At least one new face will join the La Cañada City Council next year, as Mayor Steve Del Guercio won’t seek reelection, Councilman Dave Spence will, and three contenders have started the paperwork to run for office.
The candidates include 24-year-old political neophyte Joe Layton; Charbel “Charlie” Kamar, a local businessman and second-time council candidate; and city Planning Commissioner Jonathan Curtis.
Del Guercio, a member of the council since 2001, said he plans to remain active in community affairs, but has been thinking about stepping down from the council for some time.
“It’s been a great experience and a real privilege to serve on the council for 12 years, but I would like someone else to get a chance to contribute,” he said. “I’m pleased [Curtis] decided to run. He’s well qualified.”
Curtis is attempting to follow in the footsteps of former Planning Commissioner Michael Davitt, who was elected to the council last year.
Curtis is an attorney who has worked on matters involving the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority and other agencies, and said he has dealt with the “outside pressure” the city faces. A planning commissioner since 2008, Curtis said that experience has helped him craft his platform.
“We’ve got some real challenges with schools, and we can increase City Hall transparency,” he said. “We see a lot of things come through Planning Commission, where a lot of it is educating the community on restrictions.”
Kamar, an avid booster of La Cañada’s business community as well as its local schools, ran for council unsuccessfully a year ago.
Kamar said his role as a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission has given him deeper knowledge of city affairs. He was named to the commission in June.
“The last couple years I learned a lot about the city,” Kamar said. “Especially on Parks and Rec, you deal with a lot of people. You’re a messenger between the people and their city.”
Kamar owns the La Cañada Union 76 Station at Foothill Boulevard and Alta Canyada Road, and has served on the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce board of directors the past six years.
“It’s time for a businessman to represent business on the council. This is my main goal,” he said.
Layton is making his first foray into local politics at age 24.
A USC graduate who works as an accountant and a financial analyst for the Thomas Properties Group, Layton said his family moved to the city about eight years ago.
“This is a good way to become more involved in the community and merge it with my passion for politics,” he said.
“Budgeting and forecasting is something I do in my occupation, and is something I can bring to make sure La Cañada Flintridge stays on the right financial track,” he added.
Spence, a five-time former mayor, was first elected in 1992.
“I’m running to bring continuity to the council,” he said. “I have a lot of outside regional appointments that are extremely valuable and important to the city, and I want to make sure we keep a close eye on the expansion of the 710 tunnel and freeway that might affect the truck traffic in La Cañada Flintridge.”
Candidates have until Dec. 12 to file their nomination papers.