Winners in Los Alamitos Race Share Concern Over City’s Image

Times Staff Writer

The election of incumbent Anthony R. Selvaggi and new members Robert P. Wahlstrom and Alice B. Jempsa to the Los Alamitos City Council Tuesday was also a victory for the common theme in each of their campaigns--keeping the city of 11,500 people attractive to business and potential residents.

Incumbent Mayor Selvaggi, 61, who is “very comfortable” with his second-term victory, said he plans to vigorously pursue the Neighborhood Pride Program he established to encourage residents to beautify their homes.

Selvaggi, who took 24.9% of the vote, said he would enforce the program because of the constituency’s concern with maintaining the image of the community. “It keeps property values up and makes the community generally attractive to businesses and prospective homeowners,” he said.

Selvaggi, a former planning commission member who now serves on the Orange County Airport Land Use Commission, said he also plans to organize a city emergency preparedness council to update the training of city employees and outline their roles and duties in an emergency.


Also included in his agenda is the streamlining of the “cumbersome” red tape involved for getting building permits and plans approved by the city.

Wahlstrom, the third vote-getter with 17.4% of the ballots, said he was “satisfied and relieved” by the election results. “It’s nice to know you have the support of that many people to get elected,” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom, 53, said he had no major changes or sweeping reforms in mind for city hall, but his main goal was to be tougher than his predecessors in enforcing existing city codes. These codes include weed and nuisance abatement programs for overgrown lots and abandoned property, he said. “We’re too easy on property owners, we give them more time than they need” to clear property, Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom, a vice president with Specialty Restaurant Corp. in Long Beach and a member of the planning commission for 10 years, said he also plans to take a “tougher stance on parking violations,” including parking recreational vehicles and boats on residential streets.


He added that his work on the Planning Commission with Selvaggi and Councilman Paul Bernal, who was not up for reelection this year, would make his work on the council easier because he is familiar with their personalities. “I don’t see any major personality or issue clashes there at all,” he said.

Jempsa, a teacher and assistant principal at Leal Elementary School in Cerritos, was the surprising leader in the six-way election for three seats, winning 26.5% of the votes. “I was really totally surprised by the results. I had hoped to do well, but doing as well as I did was a wonderful surprise,” she said.

In addition to maintaining development compatible with other buildings in the city through the Architectural Review Program, Jempsa’s main focus will be to listen to the concerns of the public, she said. “If we listen to them (the residents), we won’t go far wrong on what’s good for the community,” Jempsa said.

After talking with residents, Jempsa said the “people are very interested in maintaining the quality of life they have in the city.” She also seeks to maintain and improve city services and ensure that the parks and recreation program continues to meet the needs of a changing community, she said.


Councilman Dave Lander, who did not run for a third term, said Jempsa’s background in education and Wahlstrom’s experience in business, and their past involvement in the community, would lend positive qualities to the council. All three will be sworn into office Tuesday.

Lander said the present council members, as well as those newly elected, would continue to favor low-key development in the city’s business district. “We’ve had a pretty consistent philosophy for the last 12 years. I do expect it to continue,” he said. “I feel very optimistic about the city, that it will continue on the same keel it has in the past.”