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Cerritos Councilman Cho, Candidates Kang and Ma Tried to Manipulate Cerritos 2013 Election

By Brian Hews, Randy Economy, and Rico Dizon


Cerritos City Council candidates K.Y. Ma, James Kang, and current Cerritos City Councilman Joseph Cho attempted to craft a deal with rival candidate K.Y. Ma last December in an attempt to manipulate the Cerritos March 5th election, as well as the 2015 Cerritos city council elections.

In the press conference, Cho said that Kang campaign advisors Larry Caballero and Alon Barlevy met with Ma, Cho, and several leaders of the Korean American community in December in hopes of having “just one Korean candidate” run for the city council.

On Tuesday, Ma produced an “Affidavit of Endorsement” that was allegedly written by Kang, to be signed by Ma that he would fully support James Kang for the council election in March 2015, in exchange for Kang dropping out of the 2013 race.

The letter that was dated December 4, 2012, drafted by two Kang campaign advisors, according to Cho.

The notarized affidavit was distributed at a press conference attended by the media and several Ma supporters at his campaign headquarters in Cerritos.

The affidavit stated:

“To James Kang: The undersigned Ki Yung Ma, under penalty of perjury states that upon the withdrawal of candidacy by James Kang for Cerritos City Council 2013, Ki Yung Ma will fully support and fully endorse James Kang for the City Council election scheduled in March 2015.”

“Ki Yung Ma will not run for the Cerritos City Council in March, 2015 and James Kang is the only Candidate that Ki Yung Ma will support and endorse in the Cerritos City Council election in March, 2015.”

“This endorsement is unconditional and irrevocable. The end.”

See document here.

The letter was signed by Ma on December 5, 2012 and has a Notarization Seal of Jeong Koo Rho.

On Tuesday, Ma denounced Kang’s campaign tactic and the affidavit even though he signed it in December.

Cerritos City Councilman Joseph Cho, confirmed that Kang “changed his mind at the last minute and decided to run.”

Cho said that Kang cited his current age and the amount of money he had already spent in the campaign.

Kang denied having any knowledge about the affidavit in a phone interview with LCCN.

“I have no comment, I have no idea, I don’t want to talk about this,” Kang said.

But in an email Kang sent out, given to the media at the conference Kang said, “these two documents (referring to the affidavits) should be signed and notarized by an escrow officer and handed them to me before the meeting.”

See document here.

Cho also signed a similar “Affidavit of Endorsement” that reiterated he would fully support Kang in 2015 if Kang would drop out of the 2013 campaign.

The affidavit said “The undersigned, Joseph Cho, under penalty of perjury states that upon withdrawal of candidacy by James Kang for Cerritos City Council in 2013, Joseph Cho will fully support and fully endorse James Kang for the City Council election scheduled in March 2015.  James Kang is the only candidate that Joseph Cho will support and endorse during the Cerritos City Council campaign in March 2015.  The endorsement is unconditional and irrevocable. The end.”

See document here.

Retired California State Assemblyman Tony Mendoza confirmed that he had “direct knowledge” of the affidavits between Kang, Ma and Cho and had spoken to both Ma and Kang and tried to serve as a moderator between the two campaigns.

“I applaud Mr. Kiyong Ma and I am here to fully support him,” Mendoza said.

Kang again reiterated to LCCN that he had “no idea about the situation.”

Chris Duvali, a key member of the Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club said that “K.Y. Ma has integrity and demonstrated better interaction with the community that’s why he gets the official endorsement of the Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club.”

Glenn Askland another resident of Cerritos for more than 30 years, and active in the Boy Scouts of America as a Troop Leader said that he has known K.Y. Ma for many years and he “believes that he has no other agenda or ulterior motives in running for City Council position in Cerritos.”  “Mr. Ma only cares about our children and our community,” Askland said.

Another outspoken supporter of Ma is Stephen Bova, President of the Cerritos Employees Union (AFSCME) said that his group supports Ma because he “does not reflect the views of typical politicians.  Mr. Ma cares about the welfare of all Cerritos employees.”

LCCN also asked challenger George Ray about the Ma-Kang dispute and said “I want to stay out of the fray, and wants to stick to the real issues in the campaign.”

Ray said he was “disappointed that candidates aren’t sticking to the real issues in making Cerritos better for the future.”

