For 20 years, Ruth Sterling has faithfully served La Mesa as a member of the City Council. Tuesday, voters decided they want four more years of that service—despite her mid-70s age.
Sterling, the only incumbent in the race, beat a group of very qualified candidates, earning the highest percentage of the vote, at 28.03 percent.
Celebrating with friends and family at Golden Hall, she said that she has a loyal group of supporters, including a specific demographic of La Mesans.
“I attribute [the win] to my faithful base. They have been so great in supporting me all these years,” said Sterling. “I just want to be sure and tell the senior citizens out there, don’t let up. Be always steadfast and stay with it. We senior citizens have a lot of power and we stay together. We can keep the country going on an even keel.”
Attorney Kristine Alessio, a member of the city’s Planning Commission, finished second in the voting, and will take over the seat vacated by councilmember Dave Allan. Allan accompanied Alessio to Golden Hall, where she celebrated with family and friends as well.
Alessio, who won 25.2 percent of the vote, said that she thinks her longtime involvement in the community is what made people want to vote for her.
“I’ve been involved in the community for 20 years. I’ve lived here forever. I was born in La Mesa,” she said. “Involvement is getting to know people. Whether it’s through the PTA, whether it’s through Peter Pan Jr. Theatre, whether it’s through the Planning Commission. It’s all those things. That’s what I think is the deciding factor. People know who I am and know what I’ve done.”
Saying that she promises to represent all La Mesans and no special interests, Alessio said she even has a “first-thing-I’m-gonna-do-if-elected” task at hand.
“The first thing I’m gonna do is get people to come out to the police department self-defense courses because we’ve had a lot of muggings,” she said.
“They are so preventable, and no one attends these courses. That’s something high on my list. I don’t want to hear about another person mugged at Grossmont Center, at the trolley, wherever. And I’ve already talked to Chief Aceves and that’s gonna be one of my pet projects.”
Local art gallery owner Shannon O’Dunn finished third in the voting with 21.7 percent. Catering manager Patrick Dean, who also lost in a bid for City Council in 2010, was fourth with 14.9 percent of the vote. And local Realtor Laura Lothian, who narrowly lost out to Mayor Art Madrid in 2010, finished fifth with 10.14 percent.
But for Sterling and Alessio, the night was a sweet one. Each wanted to take time to thank their supporters.
“I thank you so much for re-electing me, that you have the faith in me and I will go on and serve you without any kind of trepidation,” Sterling said. “I want to be an inspiration to all of the seniors. We’re strong and we will survive whatever the outcome is. I’m strong and I support all of you.”
Alessio said: “I really do have a grassroots campaign with volunteers and myself walking, and I could not have done it without them. We walked all of La Mesa. And I think that makes a difference. And I also could not have done it without the financial support of my husband, Steve. I told him it was my birthday present this year!”