Pasadena Independent: Get to Know the 2017 Pasadena City Council Candidates

District 7

Candidate: Sheena Tahilramani

Education: University of California, Irvine, Bachelor of Arts; Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, Master of Science in journalism.

  1. Please describe your relationship/history with the City of Pasadena:
    I moved to Pasadena in 2012 from Washington, D.C., and of all the places in Southern California that I considered in my transition back to the West Coast, I chose Pasadena for the economic, social, and educational opportunities that it provides to residents of all ages. One lifelong community member that I recently had the opportunity to sit down with said it best, “Think of anything you could possibly want to do or be at any point in your life – you can do it all in Pasadena.”
  2. In your opinion, what is the most significant issue in your district?
    Currently, there are development projects in District 7 that have emphasized a “vision” disconnect between District 7 stakeholders and city council. As a candidate for Pasadena City Council, I believe that our vision for the city should drive progress and have an influence on everything from development projects to the types of trees that line our streets. This vision should be top of mind for every decision the city council considers and makes. Only dialogue and an inclusive planning process can drive long-term solutions.
  3. What are the City of Pasadena’s greatest strengths?
    The City of Pasadena’s greatest strengths are its people, its neighborhoods, and its character (which includes that of its neighborhoods and people). As we endeavor to create and carry out a future-focused vision for the city, it’s imperative that we preserve our character and neighborhoods and recognize the expertise of our citizens to help guide growth.
  4. What qualities distinguish you from the other candidates?
    Effective city council members must be good liaisons and engage the public in decision-making to encourage community buy-in and support for initiatives and projects. Prior to founding Pasadena-based SVN Public Relations, I worked in Washington at The White House Office of Political Affairs and then at Karl Rove & Company where I served as the company liaison to high-level clients and external organizations such as Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, Simon & Schuster, and the Harry Walker Agency, amongst others. Actions that promote transparency and foster trust in the process, along with dialogue that engages the public in decision-making, are the only way to get to long-term solutions – Pasadena’s issues are much more intricate than “YES/NO” votes on a ballot.
  5. If elected, how will your presence contribute to the dynamic of the council?
    I’ve worked in public relations long enough to know that perception is reality and we need a representative in District 7 that is willing to listen and understands when and how to pivot when local projects and initiatives run counter to public interest. My background in communications and public relations lends itself well to working with the citizens of Pasadena, our thought leaders, and businesses to make sure the needs and expectations of our community are not only met but also exceeded. As a small business owner and resident of Pasadena’s District 7, I am committed to ensuring that local stakeholders – residents and businesses alike – are contributing to the city’s economic development in a manner consistent with the best interests of our citizens and the community.

>> Read full article at Pasadena Independent

Pasadena Now: 2017 Campaign Season for City Elections Kicks Off

Displaying a widely varying spectrum of political knowledge, experience and opinions, candidates for offices of both the Pasadena City Council and Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education met Tuesday evening for the campaign season’s first candidate forum, sponsored by Pasadena based political action organization ACT, at Pasadena City College’s Creveling Lounge.

Pasadena’s upcoming primary municipal election will take place on March 7, 2017. Voters will select to fill the seats for Pasadena City Council Districts 3, 5 and 7, as well Pasadena Board of Education Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7.

>> Read full article at Pasadena Now

Pasadena Now: Tonight: City Council, School District Candidates to Meet in 2017 City Election’s First Forum

The political new year in Pasadena starts in earnest tonight when candidates for both the Pasadena City Council and Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education state their cases in the election’s first candidate forum.

The city-wide election primary will be held on March 7.

The event, sponsored by ACT — the Pasadena based non-partisan political action organization– will take place at Pasadena City College, Creveling Lounge which is in the Campus Center-Cafeteria Building CC. Building CC is located in the northwest corner of the campus near Hill Street. The PCC Faculty Association, among other organizations, is co-sponsoring the forum.

>> Read full article at Pasadena Now

Pasadena Star-News: Here are all of the candidates running for Pasadena City Council in March

Tahilramani is the co-founder of SVN Public Relations and the former chief of staff for Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff under George W. Bush.