The press conference started with Ma intending to “clear himself” from having any part of a controversial advertisement that appeared during the past two issues of Los Cerritos Community Newspaper from Cerritos resident Young Park.  In the ads, Park revealed private details regarding an “extramarital affair” between his ex-wife and Kang for several years.

“I have no comment about the behind the scenes allegations and what did or did not happen in the past with Mr. Kang’s personal life,” Ma said.

“I am here to talk about my campaign for Cerritos City Council and why voters should vote for me,” Ma said.

“I do not see James Kang or Frank Yokoyama as my competition.  I see George Ray and Councilwoman Carol Chen as my main opponents,” Ma concluded.



  • Bill Raabe says:

    Let’s see if I get this right: 2 guys sign a written agreement to support each other for office, then one decides not to abide by the agreement. If there were no document, would this even be a topic of discussion? I know LCCN is trying to re-shape itself into the home of political expose, and it’s done quality reporting on Noquez and others. But this is just silly. There is no news here, no muck to be raked!!! C’mon LCCN. Focus on the issues—if there are any!!!

    • Bro Man says:

      I am glad you not teaching our children anymore here in Cerritos. You OBVIOUSLY have NO clue about about MORALS and ETHICS. What a SHAME.

      • Kenny Le says:

        Bro Man, what part of Bill Raabe’s posting did you find distasteful? If there was an agreement, Ma and Kang did nothing illegal. It’s not even certifiably immoral. As far as I know there is no law that says campaigns cannot talk or cut deals or make alliances. Can you cite one? Choices to run and not run campaigns are made all the time. Oftentimes, the reasons are far less noteworthy. Let me reiterate, Ma, Kang, and Cho did nothing illegal. They allegedly cut a deal that involved nothing criminal. These types of things happen ALL the time. “They” (if there is a “They” since one side questions the validity of the documents) wanted to present a united front with one Korean candidate to represent their interests on the City Council as a candidate. It’s perfectly legal and, frankly, it’s not a bad move politically. You usually don’t put it in writing since people can (and apparently, have) interpret it as being shady, but it’s simply not the case. If Gore and Nader did what Ma, Kang, and Cho allegedly did now in 2000 maybe we would have skipped 2 useless wars. Let me reiterate, no laws were breached (except good taste in some peoples’ eyes). No one will be prosecuted. If you can cite a single law they broke, I will be the first to admit a mistake, but event he article makes no mention of any laws broken or even breach of protocol. This is a non-story other than the fact that people enjoy tawdry details (of which, frankly, there were none). It’s manufactured outrage…not even juicy at that.

        • Bill Raabe says:

          Thank you Kenny. Since I don’t know who “Bro Man” is, I discount what he, she, or it says. Only cowards hide behind cute names.

          So, “Bro Man”, if you have something to say, come out of the shadows and let’s see who you are.

        • OMG says:


          A contract is a legally-enforceable promise or set of promises made by one party to another.

          A current councilman and two candidates and their campaign advisors get together, strike a deal for one to get out of the race (promise/agreement) in exchange for then endorsing him later (consideration), put it in writing and sign the documents.(agreement) AND NOTARIZE IT! WTF DO YOU WANT?

          Clearly a contract was formed to change the election and this is illegal under FPPC laws, you might want to consider another candidate

        • Kenny Le says:

          A contract is only valid if it is legally-binding AND at least one of the parties chooses to enforce it. The contract may not be legally-binding since it may not be able to be enforced in this case. Contracts are also null and void if they are legally invalid. If I sign a contract agreeing to rob a bank with you as my accomplice, guess what? It’s invalid even if it’s been notarized. I don’t think signing an agreement to not run can be enforced since it can be argued that it violates his constitutional freedom of speech without due process. If Ma decided to sue Kang over it then a judge and/or jury will decide whether it can be enforced. If not, then the contract cannot be enforced since there is no injured party. Second, the notary only agrees that he was a witness to the document. He does not determine whether it’s binding in a court of law. I hope you’re not a lawyer since you seem to have a very tenuous grasp on contract law. Please cite the case law since you say a contract of the nature allegedly made is illegal. You refer to nebulous FPPC laws, but nothing that says such agreements are illegal. Give me a civil code or case law. There was no cash exchanged and even if there was it can be framed as a donation if it was below a certain amount. There may have been some quid pro quo, but that is in no way illegal. Agreements to bow out if a like-minded candidate decides to run are made ALL the time. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, goes to jail over it because it is NOT illegal. Cite the actual law with links and I will change my tune, but until then, you’ve stated nothing but a set of flawed arguments based upon dubious logic. People canvass door-to-door for votes every election. None of them go to jail for “attempting to influence an election.” That is the most untenable catch-all statement you’ve made yet which leads me to believe that you’re grasping for an argument that, at best, is weak and, at worst, is intellectually dishonet.

