A young man exploring the beautiful natural cave that was used in Game of Thrones

Pasadena’s Game of Thrones

Whatever the design of your political sigil, be prepared for a red wedding or two.


Winter is coming and it could bring political dragon fire from top to bottom in the Pasadena area.

First up, the terms for Pasadena City Council District thrones 1, 2, 4, and 6 will expire in December 2024. There will also be a special election for the District 3 City Council throne, and the Mayoral throne is also up in December.

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”


That means the only City Council electees who can breathe easy for now represent District 5 (Jess Rivas) and District 7 (Jason Lyon).

Here are the candidates for the March 5, 2024 primary municipal election and the special election:

Pasadena Mayor & City Council

Mayor – The term for Mayor expires on December 9, 2024. This throne will be contested in the March 5, 2024 primary municipal election.

Incumbent Victor Gordo is expected to announce a re-election campaign. He is currently unopposed.

District 1 – Tyron Hampton (incumbent), so far unopposed.

District 2 – Felicia Williams (incumbent and current Vice Mayor) is planning to run for the 41st Assembly slot to replace Chris Holden, and that means she has to give up her City Council throne. Williams has amassed an impressive list of supporters. changed her mind and is now running for re-election. Perhaps her decision was partly influenced by the prodigious war chests and wardrobes amassed by other 41st Assembly District candidates, who knows. But now she’ll have to begin her re-election campaign from scratch. In other words, Williams’ natural advantage as an incumbent has largely been drained just as she’s about to enter a tough political battle to, now, keep her job.

Former Mayor Rick Cole has declared his intention to run for this throne with an aggressive, issues-based campaign worthy of a Targaryen. He and Williams are also running against engineer and Rose Bowl Operating Company Board member Aaron Milam, along with LAPD administrator and previous school board candidate Milena Albert.

District 3 – In accordance with Pasadena City Charter Section 404, there will be a special election held for District 3, which follows the appointment of Justin Jones in 2022 to fill an unscheduled vacancy due to the death of Councilmember John J. Kennedy.

The appointed term for the District 3 representative will expire on December 9, 2024. The successful candidate will serve the remaining two-year unexpired term until December 7, 2026.

Current candidates include Justin Jones (appointed incumbent), Brandon Lamar, who ran against Kennedy in 2022 earning 41% of the District 3 kingdom votes and Lucious Smith, a senior pastor at Friendship Pasadena Church.

District 4 – Gene Masuda (incumbent), running against commercial solar energy professional John Doyle and political caseworker Jonathan Horton.

District 6 – Steve Madison (incumbent), so far unopposed.

The nomination period for city council and mayoral candidates will begin on Monday, November 13, 2023 and will close on Friday, December 8, 2023. In the event an incumbent official does not file nomination papers, or fails to qualify as a candidate, by the December 8, 2023 deadline, the period to nominate any qualified person other than the incumbent is extended to Wednesday, December 13, 2023.

Pasadena City College Board of Trustees

For the Pasadena City College Board of Trustees, the current candidates are:

Area 2 – James Osterling (incumbent), so far unopposed.

Area 4Tammy Silver (incumbent), so far unopposed.

Area 6John Martin (incumbent) will be challenged by Attorney and former Pasadena City College valedictorian Ryan Liu is now unopposed in this tourney.

Musical Thrones

With a shout-out to George R.R. Martin.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors District 5

Let’s start the familiar tune with Assemblymember Chris Holden (Dem).

Holden is terming out as the Pasadena area’s 41st California Assembly District representative in Sacramento. He’s now running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors throne currently held by Kathryn Barger (Rep).

Barger doesn’t want to give up her position as one of the most powerful politicians in Southern California. And Barger is running for re-election one last time before she terms out.

This raises an interesting choice for voters…support a Republican who frequently concurs with progressives but will become a lame duck following this election, or vote for a highly qualified progressive who could potentially use a decade to establish a new legacy.

“Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick; a shadow on the wall.”


For his part, Holden has to overcome the reality that Barger is favored by regional power brokers and is one of the five all-women Supervisors.

Holden is well respected in the 41st District but doesn’t have his name plastered on every LA County property in the 5th District like Barger does. To compete with that level of name recognition and the fact that he isn’t a she, Holden will have to campaign creatively across an expansive area.

