By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer
Jeffrey Koji Maloney, a candidate for Alhambra City Council, launched his campaign with a reception on June 22 at Little Tokyo’s Far Bar.
Maloney, a graduate of UC San Diego and USC’s Gould School of Law, serves as chief staff counsel for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Japanese American Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the Go For Broke National Education Center.
Elected officials who came to show their support included Mike Fong, Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees; James Toma, mayor of West Covina; Henry Lo, Garvey School District Board of Education; Gary Yamauchi, Alhambra City Council; and George Nakano, former assemblymember.
Nakano, who served in the Assembly from 1998 to 2004, noted that Maloney was a member of his staff and has gained much political experience since then.
Yamauchi, who was first elected to the City Council in 2004 and has served as mayor during his tenure, remarked, “For the last year and a half, I’ve been searching for somebody to take my place that I can trust and that I know will do a really good job for the residents of Alhambra … I was lucky. I didn’t find a good person, I found the best person.”
He cited Maloney’s work as vice president of the Alhambra Planning Commission and as chair of the city’s Special Olympics Committee, and added that he knows the candidate’s family well.
Fong, who noted that “it takes a lot of energy and a lot of work” to get elected, said that the reception marks “the first step in this journey” and will be followed by many more events.
While voter turnout in November is expected to be high because of the presidential race, Fong said, “The local level is where the rubber meets the road in politics, and Jeff is that person to make that positive change in the City of Alhambra.”
Maloney, who was joined by his wife, Akiko, and parents, Michael and Janet Chikami Maloney, looked around the room and said, “I see people that I’ve known from every aspect of my life, my Go For Broke friends, my JABA colleagues.”
Explaining his reasons for running, he said, “I was brought up in San Gabriel Valley … I reaped the advantages of having good people in office … to plan our community … Gary and his colleagues on the City Council have done a good job of making sure that the economy stays robust.”
As a member of the younger generation, he said, “It’s on us … That means we have to make sure that Alhambra stays a livable community, that our quality of life stays high. It means that our economy has to stay strong. We have to adapt to changing demographics … Alhambra is situated right between L.A. and San Gabriel Valley. We’re in a prime position to really take advantage of things that are happening … movement of people and businesses.”
Citing ongoing problems such as the drought and climate change, Maloney continued, “Environmental issues are a big part of what I plan to do … These are all things I’m concerned about, and I think we need an economic base to address these larger issues.”
Non-Alhambra residents should also support his candidacy, he said, because issues like homelessness, affordable housing and traffic are not limited to one city. “We have to make sure … every one of our municipalities are all pulling in the right direction. We have to be on the same team, making sure that we’re making changes that will benefit future generations.”
Regarding the Asian Pacific American community, which makes up 50 percent of Alhambra’s population, Maloney said, “We have to make sure that they’re involved in our city … that they have a voice … When issues come up where they may feel they’re ostracized, they have someone in city government they can come talk to.”
At least one other person is seeking the council seat, but Maloney said that may be better for his campaign because “I’m too much of a competitive person” to run unopposed.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo