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Why are Alhambra candidates running unopposed?

The Chinese language newspaper World Journal (世界日報) reports on how Alhambra City Council elections for two council and three school board members running unopposed will be canceled, and probes the question of how Chinese residents feel about civic participation.

Ma Huang Siming, the chairman of the Alhambra Chinese Association, told the World Journal that Alhambra residents are generally not very interested in politics. She said that "the current officials are doing a good job and there is no need for the public to challenge and criticize them."

Alhambra Councilman Stephen Sham confirmed citizens' participation in elections has been low in the past few years. The entire municipal election was canceled in 2010 when all candidates up for reelection ran unopposed. Voter turnout is also an issue. Sham said that many new Asian immigrants are busy making a living and do not have the leisure to participate in politics.  Other reasons include lack of understanding of the political system and not being a citizen.

Sham also believes that low rates of participation may mean happy citizens. He explained that most of the people who participate in elections aim to improve their city's shortcomings or public policy, but Alhambra residents have little complaints since the city is making progress on library services, road infrastructure, parks, business development, and other local government services. Sham encouraged Alhambra residents to take part in politics and public service. He advised those who want to run for office to start doing community service to gain political experience.

The article also cites an Alhambra Source survey, which finds that low public participation in elections is due to residents not knowing how to run for office and being satisfied with the way the city is run. Only a small number of people think residents do not care or that they lack the time or resources.

Thank you for reading our story! Alhambra Source is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our newsroom reports fact-based quality journalism that educates, informs and engages our diverse communities - with no paywall. Support our mission and donate today!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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5 thoughts on “Why are Alhambra candidates running unopposed?”

  1. Need loads of money for running for city council & only candidates supported by Alhambra Chamber of Commerce/business get loads & loads of donations, suppressing people with less business connections from running. You can clearly see the same people “playing musical chairs” ie Chamber of Commerce, Board of Education, service organizations = city council member; same people rotating seats, backed by business interests who have resources to support those candidates.Once in awhile an “outsider” might take a stab at running for council but that “outsider” will be mercifully “destroyed” by lies & scare tactics as we have witnessed in recent elections.

  2. I like what your saying. I’m sorry I missed you at IHOP. You have my vote.

  3. Elizabeth Salinas

    I am running for City Council, 4th District because I think that on a lot of important issues, affecting our daily lives, we are not being properly represented. In short many of the decisions taken by our City Council do not reflect the desires and true sentiments of the constituents. I feel like our leaders are out of touch with our daily realities. Exhibit A: Giving $113,000 to a restaurant business that failed but cutting the swim program and reducing our pool availability (i.e. closed pools when we are still in summer).

    Overdevelopment of our residential neighborhoods, deteriorating park facilities, filthy park bathrooms, increase in residential break-ins, under utilized pool services, elimination of cash for recycling centers, and the city’s interference with our churches’ right to assist the homeless are just a few of these issues.

    I attend the City Council meetings and one of the reasons that I believe there is low attendance and participation is because of the tone taken by our officials when addressing the regular folk (us) at these meetings. I have seen them cut people off during oral communications and take a condescending attitude toward those that speak. The City Council meetings oftentimes last about 10-15 minutes with little to no public dialogue.

    In going door to door, campaigning and in our Preserve Midwick Movement, I’ver heard from a lot of unhappy Alhambrans but there is also a sense of “Oh well, what can we do…” I think there is a lot that we can do and we should not grow complacent when it comes to our City. It does not surprise me that our City Council believe that they are doing a great job. The truth is there is a lot of room for improvement and it needs to start with our City Officials. They need to do a lot more to show that they want us to be engaged. We need more transparency.

    I don’t have all the answers but I do know this: if we want change, we need to work toward it. Remember to vote for me, Elizabeth Salinas, for City Council.

    1. Elizabeth Salinas: I attend the City Council meetings and one of the reasons that I believe there is low attendance and participation is because of the tone taken by our officials when addressing the regular folk (us) at these meetings. I have seen them cut people off during oral communications and take a condescending attitude toward those that speak. The City Council meetings oftentimes last about 10-15 minutes with little to no public dialogue.

      I can’t agree more. We need some change.
      You will get our support on Nov.6.

      1. kevin, your tone is obviously. I think no matter what the current city council does, you’ll find a way to disagree with them. My vote will be ready as well.

Do you have a question you would like to ask Alhambra candidates?

Ask your Alhambra City Council OR your Alhambra Unified School Board Candidates a question ahead of the 2020 elections!