ALL our residents.
My name is Scott Kwong and I am a San Marino alumnus, business owner, volunteer and candidate for San Marino City Council. I graduated from San Marino High School in 2008 and from UC San Diego in 2013. I opened my first shop in the city of Montebello in the spring of 2014 and my second shop this year in Azusa. Since then, I have created more than 10 jobs.
I am running for San Marino City Council because I want to give back to the community by addressing the issues the city is facing, improving the service it provides and preparing for any contingencies that may, or may not, arise.
If elected, I will:
• Fight the rise in crime and Sacramento’s effort to release dangerous criminals early. Empower residents by having a monthly police information meeting to update us on current criminal activities and provide security tips. We will also begin exploring the free channels that are currently available, such as NextDoor app, to facilitate communication amongst the neighbors and revive the neighborhood watch program in parts of the city where it is struggling.
• Demand that city hall is accountable to you! City council meetings will be recorded and uploaded onto the San Marino city website for residents to view at their own time.
• Keep the unique small town feel to ensure our city stays the most beautiful and most desirable city to live in the San Gabriel Valley. Preserve the rich history of San Marino architecture and continue the fight against mansionization and mixed-use housing.
• Add new technology to the city website so residents can reach city hall 24/7. Website will be more user-friendly and includes features for reporting incidents in San Marino.
• Find new ways to get the younger generation involved in our community and develop leadership opportunities for our students.
My current involvement includes:
• San Marino Trustee for Los Angeles County Vector Control
• East Meets West Parent Education Club Board Member
• Member of San Marino Rotary Club
• Advisor for San Marino High School Interact Club
• Member of San Marino City Club
• Member of San Marino Chinese Club
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me via email or visit my website to find more information:
Thank you, San Marino. Vote Scott Kwong #7 on your ballot on November 7, 2017!
Calvin Lo immigrated from Taiwan to the United States in 1992 after high school and completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at CSULA. He and his family have enjoyed living in San Marino for more than 10 years, volunteering in the schools and on many community organizations including Schools Foundation, Chinese Club, Library Foundation, Rotary Club, Rotary Charity Foundation and Traffic Advisory Commission.
As a business owner and real estate professional, Calvin has experience working with business people and city governments to solve challenging problems. He believes that every great community has its own story, and the story of our unique San Marino includes the beautiful architecture, trees, great schools and, of course, the people who make our town special.
Why does Calvin want to run?
“To Serve and to Preserve”
• To serve the citizens of San Marino and to give back to the community.
• To preserve and protect the core values that make our town so unique and wonderful, which include its rich heritage and lovely environment, sense of community, safe neighborhood and high quality of life.
What are Calvin’s goals?
• Preserving San Marino’s heritage and beautiful architecture.
• Enhancing public safety and neighborhood security.
• Maintaining healthy city finances and developing a long-term financial plan to address and reduce the unfunded pension liability.
• Improve city infrastructure and continue to provide premium services to residents.
• Encouraging community involvement and cooperation between community entities.
• Optimizing technology and creating San Marino APP to help keep community connected.
Why is Calvin Lo uniquely qualified to represent the community?
• Extensive experience as liaison between residents and city government.
• Participation and leadership in multiple community organizations.
• Expertise in successfully running small businesses, budgeting, identifying and resolving issues in operations.
• Experience in business planning and real estate management.
• Expertise in restoration and preservation of vintage buildings.
• Familiarity with neighboring cities and their governmental procedures, challenges and successes.
Calvin has a proven record of community service and leadership. He believes that a great leader is someone who listens and truly cares, is fair and compassionate and has a strong ability to carry out practical plans with a vision for the future!
Being on City Council is a great way for Calvin to continue to serve the community. With his passion, experience and knowledge, Calvin will continue to dedicate himself to making San Marino an even more exceptional place to live.
Gretchen Shepherd Romey
Gretchen wants to unite residents to preserve and protect San Marino and its unique way of life!
If elected, Gretchen will work to bring everyone in our community together to:
• Strengthen our police and unite neighbors to reduce crime
• Increase fiscal responsibility and transparency
• Address pension obligations and failing infrastructure
• Preserve our neighborhoods, trees and historic resources
After her career as an attorney, Gretchen spent the past 21 years exclusively in San Marino as a volunteer in schools, scouts and youth sports organizations, nonprofits and local charities.
If elected, Gretchen’s experience, leadership, skills, long-term dedication to our city, and her ability to bring people together along with her energetic drive will enable Gretchen to make an even greater impact for the betterment of San Marino. If elected, Gretchen will devote herself full-time to the city.
Gretchen is running independently from other candidates. She has complete integrity and extensive knowledge of city issues. Gretchen has no real estate investments (other than her family’s home) and no conflicts of interest.
