LocationAlhambra , CA
Backed by local labor unions, a political newcomer has raised more money in her campaign for the Alhambra City Council than any other candidate, according to campaign finance reports filed by the candidates.
Sasha Renée Pérez, who is challenging Mayor David Mejia in Alhambra’s fourth district in her first election campaign, reported raising $41,661 by late last month compared to Mejia’s $22,686. All the candidates are still raising funds for the Nov. 3 municipal election.
“I am really satisfied with the widespread support I have,” Pérez said in a phone interview. “I did start early – last November, well before the pandemic – but I have been involved in community organizations since high school.”
Pérez’s campaign contributions include $6,500 from political action committees, mostly affiliated to local labor unions. “I come from a union family, and I am really proud of the support I have from labor … Union PACs are much different from business PACs because they represent real worker support,” she said. Pérez, a 2015 graduate from CalState Los Angeles, is a student engagements manager at the Campaign for College Opportunity.
Mejia, elected to the City Council in 2016 after serving on city commissions for eight years, raised $10,950 from business interests, including construction firms, consultants and auto dealers. He is a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant with 24 years of service.
Karsen Luthi, the third candidate in the district, did not report any contributions or expenses by the September filing deadline. Luthi is a retired civil servant and businessman.
In Alhambra’s third district, incumbent Jeff Maloney, an environmental lawyer, reported raising $32,594, largely in contributions of $100 to $250 from across Los Angeles’ Asian-American communities, where Maloney has been active for many years.
But it also included $9,771 from his father, Michael Maloney, a retired Pasadena clinical psychologist, nearly half of which came as an in-kind contribution of yard signs and campaign literature.
Maloney’s challenger, Chris Olson, who helps solicit grants for non-profit clients, reported raising $12,772, almost all in donations of $100 or $250 from friends and neighbors in Alhambra. She is currently president of the Alhambra Design Review Board.
An amendment to Alhambra’s city charter would limit campaign contributions to $250 in the 2022 election if approved and prohibit contributions from developers, contractors, those doing business with the city and political action committees.
“I strongly support this change to eliminate any pay-to-play in our government,” Maloney said in a phone interview, noting that he had helped draft the amendment on the ballot. “We will not need these large donations in the future if the amendment is adopted because candidates will run by district and not citywide.”
Although City Council members represent one of five districts at present, they effectively are elected at-large. “We will only need as fifth as much money once the amendment is approved,” Pérez said. “We would be running in our own districts where we are already known. This will be a really good change.”