Interviews With City Council Candidates

Matt Lyons

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Q: How long have you lived in La Verne?

A: “I have been living in La Verne for almost 15 years. Truth be told, I grew up in San Dimas, so I’m an immigrant from San Dimas. I knew pretty well the community, having grown up in the San Dimas Canyon Area. When my wife and I decided to start planning  a family, we knew we wanted to come back and raise our family through the Bonita Unified School District because it is an exceptional educational experience. The decision was really easy, it was just a matter of finding the dream home.”

 

Q: What made you run for city council?

A: “In 2004, I was asked to volunteer for a retired government teacher, Dan Harden, he was a former council member in La Verne, and he was running for assembly. I knew his campaign manager, the campaign manager’s wife was a teacher of mine over at San Dimas High School, and I worked through his campaign in 2004. He was unsuccessful, but I was hooked, I really was. I got engaged at what’s called the grassroots level of activism. I stayed involved over the last decade, and it wasn’t until 2010, 2012 that I refocused locally. What happened during those two election cycles was the economic recession and what I call, the attacks on public education. School districts throughout the state were fighting for their funding to take care of our future. I refocused my political attentions from more regional/state level to more local, and at that time in both 2010 and 2012, the school board passed resolutions to protect their funding, to protect the funding for the classrooms, trying to keep the class sizes down. I approached the city council  both years, in 2010 and 2012, and I ran into what I would call a wall of silence and a realization that my voice on the current council was not there amongst the existing council members. From my 2010 and 2012 experience, I stayed engaged. My son was born in 2006, so he was now deeply engaged in the education system, and as a parent, whatever he did, I tended to get sucked in too. I got more involved, and in 2015, I decided to run myself, to add my voice to the city council. I was unsuccessful and continued to be engaged in the community and decided to run again to continue the conversation as a council candidate.”

 

Q:What do you think La Verne’s biggest problem is and how do you plan to fix it?

A: “I think one of the major issues is if you look at city manager’s summary, in the most recent budget, he comments on the structural budget deficit. A lot of residents got a mailer that talks about the state of the city and it talks about the ongoing structural deficit. When we talk about an ongoing structural budget deficit since 2010, that stresses every city service. It stresses our public safety services, our community services to our youth and seniors, and so we need to address that. I propose, and it goes back to being citizen focused, citizen driven, is a public oversight committee that can be focused on a single issue and that’s our fiscal stability. They can look at short term and long term solutions that benefit us all, that bring as many people around the table as possible. I don’t hold the monopoly on good ideas, nor do the five sitting council members or the staff at city hall, we all own community building. We all own economic development, and the invite should be ongoing for you to be engaged in a conversation. I think if the invite is ongoing and you’re at the table and more people are at the table, we’ll deliver far better solutions, not only for our problems today, but in the future as well. Addressing the budget, top line and bottom line, will benefit us all and I think we can do that through an engaging city commision.”

 

Q:What separates you from the other candidates?

A: “I have a varied professional experience. I have experience professionally in a small business environment, in a corporate environment, and I only recently transitioned to public service in 2012. My first college job was working at La Verne Car Wash as a cashier. From there, they tapped me to manage their second facility, so at the age of 22, I had the pleasure of managing a multi-million dollar gas station, very similar to the one in La Verne. That professional experience allowed me to gain wonderful life experience, but also allowed me to pay my way through college and buy my first home at the age of twenty-three. From there, I went to, what you could say, corporate America. I went to work for Allstate Insurance Company, the largest publicly held insurance company, so I know businesses small and very, very large. I’ve proven to be someone who shows up and adds value, in all of those settings. From my corporate experience, I opened up my own business as an Allstate agency owner, sold that in 2012, and then, went into public service. There’s not a single other candidate that has the experience, but I think it’s my current role as Deputy for the elected assemblyman in this area that further differentiates me. Day in and day out, I work in these communities. My geographic service area spans from San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont, Upland, and a small piece of Rancho. I work in these communities, I get a bird’s eye view of what these other cities are doing that I say is right and what I think is an area that they could work on. I can draw on their examples of what I call best practices and bring that to this city, so that we can work towards the best version of La Verne. I also have exposure to regional organizations. For example, the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, which is made up of larger interests in San Gabriel Valley. I also work with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments in my role, and that’s a coalition of the local cities. From my current position to my past, I think those experiences that I bring to the table is what differentiates me.”

 

Q: What is something voters don’t know about you?

A: “I get energized just by hanging out with my family. I work in the public life. My schedule can be quite crazy, so I find peace and grounding when I am able to just be lazy at home with my family. It recharges me. It’s no longer a secret, my wife made it public that I proposed to her at La Verne Car Wash. That has always been a fun story that I met my wife at La Verne Car Wash in fact. She got me the job there, way back when. I always joke that she had a master plan and got me the job for a reason. That’s now on facebook. I proposed to her a few years after meeting her, we went to college together and I enjoyed tutoring her in math and editing her history papers. We got married shortly before graduating from Cal Poly Pomona.”

 

Muir Davis

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Q: How long have you lived in La Verne?

