PBP: What are your plans for Northwest?
Jason Hardin: My main plan for Northwest Pasadena is extreme economic development. Gentrification wouldn't be seen as such a bad thing in our community if it focused more on empowering people, not replacing them. My initiative for economic development would include edifying local entrepreneurs and small businesses with workshops on how to succeed in Pasadena, encouraging mixed-use development projects, supporting "buy local" campaigns, and creating free and low-cost vending opportunities at our many local special events. This creates jobs and financial opportunities in the areas that need them most, resulting in less crime and more of a chance for some folks to remain living in our beautiful city.
PBP: What do you think will better link the people to the city government?
Jason Hardin: I feel there is a disconnect between the people of Pasadena and the City of Pasadena because the average resident rarely gets the chance to sit on the city council. If you cannot afford to do a lot of work for very little money, surviving while serving on the city council is very challenging, let alone actually getting elected. This is how you end up with leadership that the average resident can't relate to, and that's what breaks the link between people and the city government. My campaign is a chance to change that. If I'm elected, there will be an entirely new wave of interest in local government. More people will start showing up, paying attention, casting their votes, and letting their voice be heard, because many of them will finally believe that someone is listening with the intent to understand, not just respond. Since my last campaign, I've gotten so many people from my community paying more attention to what's going on, and that was absolutely one of my goals. More people paying attention helps hold elected officials and city staff accountable for their actions and the decisions they make, and that improves the quality of life for everyone living, working, or studying here.
PBP: How can we get more children back into PUSD and out of private and charter schools?
Jason Hardin: The reason why we have so many private schools is that during integration a lot of White parents didn't want their children attending schools with Black students. Though times have changed, and people are a bit more tolerant, the underlying tradition remains within a lot of families who have been here for generations, and we honestly have to try to break some of those traditions. As mayor, I would try to accomplish this by being an even stronger advocate for our public schools, relentlessly promoting their accomplishments, and marketing the benefits and value of experiencing diversity. Basically, to raise enrollment of PUSD, it's the parents we have to educate.
I caught up to Jason Hardin and asked him a few questions about what his plans as Mayor of Pasadena would be like.
PBP: Why are you running again?
Jason Hardin: I'm running because the leadership of this city fails to represent the best interest of the people of Pasadena as a whole. The truth is that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu, and I'm tired of us being on the menu. By "us", I mean working-class families, renters, minorities, small business owners, and those of us that send our children to public schools. Our current mayor and much of our city council members are immune to the effects of the decisions they make. They're not renters, they don't have children attending public schools, and they don't live anywhere near the poverty line. We need a mayor that is in touch with and empathetic to the needs of our entire population, and that's what I plan to bring to the office. I understand first-hand the everyday pain and struggle most of our residents endure just to stay in the city they call "home". What most of our residents go through isn't in a report I read but something I experience every single day, and that's the experience required to truly be a great mayor for the City of Pasadena.
PBP: What's the difference this time?
Jason Hardin: Since my last campaign, I've learned so much more about how politics and our local government works. My constant engagement in the community has taught me more about what our city needs and my experience on the senior commission taught me how to get things done. During my time on the commission, I was instrumental in creating standing committees on senior housing and senior mobility, and we amended the city charter to add more seats on the commission which gives seniors much more advocacy in the city's decision-making process. Getting things done is all about consensus-building and asking the right questions and presenting the right information is what makes that happen. Since the last election, I've also addressed public safety through producing a documentary film titled, "PASADENA: Exploring Solutions to Reduce Gang Violence". This film is a powerful learning tool and has screened at the Laemmle Theater, Civic Auditorium, Pasadena Central Library, Jackie Robinson Community, and Pasadena City College. I've also made a stronger effort to raise awareness for supporting home-grown businesses, organizations, and talents through the creation of my "MADE IN DENA" line of apparel. In short, I've stayed quite busy since the last election, because actively caring for this community is something, I don't need a title to do. Becoming mayor of Pasadena only magnifies the good I can do for this city.