Some good news for Holden: Barger is, at her core, aligned with moderate conservative views. That may aid Holden’s fundraising in 5th District communities like Pasadena and Toluca Lake, but would likely work against him in Lancaster and Agua Dulce.

Likewise, if national political races elsewhere on the ballot entice progressives to turn out and vote in large numbers, Holden may enjoy a significant boost.

No matter how you look at the political philosophies of the candidates in the 5th District race, it’s game on.

41st Assembly District

With Holden terming out, Felicia Williams, current Pasadena Vice Mayor, wants to ease into his California Assembly throne in Sacramento. Also running for the 41st District throne is former Pasadena cop Dr. Phlunté Riddle, now a commissioner appointed to the Board of Juvenile Discharge Hearings, along with Claremont City Councilmember and immigration lawyer Jed Leano want to ease into his California Assembly throne in Sacramento.

Former Sierra Madre mayor John Harabedian (Dem) recently decided he would rather switch than fight in a bruising tournament for the 25th Senate District throne. So he’s thrown his entire wardrobe into the Assembly ring instead. Harabedian’s campaign Web site includes a high-resolution photo gallery featuring the ever-smiling candidate posed in a variety of locations and fashion options. The highlights are a red v-neck sweater, a salmon crew-neck sweater, a just-folks checked shirt, a sincere white shirt with orange tie, a blue rolled-sleeve shirt paired with casual-Friday khakis, a pink shirt with sport coat, and…whew, it’s a lot of looks.

The 41st Assembly District contest has certainly turned dynamic. However, the race may come down to who can throw the better block party now that Holden is moving on.

25th Senate District

And here’s another throne up for grabs due to term limits. This one is in the California Senate great hall in Sacramento, where Anthony Portantino is currently strategizing how to upgrade his title to “Congressperson.”

The field of hopefuls includes Elizabeth Wong Ahlers (Rep), Sasha Renée Pérez (Dem) and Yvonne Yiu (Dem).

Alhambra City Council member Sasha Pérez appears to be a fast mover and shaker with some serious progressive bona fides. Pérez touts her experience as the youngest female Mayor in San Gabriel Valley history, the youngest Latina Mayor in California history to lead a mid-sized city and the first openly-Bisexual Mayor in the country.

Rounding out the field, Monterey Park City Council member Yvonne Yiu hails from a financial management business background and Crescenta Valley Town Council member Elizabeth Wong Ahlers campaigns on “Love, Lives, Liberty, and the Rule of Law.”

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

U.S. Senate

Rep. Adam Schiff (Dem) has thrown his gauntlet into the arena to replace retiring Dianne Feinstein. Also running for Feinstein’s throne, out of a total of 23 candidates, are Representative Katie Porter (Dem), Representative Barbara Lee (Dem) and California State Senator Brian Dahle (Rep).

Both Schiff and Porter have sufficient name recognition across California to both run successful campaigns.

Lee is best known in the Bay Area and has a long history in progressive, anti-war politics. For example, Lee holds the distinction of being the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Lee has a long history of valiantly representing her Oakland-area district in Congress, but she’s largely unknown elsewhere in the state.

As a moderate-right Republican, Dahle has little chance of defeating whichever Democratic Party candidate he’ll face in the general election. Color him politically disqualified in California after taking positions like voting against SB 1327, legislation that allows private citizens to sue those who illegally sell assault weapons.

“You’re not interesting enough to be offensive.”

Brienne of Tarth

Dahle also voted against bills intended to increase access to abortion services, and he supports rolling back chunks of Proposition 47 (the Criminal Sentences, Misdemeanor Penalties initiative).

So yeah, no matter what else seems reasonable about his voting record, Dahle has little chance to defeat either Schiff or Porter.

Schiff recently re-branded himself as a convert to progressivism after previously finding success running as an institutional, centrist Democrat. But the polarization is so strong in D.C. (witness his highly political censure by the House of Representatives last week) that Schiff probably had to place a “Winter is Coming” t-shirt over the Blue Dog painting displayed prominently in his Washington congressional office.

Schiff has politically evolved to embrace a number of progressive themes, including advocating for an amendment to the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision. And he now endorses the Bernie Sanders-led Medicare-for-All initiative. But once elected to the Senate and under the right circumstances, the t-shirt could be removed.

Porter, a former college professor, single-handedly made whiteboards the most feared office supply among corporate CEOs and conservative politicians. Her “Mountain that Rides” brand is ideologically straight-line progressive, and she has the fundraising chops to get her campaign messages out.

