Alhambra’s lack of challengers for three City Council candidates and two School Board members is a first for the city. While in the recent past candidates have run unopposed, never has an entire slate remained empty and led to the election getting canceled.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Barbara Messina, who was first elected in 1986, noted “in all my years of public office I’ve never gotten a free ride.” Her explanation for the lack of interest was a combination of the tight fiscal situation where “no one in their right mind would want to jump into this kind of nightmare,” that the current Council is doing an excellent job, and a general growing sense of apathy. “People just seem not to care,” she said. “Or they care and they figure, ‘What’s the use?’”
The empty slate is in stark contrast to the last election, in which the three incumbent City Council members up for reelection, Luis Ayala, Barbara Messina and Stephen Sham, all faced challengers. Ayala was in a crowded field of five, and Sham and Messina each faced two challengers, with Sham winning a narrow victory of 90 votes.
If the elected officials receive the 50 nominations from registered voters in their district needed to be placed on the slate, the Council will vote on canceling the November election at the end of next month.