ALHAMBRA — Aerospace engineer Eric Sunada is running for the District 1 seat on the Alhambra City Council in the Nov. 4 election, challenging incumbent Stephen Sham.

A product of the California public school system, Sunada has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Irvine and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC San Diego. He lives in Alhambra with his wife, Farida, and their dog, Chappy.

A registered professional engineer in California, he works for the California Institute of Technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where he is the technical group supervisor for the Thermal Technology and Fluid Systems group. Projects he has worked on include the Mars Rover.

A very relieved Eric Sunada at Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after the successful landing of the Mars Rover.
A very relieved Eric Sunada at Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after the successful landing of the Mars Rover.

Sunada served on the Board of Directors for the San Gabriel Municipal Water District from 2003 to 2006. During his tenure, he helped to secure over $3.9 million in grants and zero-interest loans to build the city’s groundwater water treatment plant to remove volatile organic compounds and nitrates from the water supply.

In 2006, he founded the San Gabriel Valley Oversight Group, a non-profit public benefit corporation with a mission to promote environmental and social justice through community involvement at the local level.

Sunada has also served Alhambra as a member of the Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“We have enjoyed living in Alhambra for 20 years,” he said in a statement. “But there are issues hurting our community that need addressing … I will fight irresponsible development, water contamination, traffic. And I will promote good paying jobs, a healthy environment, open government, and building a better community. Development of the city should uplift the community, not bring it down …

“I envision a more unified city, one that considers input from all its citizens, one that is both environmentally and economically sustainable, and one that promotes the health, education and livelihoods of everyone who lives here.”

Sunada has been endorsed by the Alhambra Democratic Club.

Incumbent Sham was first elected in November 2006. He graduated from Daniel Murphy High School in Los Angeles and from Cal State L.A. with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and is also a 1999 graduate of the Alhambra Citizen’s Police Academy.

He and his wife, Rebecca, operate Plaza Printing in Alhambra, which was named Business of the Year by the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce in 2006. They have a daughter, Kristie.

Sham is a board member and past president of the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District; a member of the League of California Cities’ Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee; immediate past president of the National League of Cities’ Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials and of Chinese American Elected Officials; a former member of the Alhambra Planning Commission; and past vice chair of the city’s Transportation Commission and Valley Boulevard Business Development Consistency Committee.

A member of the Alhambra Hospital Medical Center Governing Board, Sham has served as president of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Alhambra; trustee of the Alhambra Historical Society; executive board member of West San Gabriel Valley YMCA; member of the Alhambra Hospital Community Advisory Board; and chair of the Mission Amigos District Fundraising Committee, Boy Scouts of America.

“My priorities are to make sure Alhambra is a safe community, where kids can get a quality public education and where businesses and families can succeed and thrive,” Sham said in an interview with Alhambra Source. “I want to make sure businesses and families have access to the resources they need — well-maintained streets, utilities, and an environment conducive to business.”

City Council members serve four-year terms; municipal elections are held every other year. Each council member serves as mayor for a nine-month period. In addition to Sham, the current council members are Mayor Gary Yamauchi (District 3), Vice Mayor Luis Ayala (District 5), Barbara Messina (District 2) and Steven Placido (District 4).

Because Ayala and Messina were running for re-election unopposed, they will be automatically reappointed.

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