Gretchen will devote her efforts on City Council to:
Gretchen will support our police and ask for greater police presence on our streets. She will fully fund all positions and specifically will use her skills to strengthen enforcement measures to ensure the greatest possible charging and sentencing of criminals involved in crimes against San Marino residents. Gretchen will work to build a united community effort and a reinvigorated Neighborhood Watch.
Preserve San Marino
Gretchen will work to strengthen building codes and guidelines, ensure they are enforced equally, and that the best people are appointed to uphold and enforce them. With community input, Gretchen will enact an appropriate historic preservation ordinance. Gretchen will focus on the preservation and maintenance of trees in front yards, along our streets, and in our medians.
Improve City Finances
As an attorney, as well as having led and served on many executive boards, Gretchen knows monthly financials and believes requiring monthly reporting by city departments will increase our fiscal stability and transparency, and make our city operate more efficiently. Gretchen will adopt a plan to prudently address our unfunded pension debt. Also, she will develop a multi-year infrastructure improvement schedule to directly benefit the residents and preserve San Marino for the future.
VOTE FOR GRETCHEN because she shares your values, has a strong voice to unite our community, and the vision for a better San Marino!
I will always treasure the experience of serving the citizens of San Marino during my tenure on the City Council from 2007 to 2015, and I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.
Currently our city has come to a crossroad with the widespread managerial personnel changes, and the retirement of three council members.
These unprecedented changes in top leadership prompt me to come forward and steward the city management through these challenging times.
I have the vision, experience and proven record to ensure forward -thinking actions.
On issues relating to Stoneman School and unfunded pension liability, I propose to sell Stoneman’s excess land along Huntington Drive for home building, use the proceeds for its renovation and paring down the pension liability, and find responsible tenants for Stoneman, using the revenue to further reduce the pension liability, while relocating the Recreation Department to the San Marino Center. I’d like to see the city appropriate funds from the city’s reserves, currently earning returns of approximately 1%, create an Irrevocable Supplement Pension Trust, earning a potential return of approximately 5-7%, specifically for paying down the unfunded pension liability.
I’d encourage the city to hire more police officers to fill the budgeted vacancies, use civilians or cadets for routine paper work to free up sworn officers for patrol duties, strengthen the neighborhood watch program and strategically install surveillance monitors to prevent burglaries.
I’d recommend the city set aside significant funds from its annual budget for infrastructural maintenance and replacement.
I support sensible historical preservation ordinances to protect the buildings with strong historical relevance and to preserve the city’s heritage, while respecting the rights of the property owners.
In addition, I’d like to see the new City Council appoint an ad hoc safety committee of retired police and fire officials to review the operations of our police and fire departments, as it did for the city’s administrative departments.
I am a longtime resident of our beautiful city, 32 years to be exact, and I pledge to leave it better than when I found it. On Nov. 7, I respectfully ask for your vote!
I’m looking forward to bringing my 40-plus years of business operating experience to the “business” of running San Marino. I think that a business orientation is what San Marino needs now and that it has been lacking on the Council.
My primary focus will be to: 1) Assure the safety & security of our residents; 2) Preserve & protect the unique character of San Marino; 3) Run San Marino more like a business.
A “business approach” to running the city is really important and would include creating a long-term strategic and financial plan. The plan would address the purpose of the City’s services and the use of the city’s assets including Stoneman School, the City Center, Crowell Library and Lacy Park. The annual operating plans would be linked to the strategic plan with goals and objectives. We need meaningful reporting disciplines for greater transparency and accountability.
We must address the $25-million unfunded pension liability, which is still growing, and create a plan to repair our aging infrastructure (estimated to be $40 million). In addition, we need to carefully craft a historic preservation ordinance and create strong residential housing guidelines to protect the character of our community.
Professionally, I have been President/CEO of six small- to mid-sized operating companies. Many were similar in size to San Marino in terms of budget and personnel. They all had operational and financial challenges. I learned how to listen, communicate, build teams, develop plans, drive sales, cut costs, increase efficiencies, make data-driven decisions and get things done. I look forward to bringing this experience to San Marino.
Cathy and I have lived in San Marino for over 30 years. We raised our three daughters, Carolyn, Kristen and Allison here. We have grandchildren attending San Marino schools. I’ve held leadership roles in the San Marino Schools Foundation, where I chaired the annual campaign and invented the yard signs. I was also president of the Foundation of San Marino Community Church and led the anniversary offering which increased giving from less than $20,000 to more than $130,000.
I earned my MBA and MPR from the University of Southern California, where I am currently director of the USC Marshall Family Business Program. I also “coach” several companies.
I believe strongly that our city is a $30-million business, and should be run more like one!
I look forward to your support.