The 2022 mid-term elections are now over and as we wait for the final, certified results, the outcomes in Alhambra’s City Council races look unlikely to change. We congratulate the winners (Ms. Katherine Lee for District 1, Mr. Ross Maza for District 2, and Ms. Adele Andrade-Stadler for District 5) and we applaud all of the candidates who ran for office.
By Grassroots Alhambra Board of Directors
This was the first election in Alhambra post-Measure V which passed overwhelmingly in 2020 and ushered in an era of by-District voting accompanied by meaningful campaign finance reform (limited by Supreme Court decisions). Let us take stock. The explicit goals of Measure V were to encourage more participation in our democratic process by lowering the cost of running for office. We are cautiously optimistic.
In 2022, there were two challengers to the incumbent in District 1 and one in District 5. While we congratulate Mr. Maza for his win in District 2, we believe it would have been more meaningful had there been a challenger or two in his District as well.
The results leave no doubt that winning a Council race is now no longer about just raising and spending obscene amounts of money, especially from vested interests whose motivations are plain to see, or simply by over-powering opponents by littering the city with yard signs, air-dropping slick mailers, glib but misleading or empty sloganeering and even obtaining meaningless endorsements from political has-beens. Running in District 1, Mr. Steven Sham checked all of these boxes, in spades. Even with the name recognition that comes from being a past Council member for 12 years, and outraising his opponents by far, he was trailing in the third and last place.
Actual voter engagement is critical, such as by walking one’s District (now physically possible with by-District voting per Measure V), participating in community-sponsored debates, engaging in spirited conversations, especially with voters that may be skeptical, and explaining the rationale for why one is running and why one is the better choice.
We are proud that Alhambra voters demonstrated their ability to sort through misleading claims of past records and unrealistic future promises. The past was never as good as it was painted, and the future is unlikely to be as rosy. Democracy is always a work in progress – and hard work. We commend all Alhambrans who participated, and we recognize our good fortune in being able to settle our political differences via the unending Great American Experiment.
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