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By Randy Economy
Area voters went to the ballot box in droves on Tuesday and several new faces have been elected to serve in the California State Assembly, Cerritos College Board of Trustees, as well as a new District Attorney in Los Angeles County.
Two veteran members of the United States House of Representatives, Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez, and Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano were easily reelected in two different districts as was Long Beach State Senator Alan Lowenthal who squeaked out a win for a new Congressional seat that stretches into West Orange County.
Below is a wrap up of the election results. There are still thousands of additional late vote by mail ballots that will be tabulated over the next week to 10 days, according to Dean Logan, Registrar Recorder for the County of Los Angeles.
State Assembly 57th District
Upstart Democratic candidate Ian Charles Calderon easily defeated Republican Party candidate and La Mirada businessman Noel Jaimes to capture the new Assembly district that includes Norwalk and La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs into parts of Whittier.
Calderon, 27, garnered 63% of the vote to Jaimes 37%. A graduate in Political Science and Communications from Cal State Long Beach, Calderon grew up in the 57th District, where he currently works within the community as a Field Deputy for a local Assemblyman. This was his first attempt at public office and comes from a family of several elected officials including his father Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, uncle State Senator Ronald Calderon, and Uncle Tom Calderon who is also a former Assemblyman.
State Assembly 58th District
Democratic community organizer Cristina Garcia cruised to an easy election win over Republican businesswoman Patricia Kotze-Ramos to capture the newly created 58th Assembly District that includes the cities of Cerritos, Artesia, and west to Bell Gardens.
The campaign was embroiled in controversy during the final weeks leading up to Tuesday’s balloting.
Garcia issued a statement clarifying that she did not complete all of her educational requirements in her Doctoral program from the University of California in spite of past statements in which she referred to herself as “Dr. Cristina Garcia” in campaign materials.
Kotze-Ramos was hit with a blistering civil lawsuit one week before the election by a former female employee of her and husband George Ramos that including charges of sexually harassment. Kotze-Ramos vehemently denied the allegations in the lawsuit and lashed out by calling the charges “garbage” and “an outright lie.”
Garcia scored a solid win over Kotze-Ramos and garnered nearly 72% of the vote to 28% for Kotze-Ramos.
State Assembly 63rd District
Lakewood and Hawaiian Gardens and Paramount will now be represented by Democrat Anthony Rendon who cruised to an easy election win over Republican Jack Guerrero. Rendon, who moved into the District earlier this year to run for Assembly was the handpicked candidate of California State Assembly Speaker John Perez.
Rendon had the backing of several local labor unions as well as key local Democratic Party community leaders. The district was considered to be a “Safe Democratic” district due to an overwhelming voter registration advantage over the Republican Party.
Rendon served as adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at California State University, Fullerton from January 2001 to May 2008, and previously worked with the California League of Conservation Voters, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; AIDS Walk Los Angeles; and Refugio Para Niños Foster Family Agency.
In his campaign he pledged to work on several “public transportation projects, coordinating public input, making sure neighborhood concerns were addressed and helping build community coalitions.”
Rendon received 74% of the vote to Guerrero’s 26%.
INCUMBENTS DUMPED AT CERRITOS COLLEGE
Voters swept in an entire new Cerritos College Board of Trustees majority on Tuesday in a race for five newly created district area boundaries.
Voters defeated longtime incumbents Ted Edmiston and Tom Jackson as well as Appointed Incumbent Jean McHatton and first term incumbent Tina Cho. This was the first time in the history of Cerritos College in which voters tossed out four incumbents in one election.
Cerritos College Trustee Area One
In Trustee Area One, popular incumbent Robert “Bob” Arthur easily defeated Downey community activist Leonard Zuniga by a wide margin of 61% to 39%. Ironically, Zuniga was one of the major proponents to have Cerritos College placed into district trustee election zones.
Arthur is a former Norwalk city councilman and Mayor and was able to garner a solid base of support from Downey residents that ensured his election win.
“I ran a hard campaign. We move forward now. I believe the four new members have the best interest of Cerritos College at heart,” Arthur said.
Arthur discounted the assertion that “voter anger” had anything “to do with the defeat” of trustees Ted Edmiston, Tom Jackson, Jeanne McHatton, or Tina Cho. “I can’t speak on what the voters were thinking,” Arthur said. “But, I do believe it is time for a change.”
Cerritos College Trustee Area Two
South Gate City Clerk Carmen Avalos, a former Cerritos College Trustee defeated incumbent Tom Jackson by a margin of 66% to 34%. Avalos was a vocal advocate of having Cerritos College placed into seven individual district elections. Jackson has been a fixture at Cerritos College for decades as both an instructor and as an elected Trustee. Avalos previously served on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees for one term in the past.
Cerritos College Area Three
Bellflower educator John Paul Drayer won election to a two-year unexpired term against Appointed Incumbent Jeanne McHatton by a wide margin of 68% to 32%.
McHatton, an influential Cerritos community leader, was appointed by the current Cerritos College Board of Trustees to fill the vacancy created by the death of longtime Trustee Robert “Bob” Epple in 2011.
Drayer, an outspoken critic of board policies ran on a platform as being an “outsider for change.” He is also an active member of the Democratic Party and garnered support from several local elected leaders including State Senator Alan Lowenthal.
Cerritos College Area FOUR
Challenger Marisa Perez appears to have scored a stunning narrow victory over longtime incumbent Dr. Ted Edmiston.
