Editor's note: This is the first in a series of Q &A's with candidates for the March 8 La Cañada Flintridge City Council election.
James K. Hill is a Los Angeles County government lawyer who represents the Los Angeles County Children Services Division. The 60-year-old La Cañada Flintridge resident has lived in the city since 1973. This is his first run for public office. James is an avid desert hiker and camper and has been married to his wife Kathy for 10 years.
Question: Many would like to see a remapping of the school district to eliminate the Sagebrush issue, which, by law, forces some students on one side of the same street to attend schools in Glendale, while students across the street attend school in LCF. What would you like to see done to rectify this situation?
Answer: I know a lot of about this issue and I can tell you that it’s always annoyed me. To create second-class students who can’t go to school with their friends in the same city is ridiculous. But the map of the district was designated that way some time ago by the courts. We fought it and we lost. One way to get the boundaries redrawn is to simply put pressure on our elected state officials to introduce a bill that would first overturn that court decision, then push for a redrawing of the district map. It is not going to be an easy thing to do but I would support it 100%.
Question: If elected, what could you and the city council as a whole do to improve LCF schools in general?
Answer: I think a lot of folks don’t realize that the city doesn’t fund the schools. That funding comes from the state. In addition, the school district has its own elected board, so the city council has to be sensitive to the fact that the school board has authority and we can’t attempt to usurp them. However, we have to support them. We have continue to reinforce existing joint use agreements we now have with the school board that allow us to share resources and the costs for maintenance, such as parks and ball fields. I see it as two businesses working side-by-side, and we can always find better ways to enhance the synergy between us.
Question: What do you most oppose about the extension of the 710 Freeway, assuming you oppose it. If you support it, why?
Answer: I absolutely oppose it. I think number number one, we can’t afford it. And number two, we don’t need it. The main issue around all of this is traffic down at Valley Blvd. where the freeway now ends, at least from the city of Alhambra’s perspective. But a recent MTA study has shown that even if the freeway were extended, it would do little to mitigate the traffic concerns in that area.
Question: As a challenger in the council race, what do you bring to the table to address concerns that the existing city council is not responsive enough to community concerns?
Answer: I think it’s true that this city council really has not been responsive to the community and the theme that is coming through this is that if you have a problem and you take it to city hall you are completely ignored. I don’t think some of the council members have the political courage to come forward to challenge county agencies and servicers. We rely on our agreements with those county agencies and we have to negotiate with them on issues such as building and environmental concerns. I believe that there are going to be a lot of issues you are not going to get a compromise on when dealing with county agencies. But you have to be willing to take a position on these and argue for them. You can’t just dodge the issues.