La Verne residents will vote in the City Council election March 8, when challengers Roger Hanawalt, Patrick Gatti and Don Kendrick and incumbent Dan Harden will fight to fill two council seats.
Despite competition among the candidates, all share one common goal: to expand and strengthen La Verne’s own fire, police and paramedic departments.
However, each candidate would have a different approach to reaching that same goal.
“Police, fire and paramedic services are important issues because cities like La Verne are always growing,” said La Verne resident Kelly Ford, a 28 year old physical therapist who is following the election. “We need to make sure that the city services are able to meet the needs of the residents.”
Harden said in order for the services to be strengthened, the employees must be well trained and well equipped.
But the services, which account for 72 percent of the city budget, cannot be strengthened without the appropriate funds.
Harden’s plan to fund public safety services is dependent on two things: the passing of Measure S and grants from the federal government.
With Measure S, rates for the existing user’s utility tax will be increased. The current 4 percent rate will be increased to 6 percent and the current 2 percent rate will be increased to 3 percent.
“The state cuts from the last 10 years equal $13 million,” Harden said. “This year, state cuts were close to $1.6 million. If Measure S passes, we can get money back that the state took and use it for police, fire and paramedic services.”
If re-elected, Harden will also continue to look for grants.
Harden recently received a $1.2 million grant from the federal government to fund the communication department in the public safety services.
“Communication allows them to be safe getting to the crime scene, but also allows them to be safe once they are at the crime scene,” Harden said.
Challengers Gatti and Hanawalt are also depending on the passage of Measure S to fund for the improving and strengthening of the public safety services.
“It’s difficult to maintain the city at a specific level with the cuts,” Gatti said. “With Measure S, we can acquire more money to continue to pay personnel.”
Hanawalt, who has the endorsement of the La Verne Police Officers Association, is putting public safety high on his list if elected.
“It is the city’s priority to provide the citizens with public safety, but the budget is in a tight spot right now,” Hanawalt said.
With Police Chief Ronald Ingels retiring after 22 years, Hanawalt will also use the money from the passage of Measure S to hire a new police chief.
However, Kendrick has his own approach to improving and strengthening the police, fire and paramedic services.
According to Kendrick, the population of people over the age of 60 will double in the next 20 years and with that, medical and emergency calls will also increase.
Kendrick is going to gradually change and expand the public safety services, but will not use the passage of Measure S to fund for current improvements.
“I’m going to expand the services when the need comes and when the population shows the need,” Kendrick said.
Many La Verne residents, like Ford who will be voting March 8, see the advantage for passing Measure S, despite the tax rate increase.
“I’d prefer if the city can continue to look for grants, but the tax does not result in paying a whole lot more money for most people and it is going toward something good, like public safety,” Ford said.
Nila Priyambodo can be reached at email@example.com.