          P.S. I don’t know if I will vote for any of these people. I have no horse in this race. I know some of the candidates, but not enough to feel some sense of remorse or celebration at their defeat or victory. I’ll decide on the issues…not this media circus that the election cycle has become.

    • OMG says:


      A contract is a legally-enforceable promise or set of promises made by one party to another.

      A current councilman and two candidates and their campaign advisors get together, strike a deal for one to get out of the race (promise/agreement) in exchange for then endorsing him later (consideration), put it in writing and sign the documents.(agreement) AND NOTARIZE IT! WTF DO YOU WANT?

      Clearly a contract was formed to change the election and this is illegal under FPPC laws, you might want to consider another candidate

  • Bro Man says:

    The Los Angeles County District Attorney needs to open an INVESTIGATION on this MATTER ASAP! Anyone with a BRAIN can see that his is a political pay off to keep a candidate out of a campaign. Bro.

  • FLF says:

    I seriously wonder why anyone with half a brain would get into the toxic soup that is any politics now days. There must be powerful attitudes and egos at work here.

  • McMahon, J. says:

    By: Jim McMahon, 37 Yr Resident.

    RE: YESTERYEARS: | Freeways | Auto Mall | 2 Shopping Centers |

    Article reminds me of the same old crap; dating back in to the 60’s-70’s; when Bellflower argued with double edge swords over:
    • Placement of 605-91 ramps.
    • Development of the Auto Mall and stole brokers from BF.
    • Development of LCC and stole stores from LW/Dow malls.
    • Development of the TC and how Wal-Mart purchased council votes, by offering free vouchers (tax free) to our seated council persons.
    • BAPTIST RELIGION controversy, over stores open on Saturdays and Sunday, allot of back door dealings…..

    MAYOR CHO: ———
    Remember when former Mayor Cho tried to have a pseudo back door contract w/ his appointees, guaranteeing not to run for office. Which is illegal to the max…..

    GEORGE RAY———-
    Remember when he spoke out against his colleague, Mr. Fuentes, (appointee) on the FAC, as Fuentes was trying to uncover corruption in the FAC, just like Mr Fuentes cousin was ostracized for identifying corruption in today’s Water Board servicing Cerritos. Look at the group photo, as looks like majority are from the Shadow Park HOA and isnt this unethical, to have Chen treasurer in your campaign photos, as is he serving a dual boards for 2 running candidates? Look at he web site, another {CLOSED BINDER}: 80% males, 20% Female, no blacks, no handicaps, no red heads, no youth!

  • I request a formal correction be made to the article titled, “Cerritos Councilman Cho, Candidates Kang and Ma Tried to Manipulate Cerritos 2013 Election”
    Written by By Brian Hews, Randy Economy, and Rico Dizon.

    I was referred to as a “lifelong Cerritos resident”, this is incorrect. After twenty one years as a resident of Cerritos I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. Upon graduating, I moved back to Cerritos for another four years and now reside in Long Beach, Belmont Shore.
    I was quoted as stating “K.Y. Ma has integrity and demonstrated better interaction with the community that’s why he gets the official endorsement of the Los Angeles and California Democratic Party.”

    I did not compare K.Y. Ma to any other candidates, I solely conveyed his qualities. Also, I did not state K.Y. Ma had the official endorsement of the Los Angeles and California Democratic Party. The only formal endorsement I stated K.Y. Ma has is that of the Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club which is charted by the party. I am neither an official spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party nor an official spokesperson for the California Democratic Party. I am an alternate for the Los Angeles Democratic Central Committee and a Delegate for the California Democratic Party.

    And no members of the Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club Executive Board knew of the existence of the affidavits prior to, February 5, 2013.

