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Readers comments 10-30-20: Kathryn Dunn, politics and police

Forever grateful

Dear editor:

I express my most sincere gratitude to the many residents and readers who have made my job as editor a highly rewarding and deeply meaningful experience.

My loyalty to my hometown will not change. Although my participation will be from a different perspective, I am hopeful it will offer me an opportunity to continue to make contributions to our wonderful community.

Thank you for your letters and viewpoints, and for the many conversations both on and off the record that provided the insight needed to help bring understanding to oftentimes very complex issues.

I will remain forever grateful. I truly love Claremont, and all of you, and know we will cross paths again very soon.

Kathryn Dunn



Courser our clear choice

Dear editor:

These qualities make Zach Courser our clear choice for the District 1 Election:

1) Zach offers a progressive, yet realistic vision for Claremont.

2) Zach has a history of local volunteerism and leadership. Claremont is where he concentrates his time and talents.

3) Zach’s professional expertise and experience will allow him to analyze outcomes, both intended and unintended, of proposals that may seem clear-cut at first glance, but have far-reaching human and financial consequences.

4) Zach is diplomatic and reasoned. Greatly needed in these fractured times is his commitment to building community and creating consensus.

Please join us in voting for Zach Courser for city council, District 1. The city cannot afford to miss the opportunity to elect this uniquely qualified candidate.

Laurence Hoffmann 

Janice Hoffmann



Margiotta has unshakable resolve

Dear editor:

Margiotta leads in the right direction

Claremont’s late Peter Drucker taught that when it comes to leadership “what matters is whether the leader leads in the right direction or misleads.”

Serving together on previous local campaigns has offered us some insight into various leadership styles, as well as how our unique town responds to those styles. While we know that seeking public office requires thick skin and unshakeable resolve, what’s been eye-opening this cycle is seeing for the first time a Claremont candidate engage in willfully misleading, negative campaign tactics designed to diminish our candidate, Christine Margiotta.

A mailer with blatant falsehoods and inflammatory inaccuracies spoke volumes about the character of the candidate who produced it. It also clearly violated the “code of fair campaign practices” to which all candidates voluntarily agreed. More telling, however, was Christine’s response: she focused energy on coalition-building and earning your votes with her constructive ideas for Claremont, not on condemning an unscrupulous competitor. She eschewed the distractions of political parrying and sought out direct communication with constituents who were concerned by the libelous portrayals of her platform. She clarified the facts—Christine Margiotta values CPD and public safety for all—and she built trust with her neighbors.

 Christine knows that whatever form today’s posturing takes, the elected councilperson will ultimately have to build on what Drucker called “islands of health and strength,” and it is clear that central to her candidacy is a desire to serve our entire community. As co-chairs of the Christine Margiotta for Claremont City Council campaign we’re proud to stand alongside a candidate who leads with integrity and leads in the right direction.

We encourage you to learn about Christine and her platform at christineforclaremont.com, and to join us in voting for her.

Sorrel Stielstra and Phalana Tiller



Setting the record straight

Dear editor:

In my role as police chief, I do not get involved in political positions.  However, during recent campaigning, including a published letter to the Courier, I became concerned that the community may have been misinformed to think that the police department is establishing a program that will not hold individuals accountable for felony criminal behavior, such as that occurring at some of our local motels.  This has led to the questioning by some community members on the future of policing to be provided by the Claremont Police Department. 

The program being developed is a partnership between the police department and Tri-City Mental Health that will involve a coordinated response by a team consisting of a police officer, and two mental health practitioners.  The “team” will respond to calls for service that have, in the past, been the sole responsibility of the police department.  The type of calls that this “team” will respond to include non-violent, non-criminal situations involving suicidal subjects, those experiencing mental health crises,’ and persons who do not have a permanent home, all of which has been traditionally handled by the police department. 

The police department will continue to address criminal behavior, such as that occurring at some local motels, including attempted murders, weapon violations, drug distribution, fraud and identity theft, human trafficking, etc., through response by police officers and arrests for those involved in such criminal behavior. 

Last year, the community saw its lowest crime levels since 1985 (when statistics were first computerized). 

I, along with the entire Police Department, remain dedicated to keeping the community safe through proactive and effective policing. 

Chief Shelly Vander Veen


Naticchia sees big picture

Dear editor:

Chris Naticchia is a philosopher and as such has developed his ability to see the big picture and how all the parts within work together and are affected by outside influences.  Public education is his career and his passion and he is always reviewing its parts and working to support and improve it.  As a candidate for CUSD Board of Education, two of his concerns are teaching critical thinking skills and improving equity throughout the education system.

