LocationAlhambra , CA
Alhambra voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure on Tuesday that will bring fundamental election reform so that members of the City Council will be elected by residents of the districts they represent and impose strict limits on campaign contributions.
Voters also elected three “change” candidates, all veteran educators, to replace incumbents on the five-member Alhambra school board, and they chose a young community organizer, Sasha Renée Pérez, to replace David Mejia, the city’s current mayor, on the City Council.
Taken together, Tuesday’s election results constituted a major upheaval in Alhambra’s politics, which have increasingly become focused on affordable housing, property development, quality of education and transparency in government.
According to preliminary results from the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk, nearly 77 percent of voters supported the election reform, long-sought by community activists, that will end the citywide, at-large elections to the City Council and bring Alhambra into line with California civil rights law. The change takes effect with the 2022 council election.
The ballot measure also sharply limits campaign contributions to $250 a year per person and prohibits them entirely from property developers, contractors and political action committees. Community activists had argued the lack of limits suggested the city had a pay-to-play culture. The measure had the support of all members of the City Council as well as community groups.
The vote was 15,363 in favor of the ballot measure; 4,719 were opposed. The vote totals will likely change as additional mail ballots are received.
A second ballot measure removing the Alhambra Unified School District from Alhambra’s city charter as a step toward allowing it to operate under state laws in the future was also approved by 69 percent of city voters.
The new school board members all had strong support from the Alhambra Teachers Association, whose political action committee gave each $10,000 in campaign contributions. They all ran active campaigns despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcia Wilson, a dean at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, defeated Wing Kim Ho, a relatively new member of the board, in the first district, 18,501 votes to 18,114, a small margin of 1 percent that could change with mailed ballots not yet counted.
Ken Tang, an elementary teacher in the nearby Garvey School District, won 59 percent of the vote in the second district to defeat Jane C. Anderson, a veteran board member, 21,418 votes to 14,961.
And Kaysa Moreno, a community college mathematics teacher, defeated the current board president Patricia Rodriguez-Mackintosh, also involved in Alhambra schools for many years, 20,617 votes to 14,209 in the third district.
In the City Council election, Pérez had begun campaigning nearly a year ago, winning endorsements from the Alhambra Democratic Club, more than 20 labor unions, and Latino and Chinese community groups. Perez, a self-described community organizer for a decade, is a student engagement manager at the Campaign for College Opportunity.
She received 11,996 votes to the 6,990 for Mejia, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and a veteran of Alhambra politics. A third candidate, Karsen Luthi, a retired civil servant and business owner, received 1,839 votes.
In a second City Council race, incumbent Jeff Maloney, an environmental lawyer, easily defeated Chris Olson, a fundraising consultant, receiving 13,597 votes to 6,820.