Councilmember Pat Van Houte confronts challenges that others ignore.
Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell, about three years ago, had police officers boot from chambers a councilmember in the middle of her speech excoriating an unconstitutional
Voters can serve up a healthy dose of poetic justice by replacing Isbell with that councilmember - Pat Van Houte.
Early voting begins Monday and ends Tuesday, May 2. Election Day is Saturday, May 6.
Of the five candidates who met with the Chronicle editorial board - two declined - only Van Houte was willing to bluntly and accurately diagnose the challenges facing
Harris County's second-largest city. Legacies of favoritism, opacity and, yes, discrimination continue to hamper progress at Pasadena's City Hall. A petrochemical boom is driving growth all across
east Harris County, yet Pasadena remains constrained by a political leadership that, as Judge Lee H. Rosenthal wrote in her recent opinion, has denied equal opportunity to all of its citizens.
Plenty of Pasadena residents certainly won't enjoy reading Rosenthal's words. Every other mayoral candidate preferred to pick up the pom-poms and cheer on the city's
blue-skies future. But discrimination is like a cancer that can fester beneath the friendly surface of civil society, from a road plan that ignores Hispanic neighborhoods to a redistricting scheme
intentionally designed to disenfranchise Hispanic voters. Structural discrimination won't go away by ignoring it. Pasadena needs a mayor who is willing to confront these challenges. Chemotherapy is
Van Houte has a record of standing up for the hard fight during her eight years on City Council - and like so much of Pasadena politics, it all began with street
Back in 2006, Van Houte was part of a successful campaign opposing a road expansion project through her neighborhood. That activism led her to represent the
northeast District D at Pasadena City Hall. Van Houte, 60, eventually worked with other representatives to block an infrastructure bond that failed to properly address dilapidated northside
neighborhoods. Mayor Isbell responded by shoving an unconstitutional redistricting scheme down Council's throat and trying to silence his opponents. Nevertheless, Van Houte persisted. She was
forced out of a City Council meeting and saw her seat redistricted away, but that didn't stop Van Houte from winning her current at-large position.
Now she wants to replace the term-limited Isbell and run a city government that's open to all of Pasadena instead of merely the well-connected. This means fairness in
contracting, competitive bidding, soliciting community input and promoting transparency. Van Houte also said that she wants to reinstate a public transit circulator for senior citizens that the city
had stopped funding.
She hasn't raised a lot of money - Van Houte declines donations from city contractors - and her personality is more cautious librarian than charismatic populist. But
there's no doubt that Van Houte as mayor would be a fresh start for a city that deserves better than its current bad press.
Voters should also take a good look at John "J.R." Moon, who has served for 10 years as a trustee for San Jacinto College. Moon, 58 is a certified public accountant and
former chief financial officer at Moody Bank, and currently works as a commercial real estate agent. He's an all-smiles chamber of commerce type who has a firm grasp on the meat-and-potatoes
issues of education and economic growth. Moon provides an outsider perspective that Pasadena needs and the resume to get the job done.
Johnny Isbell has been a part of Pasadena politics for 40 years. Voters should go with a candidate who isn't afraid to break with the past and focus on the qualities that make Pasadena a great place