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Gary Kovacic: Exercise vote

Posted April 8


As the members of our California State Champion Arcadia High School Constitution Team know, there are really very few differences in the rights and obligations between United States citizens and non-citizens.

Gary Kovacic

Most rights in the United States belong to everyone who lives here. The guarantees of equal protection and due process in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution apply to all persons, not just citizens. Similarly, all persons enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, peaceful assembly, petitioning the government for redress of grievances, trial by jury, and the many other rights set forth in our Bill of Rights.

As far as obligations, all persons have a duty to obey the laws and pay taxes. Interestingly, all males (documented or undocumented) living inside the Untied States, age 18 through 25, are also still required to register with the Selective Service.

The additional legal responsibilities and rights that apply only to citizens are few, but extremely important. For example, citizens have the responsibility to serve on juries. While some people find jury duty to be no more than a boring burden, the constitutional right to trial by a jury of one’s peers depends on the willingness of our citizens to serve as jurors when called.

Citizens have the additional right to run for public office. They also have the right, and I would argue the obligation, to cast an informed vote in elections. Failing to exercise the right to vote and fulfill the obligation to cast an informed vote is failing to live up to the fundamental responsibility of being a United States citizen.

Serving our country and community and voting are the highest forms of civic virtue. Arcadia’s mail-in City Council election ends this Tuesday, April 10. Please take the time to exercise your right to vote in this election as a concerned, informed, and productive member of our community.

I have been endorsed by the Arcadia Police Officers Association, the Pasadena Star-News, and many of your Arcadia friends and neighbors. As a City Council Member and Mayor, I have demonstrated the experience, dedication, common sense, and independence to serve Arcadia well. My leadership abilities, strong work ethic, critical thinking skills, and legal training are proven qualifications to handle the complex issues that will continue to confront our community in the future. I would be honored to receive one of your two votes in this City Council election.

Thank you for your support and your vote on or before April 10.

Posted March 25, 2012:

As many of you know, I have helped coach the Arcadia High School Constitution Team for the last 16 years. In addition to study in and out of the classroom, Arcadia High’s 30-member team practices every Monday night in the Arcadia City Council Chambers with volunteer coaches. Most Sunday nights, unit members also meet in my family room to discuss the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and relevant historical and contemporary court cases and events.

A tremendous amount of planning, work, and dedication go into preparing for the highly competitive “We the People . . The Citizen and the Constitution” program, which requires teams to analyze and answer complex questions in district, regional, state, and national rounds of competition.

In February, Arcadia High’s team won the 2012 California State Championships. In late April, the team will compete in the National Finals in Washington, D.C.

When I arrived home from this year’s California State Finals in February, a good friend asked me how the team did. With a rather proud smile, I replied that the team had won the State Championship. My friend’s immediate response was “That’s nice, but you guys win every year anyway, don’t you?”

The response was surprising.

First of all, we don’t win every year, although it may seem so since the team won both the State and National Championships two years ago in 2010. However, more surprising was the fact that such a comment seemed to take our team’s success for granted. That somehow excellence just happened.

I was reminded of this again when I opened the March 2012 issue of Sunset Magazine, a pretty good expert on life in Southern California. It was an extremely complimentary article about Arcadia that described our town as:

Tree-lined streets with tidy homes surround grassy parks and a walkable downtown that’s retained its Main Street U.S.A. appeal.

Especially during the election season, people need to take a step back to truly appreciate what we have in Arcadia. They need to understand how much vision, hard work, collaboration, and concern for our community go into creating the success we experience every day.

Elections are healthy chapters in a city’s life. They raise issues that are not always discussed and bring out people who are not always involved. But let’s not lose sight of what we have in Arcadia:

  1. Safe and beautiful residential neighborhoods

  2. Fiscally conservative budgets with adequate reserves

  3. First-class police, fire, and paramedic services

  4. The ability to respond to emergencies (like the December wind storm) with expert personnel and sufficient emergency funding

  5. Real pension reform in new contracts with the city’s bargaining units

  6. New police station, fire station headquarters, historical museum, skate board park, and gymnasium

  7. Modern public library and community center

  8. Exceptional senior and youth facilities and programs

  9. Excellent water, trash and sewer services at some of the lowest rates in the area

  10. Well-maintained roads, parks, landscaping, and other infrastructure

  11. Compatible business development

  12. City-wide residential design review and code enforcement

  13. Unique collaboration and cooperation between the city and school district

We also have honest leaders, thousands of community volunteers, and much more that enhances our quality of life. We have a great community that I wouldn’t trade with any of our neighbors.

As we experience this year’s election season, let’s not allow single issues, special interests, or political rhetoric to diminish how we view our community as a whole.

