By Terry Miller and John Stephens
Arcadia High School senior Michael Kallin voted for the first time in his life Tuesday evening at the polling place located within the Arcadia Retirement Gardens. The AHS Constitution Team member, whose 18th birthday was just this March said he was eager to vote for the first time and said he casted his votes wisely and with care.
But Mr. Kallin was not alone in voting. The turnout, though not necessarily remarkable in terms of the number of voters who either turned out or returned their vote-by-mail ballots, proved triumphant in the end for Micky Segal and incumbents Bob Harbicht and Peter Amundson.
This city council election had been touted as one of the most important elections in recent memory and the amount of relatively outrageous amount of money spent on campaigns was testament to that fact. But apparently, at least in the Arcadia political arena, money isn’t everything. To wit, the campaign’s biggest spender, attorney Paul Cheng, garnered only enough votes to place 5th out of the six candidates, besting only Jason lee in the final tally. To the three victors, candidate Sho Tay lost by several thousand votes as did Paul Cheng and Jason Lee, respectively. The thirty-two year old Cheng is estimated to have exhausted nearly $100,000 on this, his first attempt at elected office.
It was a big loss for the Asian-American candidates and their supporters. The “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” campaign rhetoric from Bob Harbicht apparently struck home with many voters in the conservative, and generally “well-run” Arcadia, as was said by Arcadia’s Citizen of the Year Vince Foley as he watched the election results roll in Tuesday evening before heading off to Matt Denny’s for the Segal victory party.
Hundreds of people in all walks of life participated in this election including the Arcadia High School Constitution team which led a debate hosted by the Santa Anita Inn and sponsored by Arcadia Weekly and KGEM-TV, a non-profit community production studio located in Monrovia, in an effort to better educate the public on the issues facing Arcadia and create more interest among the potential electorate.
The efficient workings of the city were also a campaign highlight for Segal and Amundson. All candidates touted a fiscally responsible city under their watch. Voters listened and effectively chose to continue Arcadia on the straight and narrow course it has been following for quite some time.
Some of the more vocal opponents to the status-quo included local real estate developer Henry Nunez, went on a hunger strike to point out his disapproval of Harbicht and Segal’s candidacy and platforms.
Harbicht told the Los Angeles Times that Nunez’ actions were like a “gnat” flying in his ear. Referring to Nunez as “annoying” and sticking to his idiom of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Harbicht maintained a consistent tone throughout the course of the campaign, through nearly countless debates, forums and other public appearances.
A visibly delighted Mr. Harbicht was in the council chambers as the final numbers were posted on the big board, and congratulations rolled in from nearly all those in attendance.
Arcadia Weekly called Henry Nunez Wednesday afternoon. He said he was feeling great after his hunger strike and that “the election has not changed where I live or the love I have for the city and the things I believe Arcadia still needs. “
Nunez went on to say that he looks forward to working with the new council in the future and was happy he had to opportunity to support the campaigns of the candidates he preferred. Although obviously somewhat tired, Nunez reiterated that he’s proud of Arcadia and all of the citizens who stood up and made their voice heard in the election. “I always want to work for the best interests of Arcadia and its residents,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Paul Cheng shared some of his post-election thoughts.
“In terms of the outcome, we’re obviously disappointed, but we do have to rally around the new council and support them. I did feel, however, that we offered a new perspective during this campaign and election. I look at city council like a basketball team. Each member is vital to the other for success.”
Asked what he’d do now, Cheng said that he plans on staying very involved in the community and continuing his law practice, which is located in Pasadena.
As is typical with these elections, there are still some provisional ballots that remain to be counted, so what follows should still be considered an unofficial final tally:
Bob Harbicht: 4563
Paul P. Cheng: 2232
Mark “Mickey” Segal: 4557
Peter Amundson: 3851
Jason J. Lee: 1536
Sho Tay: 2529