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Claremont duo tackles new campaign for police station bond

Claremont will be going to the polls this summer to vote on a police station bond measure, and two Claremonters will spearhead the campaign.

Betty Crocker, who runs the neighborhood watch program Keeping Good in the Neighborhood (KGNH), and Ed Reece, chair of the city’s police commission, are convening a committee to get the word out about the proposed station.

Ms. Crocker noted the campaign is in its “incredibly early” stages, but will blossom into something more in the coming weeks.

“Our outreach is going to evolve into a committee which will lead the message to our neighbors to the vote in June,” she said.

City spokesperson Bevin Handel confirmed the city is tentatively looking at the February 13 city council meeting to formally designate the ballot measure, though that date may change. 

“The first thing that’s going to happen would be the council introducing a resolution to accept it as a ballot measure with ballot language,” Ms. Handel said.

After that happens and the county names the measure, the campaign will be able to open a bank account and start fundraising. Fundraising sources may include neighbors, local businesses and the police officer’s association, she added.

At the December 14, 2017 meeting, the council voted to place the still-unnamed measure on the June 5 ballot.

The plan calls for a $25 million general obligation (GO) bond—a yearly payment based on a property’s assessed value—to be paid over 25 years. The 26,000 square foot, two-story building would be built on the current site of the police station at 570 west Bonita Avenue.

Both Ms. Crocker and Mr. Reece are not strangers to local politics.

Ms. Crocker was involved in the campaign for Measure PS, the first ballot measure for a new police station that was resolutely defeated at the polls in November 2015. She was also part of the 15-member police facility ad hoc committee convened by then-mayor Corey Calaycay, which met throughout 2016 and 2017 to hammer out a plan that became the new measure.

Mr. Reece served on the committee as a non-voting liaison of the police commission. He made clear that his role in this current campaign is on a personal level and not as a commissioner.

Mr. Reece and Ms. Crocker met up around three weeks ago to get the campaign going.

“No one specifically came to me and said ‘Hey we want you to do this,’ it was more organic,” he said. “It was two individuals in the committee who are passionate about what we think is important in the community.”

The details of the upcoming outreach committee haven’t been formulated yet, but the duo will spend the next few weeks figuring out the details.

Mr. Reece said they will be looking for people who are, “supportive of the measure—someone who wants to see the station built and see the quality of life that we’re used to in Claremont to continue.”

Ms. Crocker is taking lessons learned from the failure of Measure PS into a winning formula in 2018, noting even Claremonters who had voted against the measure told her a new police station was needed.

“That last project, in my opinion, I don’t believe it reflected the most current need the community was looking for,” she said.

Mr. Reece believes the community is more aware of the shortcomings of the current station, which both he and Ms. Crocker describe as unsafe and outdated. Ms. Crocker said the current station marginalizes female officers with a makeshift locker room; an issue shared by Mr. Reece, who claimed it was “not part of Claremont’s values.

“Coming into this, it’s still not going to be easy,” he said. “But I think having an educated community will provide us with more opportunity to get the message out and open our doors to continue to educate on why this is needed.”

Both Ms. Crocker and Mr. Reece remarked that the public is largely supportive of a new police station.

“The thing that I have heard from the folks is that scaling down the project and leaving it at its current location is just the winning combination, and I continue to receive positive feedback,” Ms. Crocker said.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com