Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pasadena Politico

In an article I almost overlooked, Los Angeles Times' writer Nancy Wride profiles the man tamed Pasadena:

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard proudly credits his landslide reelection March 6 to voters finding him effective — and dull.

"My political style," deadpanned Bogaard, 69, explaining his win of a third term with 89% of the vote, "is to actively pursue [voter] boredom."
Uh huh. Fascinating.

Seriously, though, Mayor Bogaard merits no small amount of attention. In his recent reelection campaign (an affair that managed to stir the hearts of barely 16% of registered voters), even his opponent couldn't badmouth the man.
Even in defeat, [Aaron Proctor] praised Bogaard's courtly manner and widespread appeal to Pasadena's 146,000 residents. He said Bogaard could have mocked Proctor's work experience as a video store clerk, his studded leather jacket with 22 rock band buttons, or "the fact that I wear makeup. But Bill did none of that."

Other than saying that Bogaard "is about 170 years old," Proctor added, "I really couldn't find anything wrong with Bill…. What's not to like?"
More on Proctor, shortly, but he only emphasizes the bigger point: Bill Bogaard is an exceptionally highly regarded figure. In the world of local politics, it's rare indeed that even the renegade opponent must say, "What's not to like?"

Of course, as Wride notes, and longtime Pasadena residents no doubt recall, the city was once much more, ahem, colorful when it came to political wrangling.In the late 1990s, City Council fights devolved into arguments so intense that at least one elected official publicly cussed out another. "It was not the Pasadena way," Bogaard said.

He ran for and was elected mayor in 1999 and is roundly credited with restoring what he called "old-fashioned civility" to city affairs. He was reelected in 2003 with 85% of the vote.

"He's the best I've ever seen at bringing that really balanced approach to problem-solving so that everyone feels we're doing our best," McCormick said.

"When I first came to Pasadena someone told me quite accurately, 'We have every big city problem you can imagine, but we know each other's names,' " Melekian said. That, too, should not be overlooked. Old Town is certainly in the middle of a fantastically successful revitalization, and literally every square foot of office space is being leased. Pasadena, though, must grapple with all the problems you'd can think might plague a place with more than 140,000 residents: traffic and transportation issues, terrorist and security concerns (thanks to the Rose Parade and Bowl), Bloods and Crips spilling out of Los Angeles, an affordable housing crunch, development battles (Claire Bogaard, wife of Bill, heads the nearly omnipotent preservationist society), City Hall retrofitting, the works.

And yet, due in no small part to Bill Bogaard's steady hand, the city hasn't made headlines for putting teenage girls in cuffs, acrimonious infighting over day laborers, or calling campaign aides "two baggers." I don't doubt Bogaard's sincerity and hard work, but I am curious as to how so many controversial issues seem to escape media attention. At the very least, he's gifted with diplomatic ability. Perhaps more spectacularly, it'll be the subject of a spectacular piece of investigative journalism someday: "'Dull' Pasadena Mayor Actually Kaiser Soze!"

Anyway, I said more on Proctor and here it is: a tribute video to his campaign.

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