Porter is arguably more television savvy than Schiff, and she has amassed a wide variety of supporters among her colleagues. Also, Porter is a wizard at social media with about 400,000 followers on a variety of platforms.

Both Porter and Lee have led the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Schiff recently had to withdraw his request to join.

From a practical perspective, there are no bad choices among the three leading Dem options.

The decision about which to vote for may come down to deciding which of them is best suited to perform the role of U.S. Senator. That role includes a lot of detailed committee work, plenty of time communicating with constituents, making public appearances and compromising with Senators from all parties to achieve political goals.

U.S. 28th Congressional District

Judy Chu (Dem) was elected to office in 2023. Her current term ends on January 3, 2025.

The 28th District is considered “solid Democratic” by every major political analysis organization, including The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Chu easily defeated the Republican challenger in the 2022 general election 66.2-33.8 percent. This time she’ll face former homeless guy Kerry Lewis (Rep), executive consultant Robert Lucero (Rep) and possibly others. be running unopposed after both Kerry Lewis (Rep) and Robert Lucero (Rep) quit the tourney. Neither Lewis nor Lucero will appear on the primary ballot.


Daenerys Targaryen

In his Ballotpedia candidate survey, Lewis cites these folks as examples he’d like to follow: Donald Trump, Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz and Karen Bass.

Not to shame-walk Lewis, and just reporting what he responded to Ballotpedia, here are two survey answers that pretty much sum-up the candidate:

Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?
Lewis: “NO.”
If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?
Lewis: “President Trump.”

U.S. 30th Congressional District

With the decision to run for U.S. Senate, 30th District incumbent Adam Schiff may have created the most entertaining race on the ballot. This one includes former child actor Ben Savage (Dem), California Assemblyperson and former Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman (Dem), veteran politician Anthony Portantino (Dem), over a dozen other hopefuls and trans drag queen Maebe A. Girl (Dem).

No surprise, Maebe A. Girl is a proven vote getter. In fact, they came in a respectable second to Schiff during the 2022 general election, where Girl got nearly 61,000 votes to Schiff’s 150,100.

If elected in 2024, Girl could be the first trans politician elected to Congress. They support Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-All, a Green New Deal, abortion rights, federally backed housing vouchers for the unhoused and Education-for-All.

You go, Girl!

The 30th District is not gonna change political hands, but that isn’t stopping Patrick Gipson (Rep) from campaigning on a slogan of “Pray. Fight. Win.”

The 30th is rated as “solid Democratic” by every major political analysis organization, so Gipson will need all the help he can get from the Man Upstairs if he wants to win debates with the well-prepared Girl next door…or anyone else.

UPDATE, 11-22-2023: Added CA Assemblymember Laura Friedman to 30th Congressional District tourney.
UPDATE, 10-19-2023: Incumbent John Martin has withdrawn from the PCC Area 6 tourney.
UPDATE, 9-26-2023: Removed Kerry Lewis and Robert Lucero from the 28th Congressional District tourney.
UPDATE, 8-8-2023: Added Milena Albert to the Pasadena City Council District 2 tourney.
UPDATE, 8-5-2023: Switched John Harabedian from the 25th California Senate District tourney to the 41st Assembly District tourney. Removed incorrect information about Pasadena City Council District 3 debate.
UPDATE, 8-4-2023: Added candidates for the 25th California Senate District.
UPDATE, 8-3-2023: Removed Felicia Williams as a candidate for the 41st Assembly District, added her into the City Council District 2 tourney.
UPDATE, 7-25-2023: Added Pasadena City Council District 3 candidate Lucious W. Smith.
UPDATE, 7-11-2023: With Justin Jones confirming he will run, all likely candidates for Pasadena City Council District 3 have announced their intentions.
UPDATE, 6-27-2023: Added Democratic candidate Jed Leano to the 41st Assembly District tourney.

Sheryl is Local News Pasadena's Publisher and Pasadena Media Foundation's Founder. When not saving local news, she devotes her spare time to finding the best meatloaf in town.
Email: [email protected]

Phil is the Associate Publisher of Local News Pasadena. He is a 35-year resident of the city and his favorite local delicacy is the Combo Grinder at Connal's.
Email: [email protected]

The short URL of this article is: https://localnewspasadena.com/yal9

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