The Alhambra Source is interviewing candidates running in this year’s municipal elections. Last week, we spoke to the third district candidates, Mark Nisall and Jeff Maloney. This week, we spoke to David Mejia, a sergeant with the LAPD, and longtime Alhambra resident, who is running for the city council's fourth district seat. Mejia spoke to The Source about his passion for public safety, Alhambra youth sports and bringing business to Valley Boulevard.
I’ve always had the passion to be a police officer, I don’t know if I told that story during the forum that it was either be a baseball player or a police officer. My arm is messed up so I became a police officer. I’m living every kid's dream; I’m out there working. But I’m also big with getting involved in the community, and that’s one thing I’ve done, just living in Alhambra for the past 12 years is: “How do you make your community better?” You have to take part in the community. You gotta be involved. And it can be little small things, like I coach Little League for the last couple of years for my son’s team. I’ve done AYSO soccer, you know, for the last couple of years. Because to me, kids are important. They’re our future. You never know, and you have to get these kids ready.
That’s why I wanted to get involved, and I was afforded the opportunity about eight and a half years ago to become a member of the HUD Commission, the HCDA commission in Alhambra. It was great experience, because you got to see all the stuff that goes on in the city, as far as grants coming in, what we could do to fix certain areas, like for example, the area over there by Toys 'R' Us. That was a grant we got. We were able to fix it up, and sold it back. Now they’re trying to reinvest that money, which is good. And that was very good experience, an eye opener, because there a lot of things that the city does, you know. Being in law enforcement, I’m used to certain things, public safety and all that other good stuff. Then recently after my eight years working for that commission, I was appointed to the Parks and Rec [commission]. That’s my passion. I’m a sports guy. I love coaching, I love having people being active out in the community.
So I’m glad I’m on that commission, and that’s the stuff I really have passion for. That’s why I decided when this opportunity came up, and I knew Dr. Placido was going to term out, I put my hat in the ring, and if I win, great, I’m gonna try to make a difference. If I don’t, I’m still gonna be involved in the community, I mean, this is where I plan to live, where my kids go to school, where my wife works in the school district, so — we ain’t going nowhere. We’re gonna be here for a while.
And so what issues are you running on specifically?
I’m a public safety guy. And to me, that’s very important, public safety. Because, not only—you’ll see when you buy properties. The safer the community is, the safer they keep up the area, property values go up. That is important. You buy a house for $300,000, and if everything goes well, that house is gonna double. Alhambra? You’ll see it all the time. But that’s the point of public safety, because you want to have that quality of life. And that includes having the police officers going out there to work. It also involves the community members to be active, and you want to be the eyes and ears working with the police. That’s important you have that relationship with them. We do a lot of that at the LAPD. That’s my bread and butter. I was a detective for about 7 years. I was a field sergeant in South Central. So I have that background with public safety, making the community better. At the end of the day, certain areas aren’t well in the community, you want to prove them, you want to make sure you see graffiti, get rid of it right away, because if you had one graffiti, you’re going to get more things. For example, the donut shop that used to be open on Raymond and Valley. It went out of business maybe about a year ago? Great donut shop. Nice little family. The lines were always there. I guess they got tired of waking up early. They sold it. Well, nobody’s moved into it. So what happens? You see a transient once in a while. You start seeing the graffiti. And it gets really bad, and before you know it, you start seeing drug addicts, prostitutes, you don’t know what you’re going to see. So you gotta make sure you get on top of it. I know a lot of the community will call the graffiti hotline or code enforcement, like, “Hey get the owner to at least paint the walls or something,” because — that’s why you want to build that public safety in the community.
The other thing that is really important and dear to my heart is you want to have leadership in the future, and that includes all groups in the future, okay? That includes the children. That includes the adults. That includes the special needs community, which is a big community in Alhambra. To me, it’s building that relationship, not only with the school district, but the city partners up with them to maybe get some of the programs, the academic programs. College is very expensive, it’s very competitive and Alhambra has a good reputation for getting kids to UCLA, a bunch of good schools. You want to continue that, you want to urge the whole community, but at the same time, there’s people who don’t like school. Maybe work with the school district to bring people into internsips, teach them how to become an electrician or plumber. Some people love that stuff and they make a lot of money, so you want to encourage all of that, so as a person who's into that, I would really like it if we could get a relationship with the complete district: mentoring the future. And that’s what I’m angling at.