In today’s world we are all subject to a maelstrom of information. Chris believes we must give our children the skills and tools to analyze, reason and evaluate the information they encounter. This training should be incorporated into the elementary grades through high school.  When our children leave high school, they will be able to use evidence to support thinking, see new and better solutions, examine diverse points of view, and more.  They will be better prepared for higher education, employment, social interactions and life in the modern world.

Improving equity in the Claremont schools is another important goal for Chris.  The benefits for our students are many.  Adding ethnic studies expands the focus to tell a story from another’s perspective, changing the Eurocentric-only point of view.  Children meet new literature, new heroes.  Adding diversity to the teaching force is another of Chris’s objectives as it is important for our diverse student population to have role models who look like them.

For these reasons and more, we believe that Chris Naticchia is the best choice for Claremont School Board.

John (Jack) and Carolee Monroe                                                                               



Role of the police

Dear editor:

Earlier this year, the Democratic Club of Claremont strongly supported the nationwide move toward re-imagining the role of police in the US. We noted that that applied to Claremont also. 

A recent dispute in Claremont highlights the complexity of what that development amounts to. At the heart of this specific disagreement is the question of how best to address calls for intervention at our local motels: should our police respond as they always have or should we develop alternative methods, such as trained mental health professionals or other first responders, to intervene in non-violent situations? That question raises a further question: how might we go about devising and delivering public safety interventions that acknowledge that some situations do involve violence and some do not, and that the nature of the possible actions must be responsive to and adjustable to the situation? 

The DCC thinks the question of how to respond to troubles at motels must be debated as part of a larger public policy question. We support the perspective that police cannot solve ongoing mental health or substance abuse problems, nor should they be tasked with it. We also recognize that police are needed in specific contexts, and should be equipped to successfully and safely intervene in those moments.

We will continue to call for serious discourse and action on the larger issue of public safety. We also hold tight to the conviction that to impugn the qualifications or abilities of those defending opposite views, or resorting to personal criticism, is not the way Claremont should proceed in this matter of crucial importance.  The DCC believes that in order to be an equitable community, Claremont must address the needs of all of our residents and be open to honest, even if uncomfortable, dialogue and resist the temptation to traffic in the misrepresentation of divergent ideas or perspectives.

 Democratic Club of Claremont


Salas has the experience

Dear editor:

 I am writing about the upcoming election for Citrus College Board of Trustees.  This year, there’s a great social justice candidate: Joseph Salas.  Joe is an alum of Citrus College and a special ed teacher.  

 For the past 35 years, I have taught at the Claremont Colleges.  In that context, I have come to know and have enormous respect for Joe.  Joe has no formal affiliation with the Colleges, but because he cares about equality and diversity in higher education, he has for years been an informal support person for Muslim and Arab-American students at the Claremont Colleges.  As a faculty member at the Colleges, I know Joe has helped these students—who are so often subject to discrimination and not sufficiently supported by the Colleges’ own administrations—to have a fuller opportunity for an education at the Claremont Colleges.

I urge everyone to vote for Joe.  I am confident that as a trustee, he will make education better for Citrus students for many years to come.

Daniel A. Segal



Joe Salas is the right choice

Dear editor:

Our vote for the Citrus College Trustee has long-lasting impacts on the quality of education in our region. That's why I'm supporting Joe Salas for the Citrus board.  He's a respected teacher, Citrus alumnus and long-time Claremont activist who's given back to our community. Beyond the many endorsements, I've known Joe and his family for years through United Nations education, interfaith efforts, and justice campaigns. Joe works from his heart. Join me in voting for Joseph Salas for Citrus College Trustee. 

Mel Boynton



Calaycay is tough on crime

Dear editor:

If you support a safe Claremont, the Claremont Police Department and our amazing police chief, then Corey Calaycay should be your pick for Claremont City Council, District 1.

In a field of candidates who are calling to defund the police on some days and restrict their duties on other days, Corey has stood firm in his support for our Claremont cops.

Corey has helped to build a police department that is balanced—tough on crime, compassionate on community issues, and financially prudent when compared with other police agencies and alternate police models.

Governing is hard. Making responsible decisions on important issues like public safety shouldn’t be based on bumper sticker rhetoric.  Corey has demonstrated he makes good decisions that support a strong Claremont.

Vote Corey Calaycay for District 1.