A: “Most of my life. My parents are from La Verne as is my mother’s father. My dad’s dad is also from La Verne, so I’m pretty much fourth generation La Verne. My dad was working out of Illinois when I was born, so I was actually born in Illinois, but I have lived here pretty much my whole life.”

Q: What made you run for city council?

A: “It’s two fold. One is, growing up, my parents and grandparents always strived to instill a mode of service in us and that was essentially ‘you are what you do, not what you say, and actions speak louder than words.’ I’ve always grown up finding ways to help and to serve people. As a student, I would often wander the aisles and help other students with their math […] and I do that at church and I’ve done it with sports programs by being a coach or referee. When someone told me that a position was opening up on city council and asked if I’d consider running, I thought that well now is a good time to serve our city and I decided to run for city council.”

Q:What do you think La Verne’s biggest problem is and how do you plan to fix it?

A: “I don’t see them as problems. La Verne is a wonderful city and I think we get most things right, but there are a few things that could be helped. One is safety. […] I don’t think we need to continue to try and figure out how many more police officers we need to hire. We need to support our police officers by having safe communities. I think one way to have safe communities is when neighbors know each other. One way for neighbors to get to know each other is to get out of their house and walk around or ride their bicycle, so they are outside meeting people rather than in their car […] I think the more cohesive we make our neighborhoods, the safer we all become and the more support we give our police department and our fire department. That way they don’t feel like they’re stretched out. Through all that, I think we will gain more resiliency as a community and a little more togetherness as a community, because as a community, we have to support each other.”  

Q:What separates you from the other candidates?

A: “I think the fundamental piece that separates me is that one, I’m a mathematician. I’ve seen that for 50 years now, we’ve been using linear algebra to try to improve things, and don’t get me wrong, that’s been a great strategy and a great approach, but I think we’ve pretty much tapped out the linear algebra method of gaining advantage. […] What I think we need to use is a little more complex analysis to try to figure out how to take a little bit of the strain out of that communal fabric. That [way] we gain a little more resiliency, so that if there’s a little tear here and there, it doesn’t rip the whole fabric apart, it just rips a little bit and if we can release some of that tension, we gain more leeway, we gain a little more resiliency, and we gain sustainability, so that we don’t feel like we’re frazzled at the edge. I think I bring about a mathematical perspective and a complex analysis perspective that I don’t believe the others offer.”

Q: What is something voters don’t know about you?

A: “When I graduated from Bonita in 1979, I was elected ‘Most School Spirit,’ and I went on to become the mascot at the University of California, Berkeley, and the mascot is Oski the Golden Bear. My son Michael is graduating [from Bonita] this year, and he’ll be the fourth generation to graduate from Bonita.”

 

Robin Carder

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Q: How long have you lived in La Verne?

A: “I have lived here thirty-eight years. Since day one when I started, I’ve always believed you need to give back to others, so my husband and I got involved right away.”

Q: What made you run for re-election?

A: “I’ve served two terms, a total of eight years, and I chose to run one more term because there are things I still want to continue and finish. I like to finish something and be done with it, not just walk away. Some of the projects are: [building] a teen center [and the construction of the Gold Line.] I’m secretary on the board for the Gold Line that will be coming through for La Verne, and I want to see that through completion.”

Q:What do you think La Verne’s biggest problem is and how do you plan to fix it?

A: “Our biggest challenge in La Verne is obviously financing, to be able to do all the things we want to do and not tax our residents. We use creative financing, so I would like to see us hire a grant writer to work more on those and be able to look for that money that is out there from the government.”

Q:What separates you from the other candidates?

A: “I have eight years experience. The other four are new, none of them have been on a board before or elected to an official position. I have school board for nine and a half years under my belt and then I have the eight years serving here. Beyond that, I know this community, I have been involved in every aspect possible. I have owned a business, I understand the downtown business district and have been a PTA mom, tennis coach, and booster president. I have seen all the aspects of life throughout La Verne, so I feel like I truly have that experience.”  

Q:  What was your biggest accomplishment while in office?

A: “I would say the Veterans Memorial. I have been on that committee from the beginning. We had to raise the money to even get it started, and I worked hard fundraising for that. I loaned some money to the Veterans’ Committee so that we could finish and then, they payed me back. I thought that it was very important for us to get that done. I do not know if you have seen it, but it is so beautiful. I would say that is the greatest because we want our veterans to know that we support them.”

 

 

George Karr

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Q: How long have you lived in La Verne?

A: “I have lived in La Verne since I was eight years old. I’m twenty-four now, so I’m La Verne’s homegrown candidate. I started going to Oak Mesa Elementary in third grade, went to Ramona, and then went to Bonita High School.”

Q: What made you run for city council?

A: “I have a passion for politics and leadership. I was the senior class president and the treasurer [from eighth to eleventh grade.] People always remember me for being involved in leadership positions and I have a passion for leadership and representing people and I love our community, so I figured now is the time to run. It is time for young, proactive leadership.”

Q:What do you think La Verne’s biggest problem is and how do you plan to fix it?