Perez eked out the razor thin victory of around 1 percent over Edmiston who has been a fixture on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees.
Several additional late ballots still need to be counted by election officials. As of Thursday afternoon, Perez held a 147 vote lead over Edmiston.
Perez is a Lakewood resident with children attending schools in the Bellflower Unified School District. She told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that if elected her main priority would be to “ensure Cerritos College continues to be responsive to the needs of our diverse community.”
Perez touted her experience as a 15 years as a “taxpayer advocated” who has worked for education reforms, transportation, health care and air quality issues.
“Cerritos College students need to be adequately prepared to advance to a four year college or attain the skills necessary to compete in today’s global job market,” Perez told LCCN.
Cerritos College Area SIX
Norwalk newcomer Dr. Sandra Salazar, MD, soundly defeated one term incumbent Tina Cho from Cerritos by a wide margin of 60% to 40%.
Earlier this year, Los Cerritos Community Newspaper reported that Cho, and other current members of the Cerritos College Board of Trustees had taken tens of thousands of dollars in cash in lieu payments instead of receiving taxpayer provided health care benefits. Salazar focused on that issue during the hard fought campaign.
Salazar said she “understands the importance of access to higher education first hand” calling for the “transformative power of educational opportunities.”
“My vision is that all students at Cerritos Community College have the same opportunities I was fortunate enough to receive,” Salazar said.
Salazar also strongly supports the “evolving role of the community college system as the largest work force training provider in our State and key to the economic recovery of our region.”
Arthur told LCCN that he and Salazar and Perez had met for a post campaign breakfast to begin establishing “a positive working foundation, for the good of Cerritos College.”
Cerritos College Measure G
Voters also passed Measure G that will ensure more than $350 million for upgrades to the campuses communications infrastructure and other modernization projects.
“Approval of this bond measure will enable the college to provide facilities that support academic and vocational programs that meet the changing needs of our students and better serve our community,” said Cerritos College President Dr. Linda Lacy in a statement to the media earlier in the campaign.
Supporters of Measure G, including former ABC Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Smuts told voters in campaign mailing that the passage of bond would provide “a stable and locally controlled source of funding that will update classrooms, labs and job-training facilities, which would ensure a safe and technologically-advanced learning environment for the community” Arthur also said he was “overjoyed” that voters approved Measure G. “The voters understood the importance of investing in Cerritos College,” he said. Arthur also said he was “pleasantly pleased” that bond measure passed so “overwhelmingly.” “We must be doing something right, for the voters to approve this bond,” Arthur quipped
MEASURE M CITY OF ARTESIA
Voters in Artesia approved Measure M on Tuesday by a margin of 78% to 22%. The Artesia City Council placed the business license hike on the ballot earlier this year after California state lawmakers took away local redevelopment agencies.
Backers of the measure said in the campaign that “Artesia’s local budget and is the most significant reason why Artesia City Council recently declared a fiscal emergency in June. Measure M will help maintain current levels of public safety and street maintenance, and give Artesia local control over its funds, which will be used strictly for the people of Artesia. Measure M is an update to a business license fee, which has not been updated in over 20 years.” Measure M will ensure that “larger corporations” in Artesia will pay more, while smaller businesses keep the same rates. The City worked with local businesses and community leaders to develop the ballot plan.
MEASURE I City of La MIRADA
La Mirada voters approved Measure I on Tuesday that is a one percent “transaction and use tax” this supporters claim will generate some $25 million in new revenues for infrastructure repairs over the next five years.
The tax is expected to begin in April of 2013. It passed by a margin of 65% to 35%.
Measure I was placed on the ballot by La Mirada City Council members after a 29-member Citizens Task Force on City Finances and Operations recommended the action “due to the cumulative impacts of the national recession, ongoing takes of local revenues by the State, and the elimination of redevelopment agencies in California.”
Tom Robinson, City Manager for La Mirada said that Measure I spending will focus on repairing streets, storm drains and other infrastructure. A recent engineering review of La Mirada’s infrastructure identified more than $67 million in needs. Measure I also will require an annual independent outside audits and citizen oversight of how tax revenues are going to be spent.
LA PALMA CITY COUNCIL: 3 Elected
Voters elected three council members on Tuesday with wins for challengers Peter Kim and Gerard Goedhart as well as the reelection of incumbent Steve Shanahan.
Kim, who is a lifelong resident of La Palma, had the backing of several key elected members of the Republican Party including popular Rep. Ed Royce. Goedhart, who is a former city councilmember in Signal Hill, campaigned on a platform of being an “outsider” who demanded more fiscal accountability from city officials for the cash strapped municipality. Shanahan was reelected by edging out challenger Robert Carruth.
Finishing behind were former Councilwoman Christine Barnes, and challengers Patricia “Pat” Craig and Sylvia Colannio Smith.
Los Angeles County District Attorney
Los Angeles County has a new District Attorney in Jackie Lacey who breezed past challenger Alan Jackson on Tuesday. Lacey, who was endorsed by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, was praised by current District Attorney Steve Cooley in a press conference on Wednesday as being the “right leader for the job.”
Lacey becomes the first African American and first female to be elected as District Attorney in the history of LA County. In an emotional victory speech on Tuesday night at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles, Lacey publicly thanked her family and mother for giving her the “foundation and inspiration and courage” to succeed.
Lacey told LCCN in an interview on Tuesday night that she was “thrilled, honored and frankly overwhelmed” with the results. Lacey also said that she will continue to “keep elected officials accountable who break the law in the future.”
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