LocationAlhambra , CA
A threatened boycott of a candidates forum next week by three incumbent members of the Alhambra school board was averted after high school students stepped in to run the forum, replacing the League of Women Voters.
The three board members – Jane Anderson, Wing Ho and Patricia Rodriguez-Mackintosh – had declined the League’s invitation for the Kids & Candidates forum Oct. 8, apparently to deny their challengers who all accepted any increased visibility. The League then withdrew, saying the forum might give the appearance that the nonpartisan League was supporting the challengers.
“The purpose of candidate forums is to give voters the opportunity to hear from all the candidates and to give all the candidates the opportunity to hear from the voters,” said Martha Zavala, the League’s Pasadena area president, expressing disappointment at the incumbents’ decision. She urged residents to attend the forum still sponsored by four community groups.
When these sponsors decided to proceed with student leaders as moderators and discussion organizers, two of the incumbents – Anderson and Ho – agreed to participate. The students are coming from Alhambra, Mark Keppel, San Gabriel and Independence high schools.
“For us, the students made all the difference,” Anderson said in a telephone interview. “For them, we’re happy to do it. We had agreed to an original first date, but when it was changed we couldn’t do the new one …. However, when the student leaders stepped in, we had to make it work. We are the Board of Education, after all.”
The boycott had also sparked considerable discussion on Alhambra-oriented social media sites, including Facebook, with much criticism of the incumbents’ position. “Frankly, the decision of the three school members not to participate seemed so disrespectful of the students, we could not understand it,” Joyce Amaro, president of the Alhambra Preservation Group, one of the forum sponsors, said in an interview. “We decided we had to proceed.”
The third incumbent, Patricia Rodriguez-Mackintosh, the board president, has not confirmed her participation, according to forum sponsors, and did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment.
In addition to the Alhambra Preservation Group, the sponsoring organizations include Alhambra Latino Association, Alhambra VISA Boosters and the Alhambra Source. The forum will be conducted through Zoom, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 8.
A forum featuring candidates for the Alhambra City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 6, also on Zoom. The League of Women Voters Pasadena Area remains a sponsor of this forum along with the four Alhambra organizations