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Ready, set, go: Claremont City Council races revving up

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

What a difference a day makes.

In our Friday, August 12 edition we reported that with the cutoff fast approaching, only one incumbent city councilmember had a challenger in the November election. But by the Monday, August 15 deadline, all three incumbents had a race on their hands.

In a flurry of activity on deadline day, Aundre Johnson and Maura Carter became qualified candidates for council, meaning they had collected the 20 nominating signatures and submitted the forms to the city clerk.

As of Wednesday, Johnson had taken the next step of forming a committee and supplying the city with the necessary documents that will allow him to spend or raise more than $2,000 on his campaign. Carter had yet to file those documents.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Reece will run against former city councilmember Peter Yao in District 2, Councilmember Jennifer Stark will face Carter in District 3 and Mayor Jed Leano will go up against Johnson in District 4.

While the incumbents, and Yao, are familiar names to readers of the COURIER, less is known about Johnson and Carter.

Johnson works as a television and movie director and provided Covid safety management on the Hollywood studio lots throughout the global pandemic. He is married and has two sons currently attending Claremont elementary schools.

He was a member of the Claremont Police Station Citizens Advisory Committee formed after the first bond measure to finance and build a new police station failed. He was also a member of the No on Measure CR committee, which in November 2019 succeeded in defeating the ordinance that would have increased sales tax in Claremont by 0.75% with the money going into the general fund.

“I’m running for office to ensure that the city council focuses on increasing transparency with issues that impact our community,” Johnson said. “Likewise, I want to emphasize that the city council exists to serve all constituencies. I want to keep Claremont a safe place to live for everyone while preserving Claremont’s sense of place by maintaining the unique quality of our neighborhoods.”

Carter grew up in Claremont, attending the local public schools and the Claremont Colleges. She has “worked, volunteered, and participated in community events in Claremont,” including taking an active role in the “Keep La Puerta Public” campaign, which opposes Trumark Homes’ proposed development of the former school site at 2475 N. Forbes Avenue.

“I desire to continue the diversity, inclusiveness, and accessibility of this beautiful city. I have many long-established friends, neighbors, and associates in Claremont and value a deep sense of community. I have great respect for the intergenerational voices of Claremont. I will serve Claremont with integrity, dedication to fiscal responsibility, and commitment to safety, inclusiveness, and sustainability,” she said.

Yao vacated his position on the Claremont City Council in 2010 so that he could serve on the Citizen’s Redistricting Committee. His 10-year commitment to that body is now complete so he is refocusing his efforts to serving Claremont.

“I’m seeking another role with Claremont City Council after my prior tenure in 2010 to solve for some outstanding issues in our community. There are significant opportunities for showcasing the partnership between the city and the Claremont Colleges, and strengthening the ‘town-gown’ relationship remains pivotal in ensuring Claremont’s growth. The Claremont Colleges offer a world-renowned academic environment, and reinforcing the city’s contribution to that atmosphere will be a boon for both parties. I am also seeking to tackle the Claremont’s employee pension to ensure that our dedicated civil servants are financially protected once they retire,” Yao said.

A full profile on each candidate will be published before the November 8 election, however, in the interest of providing equal voice to the incumbents, each submitted the following statements for publication:

“I am excited to continue serving Claremont on the city council. Claremont is in a much stronger position than when I first took office in 2018. I will continue to do what I do best in this campaign and in a second term: offer a positive vision for progress, dignified and approachable leadership, and renewed focus on our biggest challenges in the next four years,” Leano said.

“Despite the pandemic, I am proud to have fulfilled my campaign promises of four years ago regarding public safety, financial stability, housing, sustainability, and transportation. I recognize there is much still to do, including addressing our urban forest, maintaining fiscal stability, enhancing public safety, thoughtful affordable housing, and more. I look forward to another four years of successful collaboration with the Claremont staff, council colleagues, and community to advance our shared vision for our hometown,” Reece said

“I am running to continue to serve Claremont because I feel a deep sense of responsibility for and gratitude to our community — one with a legacy rooted in intentional, managed planning for organized evolution and development. My hope is to take the lessons of our prior successes while also embracing the challenges and opportunities that arise from life in a complex world. Balancing the gifts of our legacy with courageous change management and forward-thinking leadership, we will be poised to face uncertainty. I believe that the democratic process is a collaborative and cooperative one, and that by centering our values around equity, sustainability, and community we all achieve a more rational chance of thriving and growing into a healthy future,” Stark said.

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