Councilman Stephen Sham was sworn in Monday as mayor of Alhambra, replacing Councilman Steven Placido. Councilman Gary Yamauchi was also sworn in as vice mayor, replacing Sham. City Council rotates the top positions every nine months.
Following a presentation of the colors and flag salute from the Alhambra Police Department Honor Guard, Sham and Yamauchi addressed the packed council chambers about what they hope to accomplish in their terms. Placido also thanked the community for the opportunity to serve as mayor and shared highlights from his term, including the family festival "710 Day." You can read the full transcripts of their speeches below.
Incoming mayor Sham outlined his goals for the next nine months: improve public safety, increase outreach to underserved communities, improve city infrastructure, and close the 710 Freeway gap.
Sham said he would like to increase the number of Chinese-language press conferences in Alhambra to help reach more residents who get their news from the Chinese press. The city has already begun multilingual outreach with its new website, he added. "Although it’s in testing," Sham said, "you’ll be able to click and it will turn into a Spanish or Chinese version of the website where you can get a lot of information about our city."
Staff will also be working to update and maintain city facilities and equipment in the coming years, according to Sham, including renovating Alhambra parks and paving streets to fix potholes.
New vice mayor Yamauchi also spoke during the ceremony, asking the community to give him ideas for projects during his term as vice mayor. "I’m thinking of what I’m going to do," Yamauchi said. "So if you guys, girls, or young folks have any idea of something you might want to see in Alhambra, give me a call. Let me know."
I want to start this little event by saying how thankful I am to have the honor to serve as mayor. It’s a great city, we have a lot of great things happening and we five just happen to be up here as the Council. But there are many, many people and many organizations in town that do a tremendous job moving our city forward.
Recently, we got an award for most livability by Livability.com — one of the best places in the country to live. That’s not an accident. We work hard to make our town the best it can be. And while it was a surprise to us, we really work hard. All of us, the Chamber of Commerce, all the service organizations, all the staff in the city work very hard to make this town the best it can be. And from the high school students, to the school districts, to all our teachers, we all contribute in our own little way. Coaches, Little League, we have so many things going on in town that are just fantastic. It’s great to see us all come together and be recognized.
One of the highlights of the last couple of months in my term as mayor is we had our "710 Day." And we broke new ground on that event. No other city has done that before, and we had no model to follow. And we had a great event. In fact, it was bigger than we ever imagined, it was more successful than we anticipated, and we hope to have another one, let’s see, July 10th.
So until that 710 Freeway is built and all the issues are resolved, we will continue to fight and to move this freeway forward. We are doing a great job; a lot of work has been done so far. Great things are going to happen in Mayor Sham’s term in moving this freeway forward. So it’s a very exciting time. We've waited 50 years for this time in our lives and you say, “Will it ever happen?” Now is the time it’s going to happen. So please do not falter on your commitment because we haven’t. This 710 Freeway is going to be finished. And that was one of the highlights of my term.
We’ve done many, many other things as a council, as a city, and I’m very proud to have served.
Tonight my family's here. My wife Loretta and my two girls Madeline and Marie. You want to stand up and show everybody your pretty faces?
Actually, it’s a lot of fun to sit here, and to be on Council. I enjoy it tremendously. I could not do any of these things that I enjoy had it not been for the support of my family. It’s hard on all our families. It’s a big commitment from all our spouses and kids. And we’re not home sometimes to do the things that families do, fathers and moms do, and grandmothers. We are very appreciative of the time that has allowed us to serve from our families. With that, I'm going to hand it over to our city clerk and I'm going to step aside. But thank you very much.
Let me just introduce my wife Linda. For 47 fun-filled years. Forty-seven, correct? Just checking.
You know, I see a lot of my friends out here today, business associates. In fact I look at this group over here and I see a lot of Rotarians. And everybody knows I'm very active in the Rotary Club. So maybe just the Rotarians can you just wave your hand just to show your support from the Rotary Club. Thank you very much.
The Rotary does a lot of things in Alhambra that are very city conscious so thank you Rotary Club. And thank you to all the other supporters. I have so many supporters here and I'm not going to introduce them all, but I'd love to talk to you downstairs. I want to thank you for coming, but most of all I want to thank you for your support.
I’m in my third term now. This is my last, so this is the last time around. But during the last nine years, I've tried to do this job as best as I can and I tried to help the people in the city of Alhambra. And I've actually tried to make it a little fun for everybody.
What I’m trying to do in my last term as vice mayor — what happens when Stephen Sham, he becomes mayor as of today. So what does he do? Nobody tells him what to do. There’s no book that says, “OK, now you're mayor. Here’s what you do: step 1, step 2, etc.” You’re just on your own to do whatever you choose to do and all things you might want to do within the city.
