California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez. OD, spent more than four hours in Arcadia this morning immersing himself in local business.
His morning began at 7:30 a.m. at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards program at the monthly Networking Breakfast in the Sunset Room of the Santa Anita Golf Course. The Senator presented certificates to all four of the honorees.
At his request a few weeks ago, shortly after 9 a.m. I drove the Senator around town for 2 1/2-hours making personal stops to chat with a diverse array of local Arcadia small business owners, all Chamber members, of course, and in a small area of town so that we could visit as many as possible in the allotted time. (Full photo gallery at bottom of story.)
We first stopped at the relatively new Taza: A Social Coffee House on Huntington Drive, just west of Santa Anita, where the Senator enjoyed what he said was the best cappuccino he ever tasted, and a waffle that was so equally delicious that he ate more bites than he intended. The Senator had an informative chat with owner Sonny Mediana about his experiences, challenges, and successes with the shop that opened last year.
We then headed to visit the Arroyo Plumbing shop on Santa Anita Avenue of former Chamber President Kevin Zimmerman, where Hernandez learned about Zimmerman’s views on the challenges of competing against project bidders who may not always have all the proper insurance and permits required, as well as a challenge of getting relief for the significant damage caused to his office electronics by a blown transformer last fall. The Senator promised to look into the transformer issue.
Third stop on the tour was at The Executive Factor on Santa Clara Avenue near Third Street where owner Andrew Gregson showed Hernandez around his elegant and high-tech office spaces and services that are all for lease, along with expert marketing consulting, followed by a dialogue about the challenges in getting business owners to overcome their resistance to spending money to promote their business and the sometimes inherent fear of success.
Then it was on to IT Systemhouse on the northeast corner of First Avenue at Colorado Blvd where the Senator met with co-owners Kevin Lee and Richard Polanco, Jr. and discussed the challenges of a start-up service provider in getting a foot in the door with major governmental and corporate agencies, though the company recently won a contract to provide IT services with South El Monte.
As we drove past all the Gold Line bridge and station construction we entered the heart of the Downtown area and stopped at The Book Rack at 204 S. First Avenue to visit with longtime employee-turned-owner Karen Kropp about her loyal base of customers for used and new printed books and system of exchanging old books for credit. She also shared her thoughts about the efforts to revitalize the Downtown area.
Our final stop was at Matt Denny’s Ale House and Restaurant near Second Avenue on Huntington Drive where owner Matt McSweeny heads up the drive to create a Community Benefits District to revitalize and prepare the Downtown area for the coming Gold Line station. They discussed those two topics and many others, including everything from immigration reform to partisan politics.
After several months in flux last year, during which time Arcadia was without clear Senatorial representation, Arcadia was re-assigned to Hernandez’s 22nd District, which will become the 24th District next year when Hernandez will run for re-election of the realigned District that includes predominantly cities that are Latino and Democrat other than Arcadia, which is primarily Republican with a majority Chinese population.
All the business owners were appreciative that Hernandez is taking the time to become familiar with a community so different than the rest of his jurisdiction, and I have to agree with the assessment of most of them who felt Hernandez listened carefully and spoke on a very down-to-Earth level. Running his own business for more than two decades (he and his wife are optometrists), and having that hands-on experience means a lot and gives him much credibility. He is also intimately familiar with the Gold Line, being responsible for getting the current extension to end in his current hometown of Azusa. He told us that if the new L.A. Mayor Garcetti doesn’t reverse the recent rulling of Metro and fund the further extension of the Gold Line to Claremont and on to Ontario Airport, Hernandez intends to introduce state legislation to reconfigure the board make-up of Metro, giving the Mayor and Los Angeles less of a control of voting.
He also fully understands Eminent Domain, Redevelopment Agencies, and the challenges of creating business districts, and said he is open to helping any Arcadia business anytime.
It’s hard to ask more of a politician in one morning than Senator Hernandez provided to Arcadia businesses.