MONTEREY PARK — In an election that could have all kinds of historic ramifications, voters here will go to the polls March 3 to elect three members of the City Council.
All three incumbents — Mitchell Ing, Teresa Real Sebastian and Anthony Wong — are seeking re-election.
Their three challengers are Joe Avila, Delario Manuel Robinson and Stephen Lam.
If Ing and Lam are re-elected and Lam unseats Sebastian, Monterey Park would be the first city in the country to have an all-Chinese City Council.
If Sebastian loses to Avila or Robinson, the city would have its first all-male City Council in more than 40 years.
And if Robinson is elected, he would become the first black to serve on the Monterey Park City Council.
The ethnic makeup of the city has been making news for years.
In the 1980s, Lily Chen became the first Chinese-American mayor of a U.S. city.
The 1970 census showed that Monterey Park was 56 percent white, 27 percent Latino and 17 percent Asian.
Forty years later, Asians make up 68 percent of the city’s population, the largest percentage of Asians found in any city in Los Angeles County. Latinos still make up 27 percent of the population but the white population only accounts for five percent of the city’s populace.
The population shift hasn’t come without its price. In the 1980s, as more Asians moved into cities, a gas station had a slogan painted on its window that became a popular bumper sticker in town. It said: “Will the last American to leave Monterey Park please bring the flag.”
Whites, who still made up a majority of the City Council at the time, tried to pass a law requiring English only on storefronts and business signs.
The city came close to electing an all-Chinese City Council four years ago but Sebastian was elected instead.
This time around, Lam, a member of the city’s Planning Commission has raised almost $120,000 for his campaign, a sizable amount for a city of slightly more than 60,000 people.
Polls open at 7 a.m. on election day and close at 8 p.m.
Voters may wake up March 4 to learn they have made history.