LOS ANGELES: Entrepreneur Jason Hardin and Businessman and Marketing Director Major Williams are definitely the outliers and the outsiders in the Pasadena, California Mayor’s race. Besides the shared African-American heritage, they are both accomplished men rooted in their communities, and are self-made businessmen with records of success.
In my conversations with Hardin and Williams at the February 16th Pasadena Mayor’s Forum at Friendship Pasadena, I discovered that both are also opposed to the job-killing AB5, which is destroying livelihoods across California by restricting independent contractors and gig workers from seeking work that does not classify them as “employees”.
While Hardin has not been following the outrage, he is no less engaged.
He recognized that this type of law takes money out of the community, and essentially destroys small and independent businesses. Part of Hardin’s platform is to strengthen and build local businesses and entrepreneurs through creating
“a city-sponsored network and support system that helps current and future local businesses and entrepreneurs capitalize on Pasadena’s unique brand power and opportunities.”
Hardin admitted that he does not have the eloquence, the pedigree, or the ground game of the other candidates. He said he was not comfortable at these types of events, but he loves Pasadena and its people, and that is who he connects to and wants to work toward.
“I am not wealthy, nor do I possess the academic accolades that some of my opponents may have, but what I contribute to this city and the people in it is undeniable.”
This is Hardin’s second run at the office. He competed against the current Mayor Tornek in 2015, but did not get past the primary run-off.
Major Williams has followed Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher’s interviews and Twitter feed and is appalled by her crass handling of AB5, and her inability to care about the damage that she has caused in the service of union money.
Williams is a young upstart who has a background in youth counseling and building marketing enterprises and charities.
His most recent endeavors are as co-founder of Fly Kicks For Kids, a non-profit that provides sneakers to low-income kids, teenagers in need, and academic achievers, and marketing director and co-founder of Eye Heart Art and Majorprenuer, which focuses on educating entrepreneurs on how to implement successful strategies and generate passive income.
While Williams is the least entrenched of the candidates in terms of living in Pasadena, he feels this is of benefit in order to disrupt the status quo.
As opposed to relying on elected officials for oversight, Williams’ vision is to establish a residential council committee that allows residents to directly advise the mayor and city council. Williams feels that Measures I and J were ill-conceived (I agree with him), and if elected, he plans to take those funds and put them back into the community in the form of affordable housing and services.
The Benefits of Community Policing
Williams is also big on community policing and reforms to improve police-community relationships, such as a civilian oversight committee.
“The communities voice should always be heard”, he has stated in the forum and on his website.
Williams makes the strong point that two of the candidates have been key characters in the As the Rose Turns dramas for decades: Mayor Terry Tornek has had a 4-year term alongside a 10-year city council career, and Councilman Victor Gordo has been on the city’s council for an even longer stretch; yet many of Pasadena’s issues remain unresolved or have gotten worse.
So perhaps Major Williams’ fresh approach is needed, rather than voting to continue business as usual.
In this last Pasadena Mayor’s Forum, the candidates addressed questions about homelessness, mitigating traffic, and increasing prosperity for Pasadena residents. What they may fail to realize is the continuation of AB5 will only increase and further complicate these issues.
AB5 will result in the loss of middle-income residents who can no longer work as they choose, and who will move to more economically-friendly states. This law will result in homelessness, as residents affected by the law will no longer be able to afford to pay their rent or mortgage. AB5 will increase traffic because workers will lose their ability to work from home, forcing them into their cars to find work or go to a static location far away from the city center. It is yet to be determined how many Pasadena businesses AB5 has impacted because they no longer are able to hire on a 1099 basis and are unable to afford the cost of employees.
While Mayor Tornek might consider AB5 a state issue, it is the current flashpoint for anyone who is freelance, independent contractor, gig worker, or small business. AB5 works toward creating a less prosperous Pasadena constituency.
If a Mayor or mayoral candidate took a stand against AB5, it would get noticed; and may even get him or her elected.