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They'll Be on Council But Not on the Ballot


ALHAMBRA — Their names won't appear anywhere on the Nov. 6 ballot, but Barbara Messina and Mary Louise Bunker will be starting new terms on the City Council anyway.

That's because city officials have decided to save money by taking advantage of a 1985 state law.

Because Messina and Bunker are running unopposed in their respective districts, the council Friday voted to take their names off the ballot and appointed each to another four-year term, a provision allowed under the state Elections Code. Their new terms will begin after the election.

City voters will have a choice in the 5th District, currently represented by Councilman Michael Blanco. He is being challenged by Sonia E. McIntosh. And there are five people running for two seats on the Alhambra school board. The candidates in that race are Ron Hirosawa; Charles C. Ling; Dora Padilla (incumbent); Jeffrey Schwartz, and Sophie Wong.

Although incumbents have run unchallenged before, this is the first time Alhambra has removed unopposed candidates' names from the ballot, a decision that is expected to save the city about $20,000 in printing and tallying costs, City Clerk Frances A. Moore said.

The economic benefits aside, Messina said the fact that no one challenged her bid for a second four-year term is a vote of confidence. In 1986, she faced two opponents in a race that she said was heated by anti-growth sentiments and calls to sharply curtail development.

This year, she said, "we really don't have any issues that people could really say we were doing something wrong with."

Still, Ralph Gilliam, who lost to Bunker in 1986 and considered running again against the two-term incumbent in November, said the only thing holding him back is money. The retired United Parcel Service manager spent $19,000 on his campaign four years ago and isn't prepared to cough up that amount again.

"Don't let anybody say there's no issues out there, for crying out loud," said Gilliam, who said he is troubled by the lack of competitors. "There's a lot of issues. (But) $19,000 for a $50-a-month job? It's ridiculous."

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