Cities in the San Gabriel Valley, like Alhambra, have immigrant majority communities who will be affected by the results of ballot initiatives that would fund public education, affordable housing, parks and more if they pass on November 8. Community leaders hope to educate residents about their right to vote and offer key recommendations on state propositions and local measures.
A coalition of 45 Asian Pacific Islander organizations, through Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, announced their endorsements with a voter guide on all of the measures at an Oct. 13 press conference hosted at the Los Angeles office of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an civil rights advocacy organization.
Addressing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, speakers emphasized that their vote matters, not just on the presidential election but also on state and local ballot measures. California residents can register to vote by October 24, and they can do so in one of the 10 languages offered in Los Angeles County, said Deanna Kitamura, the voting rights project director for Los Angeles’s Advancing Justice branch.
"This November, California and Angelenos will have the opportunity to cast their ballots that will impact our children's future. While this election cycle is more important than ever, too many Americans still take their right to vote for granted. But for me, for many Asian Americans, this election is too personal not to vote,” said David Ryu, Los Angeles City Councilmember in the fourth district.
California propositions on education
Advancing Justice’s top priority is passing Prop 55, which continues education funding for K-12 schools and community colleges by extending Prop 30’s personal income tax increase, Karin Wang, spokesperson for Advancing Justice, wrote in an email. If the tax measure does not pass, then funding will dry up in the next few years. Advancing Justice, who endorses five state propositions, will host a community forum about Prop 55 for families in the neighboring city of Rosemead on Oct. 20.
Yvonne West-Palma, an AUSD school board candidate, also supports the proposition because it will fund healthcare for low-income families. “With the well documented link between children's health, school attendance and success in school, this proposition will facilitate improved access to health care for our low-income children and their families, as well as stabilize the state budget,” West-Palma, PTA president at Park Elementary School, wrote in an email. “If the proposition does not pass, our schools will be underfunded by $4 billion dollars, and we are already shamefully ranked 46th in the nation on per pupil funding.”
Parents of students in the Alhambra Unified School District should also pay attention to Prop 58, which would allow school districts to establish bilingual education programs and “no longer require English-only education for English learners,” according to Ballotpedia. The proposition would require input from parents and the community when developing the programs. Alhambra is predominantly an Asian-American and Latino majority community, which means many students live with family members whose primary language is Chinese or Spanish. In particular, 56 percent of Asian Americans in Alhambra are Limited English Proficient.
Students who are English-language learners will benefit from a dual-language immersion program because language fluency takes seven years to develop when done with intention, Andrea Lofthouse, who teaches Structured English Immersion classes at Alhambra High and works with Chinese immigrant students, told the Source.
“To have so many students with different language backgrounds, we have the potential for our [AUSD] students to master more than one language… It is an asset to speak more than one language. We can be immersed in multiple languages in our own community. We could be a model for inclusion, and really good citizenship, which honors each person's skills and strengths,” Lofthouse said. “Prop 58 empowers teachers and districts to utilize best practices and tools to support students with different language needs.”
Increasing access to parks and becoming transit-friendly in Los Angeles County
Measure A funds safe and clean neighborhood parks, said APIOPA program director Scott Chan. There are only 0.9 acres per 1000 Alhambra residents, which is lower than the LA County average of 3.3 acres, and the passing of this measure would be an “investment in our health and communities,” Chan said.
San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a coalition of environmental organizations, supports Measure A because it prioritizes funding to park-poor communities. “Parks improve our quality of life, offering environmental and public health benefits for youth, older adults and folks of all ages and backgrounds and future generations to play and recreate in,” Amy Wong, the coalition coordinator, wrote in an email. “If Measure A does not pass, there would be no funding for parks, which would be detrimental to our youth and families.”
The coalition also supports Measure M, which will raise the count’s sales tax by a half-cent to fund the expansion of the Metro rail system and provide local funding to cities. In a Source poll, Alhambra residents supported Measure M, especially if an ACT shuttle line can connect them to the Gold Line.
“Measure M will provide dedicated investments in walking and biking to create safer streets in a more sustainable, healthy and livable LA County. It would help us realize a greenway network in the San Gabriel Valley, connecting miles of protected walking and biking paths,” wrote Wong.
(Featured photo above by Alan Alfaro is licensed under CC BY 2.0)