The Alhambra Democratic Club formally endorsed city council candidates Mark Nisall and Ken Toh after a candidate forum on Wednesday night.
Both Nisall, a retired law enforcement officer and court manager, who is running for the third district, and Toh, a retired fire inspector, who is running for the fourth, were perceived as candidates who weren’t too closely connected to the current city council, and would therefore bring change to Alhambra, as club members told the Alhambra Source.
“They called for more transparency, more oversight, and for developers to better represent the middle class,” said founding member Adele Andrade-Stadler, via email.
Third district candidate Jeff Maloney, a lawyer for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, defended his ties to the city government, after Nisall accused him of being “beholden to the [current] city council.”
“The worst thing someone could say to me is that I have the support of Judy Chu and Mike Eng and all of the members of the city council. So be it,” Maloney said. David Mejia, who works for the LAPD’s Internal Affairs division, is running against Toh for the fourth district seat, currently occupied by Dr. Steven Placido.
Candidates speak out on the issues
All four city council candidates spoke out for more transparency and community outreach from the city council, and opposed federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money being used to build a parking structure at Almansor Park.
Both Nisall and Toh said that this money, which is earmarked for community development initiatives that benefit low-to-moderate income residents, should be used to repair streets and sidewalks, with Nisall also suggesting that the money could be used to construct a police sub-station. Toh said the money could also towards more green space with drought-resistant vegetation, and even mentioned building a dog park using the money.
Mejia wanted to use the money to bring more business to Valley Boulevard, which he said was attracting vagrants with its empty storefronts. Maloney suggested that the city use it to develop more parks, and therefore take the pressure off of Almansor Park.
Candidates also told the Democratic Club what they would do about Alhambra’s Superfund site, designated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as needing long-term cleanup of hazardous waste. Mejia called for federal grants to clean it up, while Nisall suggested more pressure to actually get the EPA funds to clean it up. Looking towards the future, Maloney said that the city should prevent types of pollution like stormwater contamination, particularly by developers.
“They should capture every drop of stormwater that falls on that parking lot, within up to a certain reasonable level, so that water’s not going in the storm drain,” he said.
When asked about the grassroots efforts they were engaging in to improve the quality of life of homeowners and renters, Maloney spoke about his work with the Alhambra Preservation Group and Mejia emphasized his efforts to empower neighbors to help each other take care of issues like graffiti and other public safety problems. Nisall spoke about his campaign as a grassroots effort against overdevelopment and rising home prices in Alhambra, and said that developers should be required to provide some housing for “middle-class working families,” every time they wanted to do business in the city.
And when it comes to preventing a future disaster, such as when Alhambra dumped raw sewage into the Los Angeles and Rio Hondo rivers from 2011 to 2013, Maloney called for better monitoring and project management, Nisall advocated for better inspections and Mejia suggested that the city save money to deal with similar emergencies in the future. Toh called for the city to hire more experts and invest in new technology to monitor Alhambra’s sewer system.