In regard to the article "Ethnic Groups Give the Nod to Tolerance" (Times, April 15), I was interviewed extensively for this article and tried to emphasize the importance of issues other than just those of ethnicity. While the defeat of an anti-immigrant stance was significant, there were also other aspects which the article failed to cover although they were said in my interview:
1. There were other issues, not just ethnic tensions, which were very important in this (Monterey Park) election. In door-to-door walking, I found that voters were concerned about problems in the Police Department, the city deficit, the need for diversity in businesses and the need to control growth. Consequently, while voters did vote out the incumbents, they also strongly supported Proposition S, a measure to control growth in the city.
2. Barry Hatch wasn't defeated just because voters perceived he had an anti-immigrant stand. Even some voters who supported him in the last election had become disgusted with what one former supporter called his antics of "being against everything" without "proposing positive solutions to anything." Some I talked to pointed to his calls for the resignation of the city manager and for an independent city audit, after the city had just completed one, as examples of knee-jerk proposals with no substance.
3. There has been an anti-incumbent trend in San Gabriel Valley city elections for a time now. Voters, concerned about growth, pollution, crowded freeways, lack of affordable housing, reduced human services and the loss of revenues at the local level, are taking out their frustrations on whoever is in office. With drastic cuts at the national and state level, local municipalities are unable to solve these problems themselves. Regional coordination is a must. However, many city councils, pressured by resident interest groups, insist on protecting their autonomy. Cities such as Monterey Park are faced with the dual challenge of controlling growth, which can cause revenue loss and unaffordable housing, while maintaining services without burdening residents and small businesses with higher taxes.
4. While there is a trend toward more participation in the political process by Asian and Latino voters throughout the San Gabriel Valley, there is also a trend to look beyond ethnicity to the issues that the candidates are advocating or not advocating. The Chinese candidate in Monterey Park, Sam Kiang, picked up broad support in all precincts, including those which didn't have large Latino or Asian concentrations. In many city elections and in state races throughout the Valley, Latinos have been running against Latinos. What has separated them, in many cases, has been their different positions on issues. As Latinos and Asians become more active in the electoral arena, their agendas will be just as significant as their ethnicity.
While ethnic issues are important, there are other encompassing issues, beneath the surface, which equally play a major role in creating either the conditions for tension and tolerance or genuine harmony and coalition-building.