John J. Kennedy and Ishmael Trone -- the two remaining candidates for Chris Holden's vacant City Council seat -- each have honorable records of public service and interesting plans for the future. But the rehashing of old, previously resolved controversies involving Kennedy and Trone will do little to help voters make a choice on March 5.
Former candidate Nicholas Benson made the correct decision when he dropped out of the race last week. Benson's trustworthiness came into question due to his recent pattern of fact-bending (including lying about his educational background) which was revealed by Andre Coleman's fine reporting in the Pasadena Weekly. Trone and Kennedy, in contrast, have been under scrutiny for incidents that were adjudicated long ago.
Nearly sixteen years have passed since Trone pleaded guilty to trying to board a plane at Bop Hope Airport with a loaded handgun in his luggage. Nearly twenty years have passed since Kennedy was acquitted in what he describes as the accidental shooting of Jonathan Thomas, a young man he was mentoring. What relevance do those old, resolved cases have to the current City Council race? None that I can see.
The Kennedy campaign has accused Trone's team of anonymously circulating a newspaper account of the Thomas shooting, as well as a flier that raised questions about Kennedy's sexuality. Meanwhile, the Trone campaign accuses Kennedy's camp of fueling claims (through web postings by a private investigator who supports Kennedy) that Trone resides outside of District 3. Both Trone and Kennedy deny their opponent's accusations. But neither candidate has forcefully denounced the attacks apparently launched by supporters against their rival.
The worst problem with mudslinging is that it deprives the public of substantive debate on the issues that we need government to address. Hopefully, when Pasadena voters step into their voting booths next Tuesday, they will disregard rumor and innuendo and focus on the issues that will shape the direction for District 3 and the city in the years to come.