In the run-up to the Alhambra city council elections, questions have been raised about campaign contributions some candidates have received. The Alhambra Source presents three opinion pieces on this issue. This is Sean McMorris' op-ed. Read city council candidates Jeff Maloney and David Mejia's responses to McMorris' piece as well.
All four city council candidates – Jeff Maloney, Mark Nisall, David Mejia and Ken Toh – have spoken out about over-development, transparency, and establishment politics in Alhambra. Yet campaign finance records from January 6 to October 10, 2016 (posted in full below) reveal which candidates are mostly likely to maintain the status quo of overdevelopment in Alhambra, and which candidates are less beholden to business interests.
Two candidates in this year's City Council race, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia, have amassed donations that are in large part from people or entities that I have identified as developers, city contractors, and current or potential business interests. What is more, most of Jeff Maloney’s and David Mejia's campaign contributions have come from people or business entities that reside outside of Alhambra. In contrast, nearly all of Ken Toh’s and Mark Nisall's campaign contributions have come from small donations under $99, family, or themselves. Furthermore, Toh and Nisall, as pledged, have taken zero dollars in donations from developers, city contractors, realtors, and large businesses with interests in Alhambra.
At least one of Maloney and Mejia donors is involved in development in Alhambra. They both received a $5,000 donation from an Arman Gabay of West Hollywood, which Maloney and Mejia's 497 Forms list as "Owner: Excel Property Management Services." Arman Gabay is also the founder and co-managing partner of the Charles Company; a real estate development partnership that has the same phone number and address as Excel Property Management. Charles Company has documented interests in commercially developing land on Fremont and Meridian, which includes a high density residential housing project of anywhere from 313 to 200 units that would extend into Emery Park. Gabay discussed such a project at the March 18, 2013 and June 8, 2015 city council meetings.
Here are some other findings from all four candidates’ campaign finance paperwork:
Ken Toh’s and Mark Nisall's campaigns are almost entirely financed by themselves (through loans), identified family members, and small donations, while Jeff Maloney and David Mejia's campaigns are almost entirely financed by donations over $99.
The vast majority of Jeff Maloney and David Mejia's campaign funds come from current and/or potential business interests (including identified developers and city contractors), most of which come from outside of Alhambra, while only one identified potential business interest (but no identified developers or city contractors) gave to Mark Nisall's campaign, and no identified potential business interests (and no identified developers and city contractors) have given to Ken Toh's campaign.
The majority of Jeff Maloney and David Mejia's listed campaign contributions come from sources outside of Alhambra, while the majority of Ken Toh and Mark Nisall's listed campaign contributions come from donors within Alhambra.
Both Jeff Maloney and David Mejia have accepted campaign donations from identified developers and/or city contractors, while Ken Toh and Mark Nisall have not received donations from identified developers and/or contractors.
The concern is that there are two City Council candidates, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia, might face more pressure to take business interests into account as city councilmembers, while Ken Toh and Mark Nisall, might be able to act with more independence. But don't take my word for it. Look at the campaign finance records for yourselves and make up your own minds.
With two city council members terming out this year and the other three terming out in two years, Alhambra will have a entirely new city council after 2018. It is up to you, the voters to decide what type of city council you would like to have. This is a rare opportunity for Alhambra residents. Please vote in your local election on Nov. 8, 2016.
Campaign finance records for Alhambra city council candidates, Jan. 1 – Oct. 10, 2016.