LocationAlhambra , CA United States
Adele Andrade-Stadler has lived in Alhambra for most of her adult life, after growing up in Monterey Park. She’s taken part in state Democratic politics, served on the the City’s planning, transportation and HUD commission and has been on the Alhambra Unified School District Board of Education for 13 years. As part of the school board, Andrade-Stadler has championed a sanctuary district resolution for undocumented students and families, as well as using bond measures to upgrade facilities at local schools. Now, in running for Alhambra’s 5th District, she’s ready to “taking the city in a new direction,” when it comes to development, housing, immigration, parks and other issues. Read our interview with Andrade-Stadler, and take our poll on which issues mean most to you in the upcoming City Council races.
Why are you running for City Council?
I have 13 years on the school board, and many things overlap with city and school district. But not enough. I do believe that our residents and our families need more representation on the City Council.
I bring a different set of experience and skills to the Board, and I like the idea of making that transition from school district to city council. It’s very natural.
How specifically does your experience on School Board translate to City Council?
Our budget is certainly bigger than the City’s budget. Number one. And so, when you begin to look at how budgets are presented to you, you’re studying and you’re preparing for questions. That really is a very important part of what I’ve learned on the Board. And I think that will transition really well. I also think — just in the last five years alone — of the transparency that our board has asked our superintendent and the District to maintain and go beyond other districts in terms of letting families know what is transpiring with all the new laws, etc. etc.
Though I think the City has done a better job at their website and their response time to certain issues, I still believe that they can do a better job.
How are you going to fund your campaign?
I’m preparing well in advance. I started a committee, and I’m waiting to get what they call your official number for your committee. The committee has to be separate from my school district committee, so there’s no connection, so I’ve actually started the plans to do that. My first fundraiser will be in March, because when you do not take money from contractors, or folks that are vendors, you need to start more in advance, because you’re reaching out to families and you’re reaching out to friends. I plan on continuing what I’ve always done, which is reaching out to friends and family, relationships I’ve made along the way with other political folks, who’ve already come in and endorsed the campaign.
It’s better if you do not take dollars from folks that may come before you as vendors or contractors, because then you can weigh your decision and your vote and not have it be measure by the dollars. It’s very simple. Not even on the School District have I done that.
The California School Employees Association supported me, they supported me initially, and except for the first time, I was supported by the teachers and the teachers’ union.
Who are your early endorsements?
I have the early endorsement of Mike Eng, who is running for state senate. He and I go back a long way. Ms. [Sandra] Armenta from Rosemead, she’s a councilwoman. I have Denise Menchaca and Chen Ho Liao [from the San Gabriel City Council].
What do you think of think of the City of Alhambra’s at large voting system [where City Council candidates represent a district, but all residents can vote for them]?
If you look at the [California] Voting Rights Act, we really should be running from districts, because one of the reasons I am voting as well, is because if you come to my neighborhood, you’ll see that I’m on the west end of Fremont and I’m just north of Valley, so we’re kind of stuck in this little area.
We decided — we own our home — we decided not to upgrade or anything like that, because we liked our neighborhood. We wanted our neighborhood to work for us. And if you go there, you’ll see that there’s definitely a need for greening. I know exactly where I would put it. There’s definitely a need for outreach, because we’re sort of like in a little island over there. But my neighbors are immigrants, and long-time people who own their homes and it’s a good, good mix. But we need more assistance over on that end. Our alleys need to be looked at because some of them are places where because before we knew that there was drug-selling in the back alley, just north of Valley Boulevard. So our police officers are really good about patrolling, but I think we need more police officers quite honestly, and we need some of them to be doing the patrolling while others are doing the more advanced work.
I hope that answers your question, but I’m real passionate about my neighborhood and staying there. And so the representation of that, we get our signatures, but I only need 50 signatures to be put on the ballot, and then I can go over to all different areas. [If we get rid of at large districts], you can just focus on your area, and not just come back to it on election day. It makes for a better city. Well-rounded, balanced and people want to be here. Not “look at the blighted area” and drive through it.
We have a cleaners that needs to be removed from the site, because it doesn’t look like the people are going to be utilizing that. It’s right next to the big Welcome to Alhambra Arc de Triomphe there. I’d like to see basketball courts for our boys and girls right next to it. Like level that poll, level the cleaners, clean it up, or make it the basketball court or green or extend the pocket park, because though the roses are gorgeous to look at, there are things we have to maintain that our water is just not — we’re in a drought and it looks like we’re gonna continue to be or go back into drought — and so we need to look for other ways of doing things.
And one of the other things I’m really interested in is capturing water. I know the City gave out barrels, or people got to purchase barrels, but that’s just a drop in the bucket, no pun intended. We need to think about how we can partner with school and city to save water, to actually create a system where we can recapture the rainwater and use it for the greening of our city.
You’re active in the Alhambra Democratic Club. How has that informed your campaign?
There are many values that the Democrats hold very dear to them. And I think they’re very important values for families, for working families. I’d like us to see us put more families who live here to work. So if we’re contracting to build something, let’s have more folks who are contracted inside and are living and benefit from the work that we’ll do on the City Council.
What do you think of of how business development occurs in Alhambra? What would you change about it?
It looks like mixed-used is here. It doesn’t look like it’s gonna go away, but I kind of like the smaller mom and pop businesses because they’re the backbone of our economic engine. So I’d like to see more mom-and-pop, and less of the franchises. I think the City attempts to help them. I think there are better ways in which you can do that. For example, one of our favorite restaurants on Valley Boulevard was a Thai restaurant. That was there for several years. We did our Christmas parties, our birthday parties, and because they couldn’t keep the rent, because the rent was raised, they couldn’t stay. And that was so sad to see them go because they were a family-run business. They kept their prices reasonable. So anybody could go in there and get something to eat. And if you wanted to have a full table, you could do that. It was reasonable. And they couldn’t survive. And that’s after being with us for maybe 10 years.
Speaking of which, what do you think of rent control, and high rents in Alhambra?
Once again, I do know that we’ve seen here is the development of housing has changed dramatically. And trying to encourage those who make a salary of $100,000 or over a year to purchase or have an apartment here — and I get it because you want to encourage everybody to live in Alhambra, because we’re a good little melting pot, a diverse group, and however, I think the renters must be careful and the landlords have to be sensitive to the economics, because things have changed so much. Folks have lost jobs, so how do we that? We need to be sensitive and encourage landlords to potentially find ways that will maybe not increase the rent, but maybe through the renters fixing the place up on their own, maybe taking on somebody else to live with them. Back when I got my first apartment, I had two people that I live with, going to school, but it took three of us and that was at 606 S 6th St in Alhambra, and the rent was $180 a month [total, in 1978, for a two-bedroom apartment]. We did it. It took three of us to do it, each one of us could’ve probably done that, but it just tells you about the big change that you’re talking about. And now it’s $1800 for a one-bedroom. That’s very expensive.
I would like my daughter to be able to pay rent and live in the city that she currently lives in. Currently, she’s with us, and she just got her bachelor’s degree, and she’s working quite a few hours, and she’s making over minimum wage, but she cannot afford an apartment here by herself like I could, when I was a waitress. So what does that tell you? Things have changed so much, and I’d like to see some controlling of the costs.
Would you support a rent control ordinance?
I would. I would. At the same time, I would want to make sure that landlords have support in preparation for that. Because I think there are some landlords who like the people that they have in their properties. Because sometimes it’s a challenge also to find people who are committed and care for their property. So how do we do that? There’s gotta be ways we can do that. But I really do believe that it’s time to look at some controlling of the rent.
What could Alhambra do in terms of immigration?
We were one of the first school districts — and I led that resolution — that actually wanted to make sure that our families felt safe. We passed it. And I’m so glad that my school board members agreed with me that that was the way to go. I do not know whether the city has its own — but once the state became a sanctuary state, for me that spoke volumes for all of our cities. I was so pleased to be walking with the teachers and the advocates of the City of Alhambra. Our police department encouraged us and actually walked with us or actually rode in the car to make sure our march was uneventful in terms of problems.
I was at San Gabriel [when they terminated their agreement with ICE] and spoke actually and it’s an issue that’s very important to me. We have a lot of immigrants. Everybody has a different type of status but they all got lumped into one, and that was what I wanted to convey was that when you have your president of the United States saying one thing, and you have a state saying another thing, we need to be conscious of how we precede. Now that we have ICE going into cities, we have folks that are encouraging us to raise our voices against any ordinance that would encourage our local police departments to do that on a regular basis. And to pick people up solely because of what they look like, rather than waiting for an offense. And that’s the fear, because it’s been done so many times throughout our country’s history. It was done in the 1940s. We had trains taking people who were citizens back to their countries.
Practically, how does the school district resolution work?
Our resolution says that we won’t let anybody on site that doesn’t have permission to be on site. The federal government does not have the permission to go on site of school districts, because they think they might find one or two people who are — no, they don’t have a right. We as a school district will protect our students, no matter what.
We found that they were driving around in Monterey Park, at Ynez Elementary School and a couple of other schools. Our principals were informing our superintendent and our student welfare assistant superintendent. They took pictures of it. It’s not pronounced now, however, we were notified of that. And our people held firm at the doors. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t stop. I think their tactic was to scare people.
I felt a little strange being in San Gabriel doing that, but it crosses borders, because our kids live in San Gabriel — they may be attending our schools. I would venture to say they are.
Would you support a sanctuary city ordinance in Alhambra?
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Updated on Feb. 21, 2018 at 12:32 a.m.
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