ALHAMBRA — The City Council elections are shaping up to be a low-key affair, with Councilman Michael A. Blanco running against an opponent he beat handily four years ago, and two unopposed councilwomen being automatically granted four-year terms.
Blanco, 41, and Sonia McIntosh, a homemaker, are vying for the city's 5th District council seat, which represents the west part of the city. Councilwomen Mary Louise Bunker and Barbara A. Messina were appointed to new terms earlier this year because they were the only candidates in their respective districts.
Alhambra council candidates are nominated by district but run citywide in the nonpartisan election. Council members are limited to three terms under a 1976 charter amendment.
Blanco, an attorney, beat two opponents in 1982 by a wide margin. In the 1986 council election, he beat three opponents, including McIntosh, by an even larger margin, garnering 8,659 votes. McIntosh finished second in that race with 2,372 votes.
Blanco's platform during the last election focused on slowing development in Alhambra and reducing house sizes. Contending that most of his slow-growth objectives have been accomplished, Blanco said it is time to shift to regional issues, especially the environment.
As president of the San Gabriel Valley Assn. of Cities, Blanco said he has pushed for the development of light-rail lines and a proposed waste-by-rail project as an alternative to expanding landfills.
"I see (the environment) as the main problem for the next decade," Blanco said. "Environmental problems are affecting everybody. I see a need to make sure our children have opportunities that are safe and healthful for them."
Blanco also said he wants to increase child-care services in Alhambra and to look into providing day care for senior citizens.
McIntosh--who has run unsuccessfully for state Assembly, the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees and the Alhambra school board, in addition to the City Council--said that if elected she would tighten building standards in single-family residential areas and work to repeal "harassing" laws, such as a landscape ordinance requiring that front yards be covered with vegetation.
She also said Alhambra would be better off contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department rather than having its own police force.
That way, McIntosh said, the city wouldn't have to build a new police station, a multimillion-dollar project that the city wants to finance through a voter-approved bond initiative to be placed on the ballot in the future. In 1988, voters soundly defeated a $16.6-million bond issue that would have paid for the police building.
Now, the size of the proposed building has been increased and the cost is $20 million to $23 million, City Manager Kevin Murphy said.
"The City Council is getting ready to put (the cost of the station) on our tax bills," McIntosh charged. If the city's law enforcement were handled by the county sheriff, she said, "we wouldn't have to pay for a new police station. We'll have a helicopter if we need it, and all their facilities."
Blanco said he will spend all of the $12,000 he has raised for the race. McIntosh, meanwhile, is spending about $200 of her own money.