So after my first term as a mayor, I was very disappointed in myself because really nothing happened. I created a sister city but that was about it. But my second term — if you recall, about two, three years ago — we had the city-wide health fair, we had the city-wide book drive, we had Alhambra Dodger Night. And we had, for all you friends who helped me out testing the cupcakes, we had a cupcake cooking contest. And that was pretty exciting in itself. … The judges had to taste like 110 cupcakes in 30 minutes. So to all the judges, thank you very much.
What I’m thinking about doing is what I'm going to be doing this year, or as mayor. A year from now when Steve steps down, Luis becomes my vice mayor. I’m thinking of what I’m going to do. So if you guys, girls, or young folks have any idea of something you might want to see in Alhambra, give me a call. Let me know. And maybe it would be the right idea. But as of now I can’t really think of anything.
But the main thing is tonight, I got supporters out here who have just done wonderful things. A lot of the things I've done, like the cupcake cooking contest and the Alhambra Dodger Night, all those things — I didn’t do them myself. I did them with the help of the people in the city of Alhambra. That’s what’s wonderful about this city. Anytime, for example, me as a mayor or as a council person, if we need something to help other people in the city, everybody is there to give that help. … And that’s just the wonderful thing about Alhambra.
Everybody in Alhambra, thank you for supporting me for the last two elections. This is my last time around and I’m going to hope to make it a good one. I’m very, very proud to be your council person in the city of Alhambra.
I'm going to introduce my wife and my daughter, Rebecca and Kristie.
We thought, "There is a problem, being able to do this." People say this is a part-time job but let me tell you, this is a full-time commitment. And my daughter, when I first got elected, she was just in Granada School and now is a junior in Alhambra High. She really grew up so fast. And it took a lot of time from me, not being with her.
Once again, it’s really an honor and privilege for me to serve as the mayor of this great community. I’d like to thank our Council, working as a team. And also our city staff led by our very capable city manager Mary Swink. We’re a good team. We have been working so hard in the past few years despite the economic downturns that we have in the nation.
As Vice Mayor Yamauchi says, "What am I going to do as mayor?" I think I’m going to focus on three particular areas. The first one and one of the most important things is public safety. As of realignment, and people will hear about it, and the new law comes down, there is a lot of pressure on our local enforcement. We are ready for it. The Chief's here. All the men and women in public safety are ready for it, and we’re equipped with the most updated, high-tech technology. We’re going to keep this community safe. We need your participation and we need your cooperation and I think we can do it. This is a very nice community and we need to keep it safe.
At the same time, we’re going to do a lot of community outreach, especially to those underserved communities. Now, I plan to have with with city staff — we’re going to do a lot more press conferences through the Chinese media so that our residents who get their information from the Chinese media can get more information services on what this city, what they can do, and what kind of services we can provide.
We already started it. We already have a couple press conferences and we're going to continue so that people can understand. One of the things that people might be are already aware of is our new website. Although it’s in testing — it’s not the final version yet — you’ll be able to click and it will turn into a Spanish or Chinese version of our website. So that gives you a lot of information about our city.
Second thing is we’re going to continue our infrastructure improvements and economic developments. I think that's very important as a city, we give back to the community by continually updating and maintaining our facilities and our improvements. One of our things we’ve recently passed is to build a parking structure in our downtown area, which can help the downtown merchants to have adequate parking for the people to come and visit us and spend money with us. Economic development is very, very important.
We are going to have funding to renovate some of our park equipment for the coming years. So, you will see new facilities, new equipment in our parks. And also obviously continue paving our streets, especially during this time. Those potholes. If you have any potholes, call us and and we will get it fixed. I promise you.
On the private sector part — and we do have a lot of investment — I would like to thank the people who have trust and would like to invest in the city of Alhambra. We’re going to work with those private parties to engage them, to help them to make a good investment in the city of Alhambra, and ensure they’re successful in the city of Alhambra. We’re going to do our best to try to include everybody who would like to invest into our community and give back to our residents.
Third that is also very important and also on the top list of our former mayor Dr. Steve Placido, is the 710 completion. That's very important. As he mentioned, that's 50 years counting and the Metro … is going to release their drafted environmental report by early spring next year. So we’d like to inform our residents so that they can participate and give their input, so they can have a complete understanding. By not having this gap closure, how much burden that we encounter each and every day for our air pollution, for traffic congestion, and for street safety.
With that, I’d like to work on this for the next few months … and hopefully, Gary will keep some of the items moving forward too. Again, I really, really appreciate the opportunity to have your support and your trust to put me in this position. And I hope that I can continue working with our council and staff. I promise you I will continue to do my best to serve you as mayor of this great community.
Thank you all for coming.