The last thing I want to focus on is smart economic growth in our city. And I don’t just say by developing buildings. But you want to keep your businesses open. You want people to come to your businesses. Because if you notice, there’s a lot of empty storefronts here, and it’s kind of sad that people aren’t shopping in their own community. You want people to invest back in their own community. About a month ago, I know the city of Alhambra had Dine Alhambra. We should do more of these kind of things, because that’s taxes coming to our city, and the good thing about that, if you’re getting taxes, taxes pay for a bunch of things. They pay for street repairs. They pay for public safety. Fire. That’s the big thing. You want to keep your money in Alhambra. The auto dealerships? They’re great. Because those taxes come back to the city of Alhambra, so you want to encourage that. You see a lot of it down Valley Boulevard too, so you want to get businesses to come back in, and that’s something I would work on. In other words: Eat at home! In your city. It’s simple.
It seem like Valley Boulevard is your pet issue.
Yes, it is. It affects me every day. I know people say Main Street this, and I know Jeff [Maloney] and Mark [Nisall], because that’s where they live at, they see Main Street. I see Fremont, I see Valley. And it’s a big issue with me because obviously it affects the streets going East and West of Fremont, and North and South, because if you ever take a drive, everybody uses the side streets to get through, so it’s very dangerous at night, especially right now because people want to get home, and to me, you gotta do something with these streets.
When you come off the freeway, you want to see nice things. You don’t want to see empty businesses. And they’re starting to improve. They opened a couple of businesses in the area, which is kind of cool. And we just gotta keep doing that, emphasize a little bit, keep an eye on Valley. Because Valley is important in our community. That’s my border. So obviously I want a market or something. I want a Trader Joe’s or something. That could be kind of cool to have on my block, because I could walk to it. I don’t have to drive to it.
I’m gonna bring back things in my part of town, because we do have people who live here all the way to Monterey Park that — they don’t really want to drive all the way to Main Street, if they can go to Valley, get a — We have the Hat, we have Chonito's, we have Noodle [World], we have a bunch of restaurants that if we could bring more things like that, that would be awesome, because once again that brings money to the city.
In terms of outreach and fundraising, how are you going about that?
You know we’ve had a couple of fundraisers over the course of the campaign. The first one was a lot of my family. [Then there were] friends in law enforcement that I’ve known forever that are like family to me. They donated and helped me out to start the campaign, because they knew it was important to me. Being involved in the city, you get to know a lot of the businesses, especially when you’re in the groups and the commissions that I did, so I’ve gotten some endorsements from some of the businesses, some of the city folks I got to know over the years. I’ve gotten support from families that I coach — kids, and moms and dads — they gave me money for my campaign. Because at the end of the day, they know it’s good for the community and that’s the biggest thing. We’ve done fairly well. We’re set up good for the election. Elections are not cheap. Stamps are 50 cents. If you send out 10,000 mailers, that’s gonna run you about $5,000. That’s a lot of money. I wish I could spend that money and donate it to something, but hopefully we’ll see what we can do with that.
Is there anything else you want to add?
If elected, I come with a mentality that I’m a very open-minded person. I’m a great communicator. I’m in law enforcement, and I’m a problem solver. That’s what we need. Obviously, the big word is transparency. It’s important that the people in your community know what’s going on. It’s important that we do that. The biggest thing is if the community wants to know you, please feel free, text me, call me when I get elected. I’ll return the call. It might not be that minute, because sometimes I might be doing something at work, but I’ll get back to you via email or something. You just gotta feel like you’re doing something for your community, and I want to be that guy.
If I don’t get elected, then at least I can say I tried. And if I do, I think I will bring a lot of good stuff to Alhambra. I have this really good feeling, because I’ve done so much, that I’ve invested already, that I want to keep investing, and that’s the key for myself. Thank you.