Meet the candidates for the 2020 City Council election
By Galen Patterson
2020’s Arcadia City Council elections are just around the corner. Two seats in two districts are up for grabs, but the final candidates are in. Each district has two contenders.
Incumbent: April Verlato
Currently serving as mayor of Arcadia, Verlato is completing her first term on the council. She is an Arcadia native and currently operates a law practice in Downtown Arcadia.
From her law office in Downtown Arcadia, Verlato is situated near the Gold Line, which is a preferred method of transportation for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County. Homelessness is becoming a growing problem in Arcadia, and Verlato has already begun getting funding to help deal with it. She wants to continue her work with the homeless in her next term.
The Citizens Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) has created a 10-year plan to deal with the problem of unfunded pensions in Arcadia. Verlato wants to be on the council to ensure the plan is adopted to pay down the debt. “I want to be able to position the city to handle that,” she said. Verlato says the CFAC plan is innovative and really addresses the growing problem which was created in the 1990s.
Maintain Good Development Standards
Verlato says development projects in the city are becoming more complex and complicated. Creating, implementing and enforcing new standards for the future are important issues for her.
Challenger: Yuli J. Sira
Despite Arcadia Weekly’s repeated and numerous attempts to contact Sira, she could not be reached.
Incumbent: Peter Amundson
Amundson is a three-term, two-time mayor of Arcadia. He is a native of the city and considers it an honor to serve his hometown. “It’s my hometown, it’s my area, nobody knows it better than me,” he said.
Amundson is very clear that public safety is his top-most priority on the council. “To me, that’s the number one responsibility of local government,” he said. Amundson says he takes time to analyze the police and fire departments of Arcadia, to determine whether or not they are the best they can be and occasionally expresses his gratitude for the work they do during his comments at council meetings.
Keeping Power at the Local Level
Amundson is a strong advocate for keeping power localized and stopping Sacramento from encroaching on Arcadia’s city charter, which legally allows Arcadia to operate under its own laws, making the legal system more flexible as opposed to the more broad general law of the state.
Bringing Arcadia Together
“You have to think of Arcadia as a whole, and focus on the issues of your district,” Amundson told Arcadia Weekly. Throughout his time on the council and at the helm of the city, Amundson’s goals have remained the same. One of his top priorities is “trying to bring us together into one Arcadia.”
Challenger: Paul P. Cheng
Paul Cheng is a practicing attorney, operating a law firm in Pasadena. He moved to Arcadia after his father died and his family was looking for a new place to start fresh. “The people in Arcadia treated us like family,” he said. He has run for City Council once before in 2010.
Paul says District 4 has many empty homes. He wants to crack down on “baby houses” where visitors give birth to “anchor babies.” Cheng says some of the houses are used for illegal drug cultivation and manufacturing.
Southern Arcadia sees its fair share of coyote problems, which jeopardizes the lives of small children and pets. Arcadia has previously tried to hire a contractor to remove the coyotes, but was threatened with a lawsuit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and voted to not hire the contractor. Paul Cheng wants to find a solution to the coyote problem.
Traffic and Infrastructure
Cheng says the infrastructure in southern Arcadia has not caught up with the new homes in the area, causing streets to be used as racetracks at night because of few traffic lights, low lighting, and a lack of sidewalks leading to lower pedestrian movement. Cheng wants to upgrade southern Arcadia to make it safer.
Measure A created a well needed projected income for the city, but Cheng is not convinced it is a final solution. “Is Measure A merely a stop-gap for the next council or two to deal with?” he asked. Cheng wants to find more ways to ensure Arcadia operates with the budget it needs to stay great.