During my three terms on the City Council (and four terms as Mayor), I have worked hard and effectively for my hometown. Can we continue improve as a community here and there? Absolutely. But, we are entering a period of uncertainty with a new city manager, the demise of redevelopment, a still-struggling economy, state mandates and takeaways, our own budget challenges, and a multitude of future unknown problems. Now is not the time for on-the-job leadership training, simplistic answers, re-inventing our community, or taking our success for granted. Now is the time for experienced leadership, proven ability, and common sense to continue that success.

You have two votes in this City Council election. I would be honored to receive one of those votes.

Posted Jan. 23, 2012:

Gary Kovacic was born in Pasadena in 1951 and moved to Arcadia when he was six weeks old. He has lived in Arcadia ever since (except for his college years at UCLA).

Gary attended Santa Anita Elementary School, Dana Junior High School, and Arcadia High School (Class of 1969). He played baseball at Arcadia National Little League, was a delivery boy for Barron’s Pharmacy in West Arcadia, and spent five summers as a day camp counselor for the Arcadia Recreation Department at Wilderness Park.

From 1996 to 2006, Gary was a member of the Arcadia City Council, serving three full terms as Mayor (1998-99, 2000-01, and 2004-05) and also serving as one of the Centennial Mayors in 2003. In April 2008 Gary was elected to the City Council after taking a two-year term limit “time out.” He is currently serving as Mayor.

Prior to serving on the City Council, Gary was a two-term member of the Arcadia Planning Commission and chaired the Santa Anita Village Architectural Review Board for seven years.

When he joined the City Council in 1996, Arcadia faced substantial budget deficits. As Mayor and City Council Member, Gary helped change how Arcadia does business. Since then, the city’s accomplishments are remarkable including:

· Fiscally conservative budgets and adequate reserves · Contracts with the city’s bargaining units that include real pension reform · First-class police, fire, and paramedic services · Expert response and sufficient emergency reserves to handle the recent wind damage · Exceptional senior and youth facilities and programs · Compatible development · Superior water, sewers, roads, parks, landscaping, and other infrastructure · Increased code enforcement · Enhanced city and school district cooperation · Twice named Business Week’s “Best Place to Raise Your Kids” in California

The city also built a new police station, fire station headquarters, historical museum, and skate board park, and modernized the public library. Gary also played a leading role in creating the annual Mayor’s Bike Ride and Law Day events, beautifying the Peacock Fountain at Arcadia County Park, placing a Community Tile Tapestry on the library’s exterior wall, holding town forums, establishing city-wide residential design review, promoting volunteerism, and fostering a strong city council-school board alliance.

In 2003, Gary edited and published “Visions of Arcadia: A Centennial Anthology,” a collection of 130 essays and over 90 historic photographs about life in Arcadia. The 363-page hardcover book was unveiled on August 5, 2003, the city’s 100th birthday.

Gary’s other community activities have included service on Methodist Hospital’s Bio-ethics Committee, Congressman David Dreier’s Military Academy Nominations Panel, and the boards of the Arcadia Educational Foundation, Foothill Unity Center, and Arcadia Historical Society. Since 1995, Gary has been a volunteer coach of Arcadia High School’s award-winning Constitution Team. In 2010, the team won the national championship in Washington, D.C. He is also an active member of Arcadia’s Church of the Good Shepherd.

Gary’s past awards include being named Arcadia’s 2006 Citizen of the Year, the Lucky Baldwin District (Boys Scouts of America) Distinguished Citizen Award, the Chinese American Education Association Distinguished Service Award, the Arcadia Chinese Association City Service Award, and the AUSD “Golden Apple” Award.

In 2006, Gary chaired citizen campaign committees for Measure A (bond measure for a Gold Line grade separation at Santa Anita Avenue) and Measure I (bond measure to improve Arcadia schools). Both Arcadia bond measures passed with over two-thirds of the vote.

Gary is a partner in the downtown Los Angeles law firm of Sullivan, Workman & Dee, LLP. Since 1976, he has concentrated his law practice in the area of representing property and business owners in eminent domain, land use, and zoning matters.

Gary lives in the Village area of Arcadia with his wife Barb. Barb helps senior citizens with their daily money management issues. Their daughter Kelly teaches Advanced Placement U. S. History to inner-city high school students in San Diego. She was the 2010 California Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for 2010 National Teacher of the Year. Their son Casey is an attorney in Portland, Oregon.

Gary brings experience, leadership, and common sense to face Arcadia’s upcoming challenges including the budget, state mandates and takeaways, public safety, development, traffic, and future unknown problems. His vision for Arcadia includes:

· Safe, Beautiful Neighborhoods · Strong Police and Fire Departments · Sound Fiscal Policy · Outstanding Schools · Efficient Government · Superior Senior and Youth Programs · Sensible Development · Rigorous Code Enforcement · Volunteerism · Continuing to be hardworking, independent, reasonable, and respectful

Gary’s e-mail address is

You can also follow Gary on Twitter at @GaryKovacic


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