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Yamauchi appointed Alhambra's mayor; says he plans to bring back Jubilee, create regular town halls

Last time Gary Yamauchi was mayor of Alhambra, he was often asked, “What’s it like to be the mayor?” He would respond, “The mayor of Alhambra is really not that big a deal."  And in his experience it did not consist of much more than organizing a Dodger night. But Yamauchi, who Assemblyman Mike Eng swore in Monday night as the rotating mayor of Alhambra, said this time he plans to do things differently: “I want to make my term a little special not for me but for the citizens of Alhambra.”Mayor Yamauchi with Lawrence Lue, CEO of Chinatown Service CenterGoals for this time term include bringing back the Summer Jubilee and town hall meetings every month and a half. “I want to maintain the transparency the City Council has developed in the past few years,” he said. “Call me anytime and I’ll be happy to discuss any issues with you.” Other plans, he said, include a cupcake cooking contest for high school students (other city’s have Chili cook offs, he noted, but he thought this was more fitting for Alhambra), a large health fare, a drive to turn in expired prescriptions, a food and toy drive, and a Christmas decorations contest. As for the 710, he said, “We’re probably closer than we’ve ever been. Hopefully one of the people on this Council will live long enough to see the groundbreaking.”

Congresswoman Chu and Assemblyman Eng administered the oaths of officeCongresswoman Judy Chu also swore in three Alhambra City Council Members to a new term. Before administering the oath of office to Council Members Luis Ayala, Barbara Messina, and Stephen Sham, she joked that she was addressing “the most powerful people in Alhambra.” The reason, she said, was nobody chose to run against them. The elections were cancelled when nobody challenged Ayala, Sham, and Messina. Chu went on to say, in a serious tone, “You are very, very active in the community; I see you everywhere. You are very responsive to the constituents and you work very hard on the issues. No wonder they returned you back to the office.”

Each of the Council Members in turn thanked his or her family and the residents of Alhambra. “I just want to say thank you to the residents of Alhambra for having the confidence in all of us,” Messina said. “I can honestly say that speaking personally my commitment is 110% to this community and it always will be. It’s such a pleasure for me to do what I do because I enjoy making this a better community.”

Council Members Messina, Ayala, and Sham take the oath of office

Ayala, who is also now vice mayor, spoke about his roots as the child of migrant farmers in the Salinas Valley. “I’m here as a testimony to what education can do for us first-generation migrant kids. That’s the reason I’m involved in public service,” he said. “Thanks for the folks out there who gave us the vote of confidence to not run against us. Hopefully it means were doing a great job in Alhambra and I hope to work on moving this city forward.”

And Sham, who is the outgoing mayor, shared some of the city’s accomplishments under his service in that office. “We have done so much despite our nation’s economic challenge,” he said, naming a balanced budget, the new arch gateway plaza, two mixed-used development projects downtown, a prescription discount program, Dodger night, a new Volkswagen dealership, mural on Mission road, and, finally, that the city was named most business-friendly city in Los Angeles with a population under 60,000. “Thank you to the community for the opportunity to serve for another four years,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do more for the community.”

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