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Taj, Rios Score Stunning Council Wins in Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens

Ali Taj visits with Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper recently to talk about his campaign.  Randy Economy Photo

Ali Taj  wins campaign in Artesia. Randy Economy Photo

 

By Brian Hews

Two outside city council challengers in Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens have reshaped the political landscape here in Southeast Los Angeles County by capturing dramatic wins in Tuesday’s  Consolidated Election.

Ali Taj, a first time candidate for public office, and someone few longtime residents in Artesia had ever heard of less than three months ago, scored a stunning win over longtime incumbent Councilman John Lyon.

Taj, who is a professional financial consultant to large corporations took his grassroots campaign directly to the voters of Artesia by conducting an aggressive effort to in his words, “spend time and get to hear what is really on the minds of the residents of Artesia.”

Taj told Hews Media Group-Community Newspapers that he had “walked and canvassed” the entire City of Artesia “at least twice, if not three times.”

“The community wants at least one independent voice on the city council,” Taj said in a previous interview with the newspaper after the ballots were counted.

Incumbent Mayor Sally Zuniga Flowers and Councilman Victor Manalo also scored reelection wins on Tuesday with Flowers earning top vote.

Challenger Melissa Ramosa, who works for a California State Senator and Businessman Manu Patel finished behind Lyon.

Manalo also declared victory on Wednesday in an email to his supporters: “I am grateful to the voters for giving me the opportunity to serve them as their council member for four more years. While I am proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years, there is much more that needs to be done.  We need to recruit diverse businesses to Artesia to increase our revenues, and we need to invest those revenues into services and programs that meet the needs of our diverse residents, into improving our infrastructure, and engaging our residents in our city’s decision-making process,” Manalo said.

“I appreciate the support that you have given to me over the years, and I humbly ask for your continued support as we work to improve the quality of life for all Artesians,” Manalo concluded.

Here are the vote totals: Sally Flowers, 713;  Victor Manalo, 630; Ali S. Taj,  612; John P. Lyon 594; Melissa Ramoso 456; Manu Patel 288.

GARDEN PARTY FOR RIOS

In Hawaiian Gardens, challenger Mariana Rios scored a close win by defeating longtime incumbent Michi Oyama-Canada.

Incumbents Reynaldo Rodriguez and Barry Bruce also scored decisive wins by capturing the top two places in the election.  Rodriguez came in first place with a scant 345 votes, followed by Bruce with 318 and Rios garnered 218 to capture the third and final seat.  Oyama-Canada trailed with 195 votes.

With Rios winning it is unsure on who the next Mayor will be in the small municipality.

During the past four years, the Hawaiian Gardens City Council has been solidly controlled by current Mayor Victor Farfan, Councilman Mike Gomez and Oyama-Canada with Rodriguez and Bruce in the voting minority.

Now with the election of Rios, several longtime city hall observers believe that the new councilwoman-elect will cast the deciding vote on who will become the next mayor and mayor-pro tem for the next year.

Finishing behind in the balloting were Adrian Avelar, Priscilla Kwan, Phil An and Valerie Mason.

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