Bill Buehler



Bollinger is always involved

Dear editor:

I recommend Laura Bollinger for Citrus College Board of Trustees.

I first worked with Laura on the Friends of the Claremont Library Board (FOCL) where I saw her create the idea of funding the remodel of the children’s room, get the FOCL Board to approve (and fund it!), then follow through with the LA County Library administration to make it happen. When they tried to make us stand in line because others were ahead of us, she persuaded the county to give us priority by asking, “How many others are offering $100,000 to help fund their projects?”  Not only was Claremont’s project moved up, Laura made sure it was done correctly. She even reviewed deliveries to make sure the right items had been sent and even sent some back.  Because of Laura we have a clean and inviting children’s room.  I saw firsthand that Laura can design and manage a project!

Laura’s AA (Citrus) and BA (Cal Poly) in business administration will be an asset in analyzing the budgets that will surely be an important aspect of what Citrus trustees will have to do. She has continued her interest in education by staying involved with Citrus College in many ways, including the Alumni Association, who honored her with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.  She now serves as president of the LA County Library Board, proving her continued interest in education and library services for all people throughout the county.

Laura Bollinger is the best person for Citrus College trustee.

Barbara Rugeley



Ceraso concerned about others

Dear editor:

Several weeks ago, hunkered down in my small house on Indian Hill, there was a knock at my door. It was Michael Ceraso. I usually am not willing to speak to strangers who come unannounced, but he introduced himself. We had a conversation about Claremont and what he was planning to do for the city if elected. He had a virtual coffee meeting with several other Westarms owners that evening.  He brought us all coffee before we started. He listened to what concerned us, true grass-roots politics. This approach is sorely needed right now. As an ex-Chicagoan, I understand how important personal politics is and can be.

I was impressed by his openness to discuss his own grappling with his mother’s mental illness growing up and the tough time he had. He had survived. I related to that because my mother was schizophrenic. Mental illness is only one issue of healthcare that needs more emphasis and exposure. This is particularly important now as a we are all isolated in our homes more than we normally would be to protect our exposure to COVID-19. When we shut down back in March, one of my greatest concerns, being a women’s studies in religion Ph.D. candidate at CGU, was the assumed rise of domestic violence toward women that might and I am sure has occurred. Michael’s own experience with mental health overall is tantamount to creating policies to deal with this issue.

His four-part campaign of COVID-19 and mental health, reimaging community safety (looking at policing and health integration), culture and community (thriving in diversity), and Village South and economic growth (expanding business opportunities) will keep our community vibrant now and in the future.

Janice L. Poss



Political tool

Dear editor:

I am disappointed in how policing has become a political tool in our country and now in the city of Claremont.  Having read previous reader comments, I see some residents and candidates want drastic change in how policing is handled in the city.  I say be careful what you wish for. One only has to look to my hometown of Minneapolis to see the ramifications of pulling back or in essence “defunding” the police.  Homicide rates there are up almost 100% year over year.  Violent crime is up 17 percent.  Is this what you wish for in Claremont? The increase of crime in South Claremont is a result of the police department having its hands tied. Prop 47, AB 109 and the no-bail policy during Covid-19 is proof that if left to its own devices, crime will go up. 

The increase in crime is not just limited to the South Claremont hotels.  We have seen a massive increase in criminals staying at ALL hotels in the area.  Most are a combination of drug users, prostitutes and individuals committing ID theft to support their habits.  They are of all races and and backgrounds.  Having seen Claremont's officers interact with many of these types of criminals, sending a counselor will do nothing except put another person at risk of potential violence.  What is needed is good policing and partnerships with mental health professionals and addiction specialists.  Police will always have to be the first on scene. How would one know if it is safe to enter a household that is having a domestic dispute?  Calls usually only come when there already is a threat of violence.  Would you want to be the unarmed social worker walking into that?  Claremont is unique in that it has its own police department and has a darn good one!  Don't react to political pressure. React in a well-planned, thought out process that doesn't open your citizens and businesses to more crime unnecessarily.

Andrew Behnke



Vote No on Measure Y

Dear editor:

Sue Keith, Claremont’s elected trustee to Citrus College, is retiring soon, and as a parting gift, she voted to saddle the median Claremont homeowner with over $5,000 of additional property taxes over the next 30 years. 

Just like the general obligation bond the city put on the ballot in 2018 to build a new police station, this bond will disproportionately affect young families and new homeowners while businesses, like Claremont Toyota, and longtime residents get huge tax breaks. 

