Alexander Balckburn has never campaigned for public office before and he likely won't need to in order to get elected to the Monrovia City Council.
The 34-year-old local attorney is one of two candidates for two open seats on the council, and unless someone mounts a successful write-in campaign, Blackburn is a shoe-in to get elected on his first try.
Still, Blackburn assured voters last week at a special council meeting that he intends to run his campaign as vigorously as he would have if he and fellow candidate Larry Spicer were competing against any challengers on the ballot. He made the same pledge in an interview with Patch this week.
"I anticipated there would be more people (running)," Blackburn said. "It doesn't mean I'm going to try any less diligently to get out in front of the public. I don't view the fact that nobody is running against Larry and I as an escape from the rigors of a campaign."
Blackburn plans to launch a campaign website in the next few days and his communications director has already scheduled speaking engagements and meet-and-greets with the public. And he has built relationships with other members of the council through his involvement in the Rotary Club, where he is currently the President-Elect.
Blackburn arrived in Monrovia in 2009, setting up his law practice in Old Town on Lemon Avenue after working for years at a firm in downtown Los Angeles. Specializing in business, real estate and bankruptcy law, Blackburn said his practice has become successful enough that he can take on new challenges, like a run for public office. Single and without children, Blackburn said he decided to run for office because he now has "the luxury of dedicating more time to my public life."
Identifying the elimination of the city's redevelopment agency as its primary economic challenge, Blackburn said one of his priorities is to help usher Monrovia into a new era of economic development without the help of redevelopment funds.
"I think that our city faces difficult fiscal challenges that are not unique but have not been faced in a long time," Blackburn said. "We have to look for creative new ways to raise money and to get things done with private money, private-public partnerships, if you will."
Blackburn grew up mostly in Lompoc, CA, and moved to northern California to attend Stanford University as an undergraduate. He later went to law school at Washington University in St. Louis and lived briefly in Washington D.C. before moving back to California to work as an attorney.
Blackburn has relatives in Monrovia and he said he became enamored with the town on visits over the years, particularly while living in Los Angeles.
"I'd show up here and I thought it's this great feeling of almost like peace and serenity," he said. "It was this really nice contrast with what I experienced all day long in downtown LA."
Describing himself as "fiscally conservative and socially fairly liberal," Blackburn is registered as an independent.
"I believe people work hard for their money and to the extent that the government takes it, the government has an obligation to spend it efficiently," he said. "I would say that I'm socially laissez-faire. As long as your don't hurt others, you know, do what you want."
If elected, Blackburn said he plans to focus on a platform that includes three main objectives: fostering economic development, supporting local law enforcement and promoting education. As far as local politics go, Blackburn said he'd prefer to avoid the drama.
"I could care less about squabbles between individuals or factions," Blackburn said. "It doesn't interest me. I consider it a waste of time, and really a distraction."
Former Rotary President Julie Roybal has worked alongside Blackburn and she described him as "very smart" and said his legal expertise has been an asset for the club.
"If Monrovia is his client he's going to take very good care of Monrovia," she said.
Monrovia's municipal elections will be held on Apr. 9.