Voters trickled into polling places Tuesday morning to decide the shape of their city council, the fate of the UUT extension and other issues facing the city in the 2012 election.
Polls opened at 7 a.m., and some voters--and even candidates--showed up at places like to get their voting done before starting the rest of their day.
"When I was younger, there used to be lines coming out [of polling places]," said city council hopeful John Harabedian, who was among the first to arrive at the church and cast his ballot. "We'll see."
Harabedian is one of six candidates for a council seat, along with , , , and incumbent
Also a hot topic is the , which is the focus of Measure 12-1. If Measure 12-1 passes, the UUT will be set at 10-percent until July 1, 2013. After that, the maximum collection rate will be 12-percent until June 30, 2018, unless the City Council decides to set a lower rate on or before August 1 of any year. After 2018, the UUT would drop to 8 percent in 2019, then 6 percent in 2020.
More voters filed in, and some of them offered their thoughts on the dawn of election day.
"I'm totally against taxes. I think the [council race] is split pretty much 50-50," said resident Darrell Wright after his voting turn. Copyright attorney Eric Bjorgum believed that "the city just needs to move forward. As somebody who has kids here, I just want the city to look to the future."
Outside of 's Hartzell Hall, 40-year resident Linus Pakulsky vented his displeasure about among residents and candidates leading up to election day, as well as the UUT.
"This city of three square miles is way too small to justify 31 police officers," he said. He then added that the results of the election could lead the city down an even rougher road than he sees now.
"We can go from where we are, to much worse," he said. "No one talks about the disclosure that this utility tax puts on the property owner. This the highest utility tax in the state of California, and they want to jack it up higher. Who in their right mind would want to live in Sierra Madre with a 10 or 12 percent utility tax when they can go to Monrovia for no utility tax, or to Glendora for no utility tax?"
Ronald Brandley, owner of , wasn't certain how the election was going to turn out for the council candidates.
"Signs don't necessarily indicate popularity, it indicates people are good at putting signs up. You could argue that if you eliminated the issue on the UUT, there doesn't seem to be anyone with a major agenda for Sierra Madre," he said outside of Sierra Madre Congregational Church. "I talked with someone who disagreed with me wholeheartedly on that, but that's why we have elections. I think it'll be close."