The following article appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on February 4, 2015.
Azusa council candidates tackle Gold Line, employment issues at forum – Pasadena Star-News
By Melissa Masatani
February 4, 2015
AZUSA >> The incoming Gold Line and employment were among top issues discussed Tuesday night at a Azusa City Council candidate forum.
The four hopefuls answered a dozen questions from the audience during the forum, sponsored by the Azusa Chamber of Commerce and moderated by the League of Women Voters of the East San Gabriel Valley.
Incumbents Angel A. Carrillo and Uriel Edward Macias hope to retain their seats against challengers Jeri Bibles Vogel and Diana Reyes Williams in the March 3 election.
The candidates gave two-minute opening and closing speeches, and were given one minute each to answer questions submitted by audience members.
All the candidates said they were looking forward to the opportunities the Gold Line will bring to the city. Vogel said she envisioned “mom-and-pop shops” alongside corporate retail stores like the existing Target to bring shoppers from surrounding cities. Macias said that he has been on the team focused on getting the city’s two stations ready and that the city already has been focused on creating incentives for businesses to come in as part of its transit-oriented development.
Carrillo, who echoed Macias in having served on the Construction Authority board, said the city needs to ensure that proper policies and procudures need are in place to attract businesses that will capture the interest of riders. A 20-year public transit user, Williams said the city should be fostering public input on what to do with the stops’ surrounding areas, mentioning art galleries and outdoor dining as possible features.
Employment also was a big issue for residents, as they asked about public-private partnerships as a way to bring jobs to the city. Carrillo said partnerships could be used through development, with city-owned properties being used to house businesses and create jobs. Williams said she has run a youth internship program for Los Angeles that unites teenagers and local businesses as well as government departments to host the youth for internships.
Vogel said she hopes to bring light-industrial businesses to the northwest portion of the city and would partner with Azusa Unified School District and Citrus College to help youth be job-ready. Macias said the city could continue to sponsor programs like job-shadowing and the San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program.
When asked what they would change about Azusa, the candidates had a variety of responses. Macias said it was his dream to bring a hospital to the city and that the community should take more advantage of resources available at Azusa Pacific University and nearby City of Hope. Carrillo said he would increase development in the city, mentioning the incoming hotel approved on Azusa Avenue and possibilities of Block 36, currently a parking lot at Azusa Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. Williams said she would change the makeup of the current council, since there has not been a woman on the council since Mayor Joe Rocha defeated former mayor Diane Chagnon. Vogel said she would bring a balance to development between the northern and southern ends of the city, adding that although a new gym was approved to come to the Edgewood Shopping Center on Gladstone Street and Azusa Avenue, more could be done to focus on development in that area.