Sousan Elias said “I am running for mayor because I feel we need some new ideas in the city. Most of the people running the city have been doing so for more than 20 years in some capacity. I believe mixing their experience with some new ideas will be beneficial for the city and its residents.
Her experience and time in the city make her qualified to hold the position of mayor, Elias said. “I am a resident of Montclair as well as a business owner/entrepreneur in the city. I was a paralegal for over 20 years, and a notary public/certified loan document signing agent for over 10 years. My legal background and my real estate knowledge, combined with my business experience, as well as my experience dealing with the Montclair City Council and Planning Commission to get my business approved in the city, has given me valuable experience with the way the city functions. In addition, this helped me to see ways that things can be adjusted in the city to help business owners and residents. I am also on the board of the Montclair Chamber of Commerce, just installed for my third year.”
She is distinguished from her opponents, Elias said, in that “I feel that my background and my newness to the position combine to make me a better candidate. My experience as a business owner/entrepreneur gives me a better perspective regarding helping businesses thrive more in Montclair. Since I live and work in the city, I daily see the effects of decisions made by the city council and the planning commission, and believe that gives me a different view.”
The major issues facing the city, Elias said, are “traffic, employment, entertainment, affordable housing, reasons to stay in Montclair and supporting the economy of the city. More should be done to help people become aware of Montclair. As I have learned since moving here, a lot of people aren’t aware of the city.”
As to how the city’s leaders and residents should come to terms with these challenges, Elias said, “Some of this is being addressed with Montclair Place being modernized, but I feel the residents still have to leave the city to do too many things. Some of the issues are being addressed by the Gold Line coming in, which will help connect Montclair to destinations west of the city. This and the development of North Montclair to be commuter friendly will hopefully make more people aware of Montclair and possibly want to stay in Montclair. With the addition of the Canyon Club in the mall, where will the entertainers be staying? There is no motel/hotel in Montclair.”
The city can defray the cost of dealing with its major issues and challenges by simply reorienting its stance with regard to the availability of cannabis, she said.
“One good way to deal with financial challenges would be to allow marijuana dispensaries in the city,” she said. “At any time, the city is usually in the process of shutting down at least three active dispensaries, and there are usually at least three more illegal dispensaries that haven’t been discovered yet. It is costing the city a lot of money to remove these businesses, as well as manpower from code enforcement and law enforcement, and if they allowed them, they would then be able to benefit from the tax-based revenue from these businesses to accomplish more things to improve the lives of all residents.”
Her previous experience relating to government consists, she said, of being a “paralegal for over 20 years and dealing with the city to get approval to open my business in Montclair.”
Elias has lived in Montclair for seven years. She earned a bachelor of arts in liberal studies from California State University, Northridge. She subsequently obtained a certificate in corporate/litigation paralegal studies from UCLA Extension. She is self-employed. “I currently run three businesses with my business partner,” she said. “The first is Dragon’s Tale Brewery in Montclair; the second is Bourbon Squares, handcrafted chocolates; and the third is Casual Closers, a mobile notary service.
Currently single, Elias has a stepson, a granddaughter and a grandson on the way.
Elias said, “It is time for some new ideas in Montclair. I feel that my business, legal and board of directors experience will help give the city a new vision.”