Portantino first came to California in 1987 and club members and council members reminisced on how he embarked on a marathon door-knocking campaign to get elected to the council. He succeeded. In 1999, he was elected with 71% of the vote.
Guest speakers commended Portantino on his efforts in the community, helping local schools and forging partnerships with the La Cañada Unified School District, preserving open space and creating a trails master plan as well as establishing a Youth Council and Neighborhood council meetings.
Councilmember Stephen Del Guercio said he could verify all the work that Portantino had put into the community and joked that word of Portantino's problem-solving abilities spread very quickly, leaving him feeling a little bit superfluous.
"All the wonderful things that people have said he's done for the community are true," Del Guercio said.
"I know this because I was there and I saw him.
"When people have a problem, no matter how matter how large or small, they call Anthony ? no matter what the time of day or night ?. I felt bad about this for a very long time until I realized that when I had a problem, I also called Anthony."
When Duane Waters, from Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, got up to speak, he recalled a phone call he had on a Saturday morning from a woman who wanted to speak to Portantino.
When he asked why, she said she had a plumbing problem that she wanted him to help fix.
Mayor Greg Brown agreed that Portantino had a "ubiquitous" presence in the community and joked that the "most dangerous place in town is between Anthony and a camera" ? referring to his current campaigning effort for the 44th Assembly District seat.
Joe Thompson, president of the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce and last year's La Cañadan of the Year, befriended Portantino when he first arrived in the community with his family.
"Anthony always used to say that I was his favorite Republican and I would like return the compliment and say he's my favorite Democrat ? in fact, he is the only Democrat I have ever voted for!" Thompson said.
Portantino attended the function with his wife, Ellen, and 14-year-old daughter Sofia.
Representatives from the offices of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Reps. David Dreier and Adam Schiff, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assemblywoman Carol Liu and state Sen. Jack Scott gave Portantino certificates of appreciation.gnp-portantino25-BPhotoInfoLG1R9RO420060525h80h6ekf(LA)Anthony Portantino