To be clear, if Measure Y passes, a young family who recently purchased a median priced ($702k) home in Claremont will see their property taxes increase by over $175/year. And how big of property tax increase did Ms. Keith vote for herself? About $14.50/year.

And don’t be fooled by the promise that a “citizens’ oversight committee” will ensure the money is spent appropriately. Yeah, right. Just last year, we all witnessed first-hand our own city council spend $350,000 of transportation funds to renovate an art museum.

Let me repeat that. Our city council diverted $350,000 of taxes meant for transportation to an art museum renovation. How did the hand-picked, Measure M, Citizens Oversight Committee respond? They simply looked the other way. And for anyone who thinks it’s okay to go down that hole, then it’s also okay for Trump to divert $3.8 billion from the Pentagon to build his wall.

Most Claremont residents simply can’t afford a tax increase right now. Especially during a pandemic. Vote NO on Measure Y.

Matt Magilke



Margiotta is the right choice

Dear editor:

I believe that Christine Margiotta is the right choice for District 1 and for Claremont as a whole. We are living through unprecedented crises and divisiveness. To have a conversation with Christine is to be heard. Her ability to listen, combined with her experience, level head and ability to build bridges are what we need now more than ever. She wants a resilient community that thrives as the result of a shared vision of the future with regard to housing, the budget and a host of other issues on the minds of residents. She is the right person for the job at the right time.

Anne Pandey



Vote for hope!

Dear editor:

Ms. Margiotta has committed to the creation of a climate action plan for our city with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. City climate action plans are becoming the go-to process as a solution for cities in LA County to combat climate change, yet so far, none of our councilmembers have advocated for Claremont to create a CAP. Christine understands CAPs and she understands that we must strive not only for sustainability but also for a climate-resilient and regenerative city. This is the sort of proactive and far-sighted thinking that will strengthen our ability to meet and adapt to the realities of climate change. Christine’s creative problem-solving and systems-thinking approach has already resulted in productive conversations and ideas about how we can meet these challenges and move forward as a community.

For this reason—along with her love of her hometown with its trees, heritage, and PhDs—I have faith that Christine will bring the right balance of skills and vision to our city council. A vote for Christine Margiotta is a vote to move this city into the next decade ready to face its challenges. Dr. David Orr said it best, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.” A vote for Christine is a vote for hope!

Drew Ready



Vote for Ceraso

Dear editor:

After living in south Claremont for over seven years, Michael Ceraso was the first politician who talked to me. Michael wanted to hear about my worries during COVID, and my three main worries were schooling, racial equality and policing. Over the weekend, I read an endorsement for Sal Medina that caught my attention because it attacked Michael on policing. The violent crimes committed near the hotels in south Claremont are true, but the letter also displays a gross neglect of context. Michael's answer was in the context of helping people struggling with homelessness and drug addiction, not dismissing violent crimes. Claremont residents must steer clear of misleading information on candidates that are made by their opponents. We have seen how misleading information brings everything down. I suggest whichever candidate wins, we keep that candidate to their word to make Claremont better, not attack them. Michael has been running on putting the community first without attacking his opponents. That is why I endorse Michael Ceraso for District 5.

Erik Garcia



Salas has compassion

Dear editor:

Joe Salas, candidate for Citrus Board of Trustees, is a man who understands where changes need to be made. He is kind, compassionate and has a true passion and vision to do the right thing. He has extensive experience to bring growth and positive leadership to Citrus College. He walks the walk and does so without fear.

Joe is committed to hiring Black and Latinx professors and administrators to reflect the communities they serve. He sees the dire need for more crisis counselors and perhaps most importantly, he understands the importance of secure housing for students. He understands the value of regional partnerships to expand affordable housing and sees the connection between student achievement and wellbeing.

As we vote for local officials we must have leaders as passionate, as strong and as ready on the first day of office to work for everyone. Joe Salas is the right person for the Citrus College Board of Trustees. He has my vote.