A: “I think the issue the city is most concerned about is traffic. I plan addressing that through the Active Transportation Plan. I plan on visiting that if I’m elected to council, making sure that we have an independent commission set up that is made up of community members to find out where is traffic happening the most and what can we do with our community members’ input to fix those problems. I’d also to invite professionals who know the transportation inside and out and have them also on that commission with community members, so we have every view represented.”

Q:What separates you from the other candidates?

A: ““I think it’s the fact that I’m young. My campaign and personality is based on bringing young and proactive leadership to our city government. I’m twenty-four. I’m a JD/MBA dual-degree student. I’m almost on the verge of graduating. I have a dual degree in poly sci and economics from UC Irvine. I think it’s my young perspective, and the fact that I’m involved in our community. I’ve been raised in our community, I’ve grown up in our community, and I know our community. I can associate with the younger crowd and I can bring a new perspective to city government that hasn’t been there frankly. I represent a movement that’s based on truth, commitment, and belief. I’m ultimately about bringing young, proactive leadership to the city setting.”

Q: What is something voters don’t know about you?

A: “Aside from that I’m young, I have a diverse perspective and I have a diverse background. I know where I come from and issues that I believe in. I’m wanting to get involved in this process at such a young stage. I’m a tennis coach, that’s another fun fact that people might not know. I’m involved in our community. I volunteer as a tennis coach with the city tennis program. I’m an outgoing person, I have a great personality, and I love what I do.”

Kieth Garwick

kieth

Q`: How long have you lived in La Verne?

A: “I’ve lived in La Verne since 2008. We had been living in Azusa, we had a house in Azusa, but with the drive to La Verne, between me driving to work, my wife driving to work, three kids to three different schools at three different times, we were up to 150 to 200 miles a day just driving back and forth from Azusa to La Verne.”

Q: What made you run for city council?

A: “Something I’ve always wanted to do is public office. It’s not like I woke up one day and decided ‘Oooh hey, why not,’ it was not like that. Pretty much my entire life I’ve wanted to serve in a public office. I served as army officer for about ten years and then as a police officer for about fourteen years, and when you’re in those positions, you really can’t. I retired and started teaching at [Bonita] and the elections came around and I saw that Donna Redman was not running. There was going to be an open seat no matter what, and that was really the inspiration to go ahead and put my hat in the ring this time around. They’re going to have to pick a new councilman and I figured this would be a good opportunity to raise my hand and say I’d like to do the job.”

Q:What do you think La Verne’s biggest problem is and how do you plan to fix it?

A: “I don’t the word problems. I like the words, issues or aspects, things that are happening. Whether they are problems or not, they still need to be looked at. There is no way to get around the plight of the homeless. There is just no way to get around that. Pomona is putting in a year round, large homeless shelter that will have an impact on us. Pomona cannot sneeze without us catching a cold in a lot of ways, it’s such a large city and it’s right next to us. In addition, the AB 109 law that went into effect several years ago, which dictated that we release prisoners because of overcrowding, required that a greater number of people who had been in prison, are now out in the public. It’s actually a constitutional amendment, so it’s not going to be easy to overturn. There are more people on the streets that don’t have the type of resources that they really need to be effective as a resident here in La Verne. […] The question in my mind is, ‘What do we do to get those resources to somebody that hasn’t gone through formal schooling, that doesn’t have financial resources to get a place to live, how do we help them go from just released out of prison or homeless on the streets, or for the people just having a hard time, there has to be a better way to get access to that information.”

Q:What separates you from the other candidates?

A: “My experience. There is no question. I’m the only candidate who has served as a police officer here in the city. We have another city councilman who has been a police officer in a different city, Charlie Rosales, but to truly understand the ins and outs of what happens in the city, I think you need to have been a public safety officer here. Additionally, my experience as a traffic reconstruction analyst, so I went to reconstruction school, I’ve served as a an investigator, I understand the traffic collision issues and traffic crowding issues better than I think anyone in the city, except for another officer on the force. That’s my opinion anyways. I spent ten years as an army officer working with some very young men and women who had tremendous responsibilities put on them, some of them, seventeen years old. Now they’re in charge of weapons, they’re in charge of keeping people alive, they’re in charge of combat situations, so helping them train and helping them understand how to handle those situations. I really enjoyed doing that, which is probably why I like working at the high school so much. My area of expertise transfers to a lot of different types of abilities that the city needs, and I think that I can fulfill those.”

Q: What is something voters don’t know about you?

A: “I’m not a long term resident of the city. I grew up as a marine corps kid, so we moved around all the time. I met my wife at West Point. She’s a Claremont girl, Shari. Shari was also a West Point cadet, so we met there. For four years, every time they would resign us, 4200 to 4500 cadets, and they do a pretty good job rolling the dice and keeping everybody moving around, for whatever reason, fate, the will of God, luck, she and I ended up in the same exact unit every single time. Every time we would get orders to mix around, we would always end up in the same unit, which led us to become very close friends. When it came to time for me to really think about my relationship with her, it was one of those things where it just kind of struck me on the back of the head, like ‘You idiot, she’s been with you for four years, you’ve built this great relationship.’ So people always ask, ‘How did you meet your wife or your husband?’ We were shining shoes together.”

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