Why are Alhambra candidates running unopposed?
The Chinese language newspaper World Journal (世界日報) reports on how Alhambra City Council elections for two council and three school board members running unopposed will be canceled, and probes the question of how Chinese residents feel about civic participation.
Ma Huang Siming, the chairman of the Alhambra Chinese Association, told the World Journal that Alhambra residents are generally not very interested in politics. She said that "the current officials are doing a good job and there is no need for the public to challenge and criticize them."
Alhambra Councilman Stephen Sham confirmed citizens' participation in elections has been low in the past few years. The entire municipal election was canceled in 2010 when all candidates up for reelection ran unopposed. Voter turnout is also an issue. Sham said that many new Asian immigrants are busy making a living and do not have the leisure to participate in politics. Other reasons include lack of understanding of the political system and not being a citizen.
Sham also believes that low rates of participation may mean happy citizens. He explained that most of the people who participate in elections aim to improve their city's shortcomings or public policy, but Alhambra residents have little complaints since the city is making progress on library services, road infrastructure, parks, business development, and other local government services. Sham encouraged Alhambra residents to take part in politics and public service. He advised those who want to run for office to start doing community service to gain political experience.
The article also cites an Alhambra Source survey, which finds that low public participation in elections is due to residents not knowing how to run for office and being satisfied with the way the city is run. Only a small number of people think residents do not care or that they lack the time or resources.