Sarah Rockne



Thoughtful professional

Dear editor:

I am voting for Corey because he has worked within Claremont as well as in the region to support expansion and management of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.  Corey represents Claremont as a thoughtful professional with sensitivity to the entire region.  Claremont is not an island and Corey has trusted relationships with neighboring communities and the county from which we have gained financial support for our valuable open space.  He has supported preservation of our built environment.  We will all benefit from having Corey’s experienced leadership as the city negotiates the next period of financial uncertainty. In strong support,

Terry Grill



Ceraso listens

Dear editor:

We are writing in support of city council candidate, Michael Ceraso, who is running to represent us as well as you and all our neighbors in District 5. We met Mike two years ago when he ran for City Council the first time. He was visiting people in our neighborhood and ended up staying for almost an hour to talk, really to listen, and hear from us, his constituents. It wasn’t a tactic, it was truly him doing what he does best and getting to know the community and the needs of the people within it. Fast forward two years and there’s a knock on our door. It’s Mike! He says he’s considering running for city council and without hesitation we said “Do it!”  In fact, we happily agreed to sign his nomination paperwork because we know he can and will represent District 5 well. His campaign slogan “Community First” truly represents Mike at his core.  We supported Mike then and are proud to support him again. He will listen to us, all of us, and fight for our needs as well as the needs of the whole city all while working collaboratively with other members of the council. We encourage you to find out more about him and his plans on his campaign webpage. Mike has become our friend but that’s not why we are voting for him. We made him earn our vote (just ask him) and we hope he can earn yours too.

Amy & Oliver Weiler



Combination of qualities

Dear editor:

I write to endorse Zach Courser for Claremont City Council.

Zach has a unique combination of qualities and experience that will make him particularly effective at this critical time.

He combines an understanding of the broad picture, such as the linkage between building affordable housing and achieving a truly diverse community, with a willingness to dig in and master the details. His background as a professor of public policy at Claremont McKenna, combined with his hands-on experience, including chairing Claremont’s Traffic and Transportation Commission, enable him to envision the ideal and translate it into a realistic program.

Zach is also a good listener—one who takes the time to understand what he is hearing and why. I met Zach through the Claremont Homeless Advocacy Program (CHAP,) where I experienced first-hand his empathetic listening, and his commitment and willingness to do the research to master the details of an issue.

I had an idea and asked him if he could put it in the form of a proposal. He took out his calendar, set a date for a thoughtful conversation and followed through by writing a detailed proposal expanding upon and clarifying my original thoughts.

Recently I ran into Zach in the Village. After a lively conversation, I realized another valuable trait Zach will bring to the Council: He asks good questions, probing questions that can lead to thinking about an issue in a new way.

Katrina Mason



Salas a top-tier candidate

Dear editor:

I write in support of Joe Salas, candidate for The Citrus Community College Board of Trustees. Joe, of course, is recognized in our community. His extensive civic contributions—including his service as Vice Chair of the LA County Emergency Medical Services Commission, his stint on Claremont’s Traffic and Transportation commission, and his tour of duty on a CUSD advisory committee, among many other community involvements identify him as a top-tier candidate for Citrus’s board. I wish, however, to speak to Joe’s qualities apart from his well-known activities. That is because I have known Joe for a long time. He was a student of mine some twenty years ago at Cal Poly Pomona. He was also a member of two of the university’s award-winning National Model UN teams (for which I served as faculty advisor for many years).

Cal Poly’s NMUN program was and is a remarkable activity, attracting the very best, most socially committed students. In the spring of each year, selected students attend the National Model UN conference in New York City. This intense, weeklong simulation is the largest student-administered conference in the country, probably in the world. Successful delegates must demonstrate sound preparation, acute writing and speaking capabilities, quick wit, a sophisticated sense of humor, diplomatic talent, a capacity to understand a variety of points of view, and an ability to get along with others—useful traits for any public servant, and particularly in this tense time.

Joe was a fine student delegate, and he is still friends with other former students he met at Cal Poly and from around the world. To put a fine point on it, Joe is cosmopolitan. The way he met the demands of this extraordinary challenge, in tandem with his maturing commitment to public service, mark him, in my mind, as an ideal community representative to serve on the Citrus board. Not to belabor this theme, but I recall an exquisite one-on-one chat with Joe while we were in New York for the student conference some two decades ago. He told me at that time that his passion was public service. He used me as a welcome soundboard to meditate on the qualities and training needed to be an impactful civic leader. His wish was to make the world a better place. I savor the memory of that conversation. It helps guide my judgment in voting this November, and I invite others to join me in supporting Joe Salas.

John Moore



Qualified to guide

Dear editor:

We have now seen the last two city managers leave their offices suddenly, most recently for reasons no one will shed light on. 

One candidate claims experience and yet our collective experience in his tenure are these sudden transitions.

Another candidate, in his campaign literature, does not even consider the person now best qualified to guide our city through the coming storm.  Because he “isn’t from here”?

Claremont needs intelligent, level-headed leadership.  Now.  Claremont needs Zach Courser on the City Council.

Erik Griswold




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