Tahilramani pulled her papers on Dec. 9, the last day to file, and qualified on the same day.

She said in an email that she was asked frequently about her platform.

“I spoke with about many issues, including housing, development, education, innovation and returning decency to political discourse, however at the end of every conversation, I reminded them that this isn’t just my platform,” she wrote. “While my platform is important, it’s just as important for residents to voice their concerns to elected officials and know that they will be heard.”

She is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, according to her website. In her spare time, Tahilramani creates custom soy candles through the company Banter & Bliss.

>> Read full article at Pasadena Star-News

Pasadena Now: Guest Opinion | Some Thoughts on the 58th Presidential Inauguration

I had the opportunity to attend the 58th Presidential Inauguration with my parents and witness a “uniquely American” tradition that has been a cornerstone of our democracy since 1801. The next day, Washington, DC, hosted approximately half a million people for the Women’s March and over 600 sister marches around the world, including Pasadena, welcomed hundreds of thousands more. Herein is part of what makes America great—diversity of thought, diversity of opinion, diversity of ideas. The acceptance of which allows us (within 24 hours) to both usher in a new administration and speak out against the rhetoric of the 2016 election cycle, which organizers of the Women’s March say has “insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us.” In light of a very public boycott of the inauguration by elected officials across the country, I wanted to share why I decided to attend.

My father was born and raised in India and growing up he was drawn to the promise of opportunity in the United States. In July 1969, as a senior at Mount St. Mary’s School in Delhi, he shook hands with Richard Nixon during his first visit to India as President of the United States. My father later completed the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Delhi and then immigrated to the United States in 1973 (with only $8 in his pocket, as he’d often remind my brother and I growing up) to further his education as a college student at CSU Long Beach. He was on a student visa and he and my mom met while they were working at the college bookstore. It took nearly twelve years but he became a naturalized citizen in 1985. Last week, I decided to attend inauguration because I believe that inauguration is much more than a transfer of power from one administration to the next. It’s a symbolic tradition that ties us to our history—to those who have come before us and to those who have yet to come. And, it was an opportunity for my parents (especially my father) to celebrate a nation and process that coupled with a lot of hard work has provided them a wealth of opportunity.

While the inauguration ceremonies went off without a hitch, I was personally disappointed by the lack of respect shown to Democratic leaders in attendance. The inauguration crowd booed and sang lyrics from a 1960s hit single by Steam—”Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey … goodbye.” Let’s remember that these are the Democrats that showed up, unlike the 60 plus that decided to boycott the inauguration with much fanfare. I’m going to take a glass half full perspective on this and appreciate those who were able to put aside their differences for a day to celebrate the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. The inauguration ceremonies should have been an opportunity to unite a deeply divided nation in the aftermath of a grueling election cycle. And, while I respect the elected officials who decided not to attend, I wonder whether the spectacle of their resistance furthered the divide. At the same time, I understand how some might feel that the tone of President Trump’s inauguration speech may have had the same effect.

Divisive political rhetoric and discord trickles down to our communities and instead of respecting the diversity of thought, opinions, and ideas that makes America great, we become adversarial to views that oppose our own and don’t take the time to understand each other. As the saying goes, “the fish stinks from the head”—that is, our problems can be traced back to our leaders. Recognizing this, I’ve made listening a cornerstone of my campaign for Pasadena City Council because I believe we need representatives who are willing to listen and understand when their decisions run counter to public interest. As I walk the neighborhoods of District 7, I have had the opportunity to listen to many residents and I believe we need to give them the credit they deserve—they are not single-issue voters, they’re real voters. They keenly follow all of the issues that affect their quality of life on a daily basis from public safety, to growth, to quality education, and more. My hope is that our communities, including our City Council candidates, can take the lead in setting an example for elected leaders at all levels of government and I believe it starts by listening to understand, instead of listening to reply.

Sheena Tahilramani is a candidate for Pasadena City Council District 7 and is co-founder of Pasadena-based public relations agency, SVN Public Relations.

This op-ed originally appeared at on January 24, 2017.