    I request these corrections me made immediately.


    Christopher J. Duvali
    Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club

  • K.Y. Ma says:

    I want to clarify what was said on the article about me and Kang. The agreement between us was discussed before Kang and I became an official candidate. We were just tying to unite the Korean American community behind one candidate in Cerritos.
    We even agreed to hold a press conference; however, Kang changed his mind and when he became an official candidate, we stopped the discussion.
    There were no conspiracy to manipulate the election. In addition, Tony Mendoza was kind enough to mediate between me and Kang; he was not involved in the detail of the agreement.

    K.Y. Ma

    • Concerned Resident says:

      Open letter to Mr. K. Y. Ma,

      If a “White” candidate were to state that he or she were trying to unite the “White” community behind one candidate, who also happened to be “White,” they would be called a “RACISTS.” Please, explain how your comments should be taken any differently?

      Instead of attempting to divide this city, by race, I would suggest that you encourage all Cerritos voters to unite behind the best candidate, no matter their race. I suggest you also do the same.

      Communities are torn, in part, due to individuals like yourself who tout the RACE CARD, at election time. We need people on our Council who can fix the problems not create more. We need Council Members who are willing to be inclusive to all races and not exclusive to their own race.

      And please, don’t give us the line that a politician of any particular race can better understand and can better serve people from their own culture. Because, if that is true and you believe it then you are not qualified to understand or serve the rest of the community.

      If you are the Christian you claim to be, I suggest you evolve beyond the racial litmus test.

      • Kenny Le says:

        For the record, I don’t recall having ever met Mr. Ma nor do I know anything about him so don’t take this as an endorsement of him or his policies. I just don’t know him.

        That being said, you are way off base about what is or is not racism. If everything were equal, then any calls for an ethnic candidate would be racism. However, everything is not equal and that is one thing that is both obvious to everyone and is sorely lacking in your comment. You completely ignore context. Historically speaking, minority groups in the United States have always been, and continue to be, considered the foreign “other” in media, political representation, and even in legal rights. You cannot, with any authority, state otherwise. You can’t, so please don’t even try. Minority groups have ALWAYS had to fight for equal and fair representation in every facet of society except in tiny niche markets. That has not been the case for what you consider “whites”. They have always been considered the dominant demographic within a few generations of landing at Plymouth rock. That is not open for any intelligent discussion since it is undeniable. For you to equate a “whites” candidate who is a member of the dominant social class with the desire for fair representation by any minority class is disingenuous. Seeking fair representation for your social class at the ballot box keeps with the finest traditions of democracy within the republic. It’s not a privilege, it’s an expectation that the governed be represented among those that govern. It absolutely is a basic tenet of our entire political system. What you’ve put forth is a logical fallacy based upon false equivalency. If you need the time, go ahead and look it up. What’s next? A straw man argument buttressed by ad hominem attacks on his character? Now, let’s say that this fantasy world of sweeping social equality exists and that a “white” representation candidate came to the fore? Suppose this was viewed as racist. As despicable as it would be, it is not illegal. It is protected speech under the first amendment as long as it does not incite violence or encourages physical harm to another person. If racism were illegal, the Klan would not exist, nor would the Aryan Brotherhood. They do exist, legally I might add, and their speech is protected as it should be, despite how personally distasteful the majority of our country finds it to be. The only people in this entire argument that played the racism card was you and McMahon (who, in all honesty, seems unhinged sometimes). Go ahead, read all the comments. Nobody has brought up racism except you and McMahon; consider that for a moment.

        While you do that, consider the following as well: no law was broken here and that seems to be something a lot of commenters don’t seem to understand. Political deals are brokered all the time to both break and form alliances. Nothing is wrong with that. No money was exchanged, there was no breach of the public trust, and this has gotten ugly for the sake of generating false controversy. The only unseemly thing in whole arrangement was that it was in writing. They are usually done with a handshake and a gentleman’s agreement. Hardly binding in court, but if you’re good with your word, it should suffice. It would be like me painting my bedroom black. Unusual, but nothing illegal about it. The one thing you and I agree upon is that whomever gets elected to the City Council has the responsibility of representing all of Cerritos. There is nothing wrong with wanting your needs to be heard as long as you don’t prevent other people’s concerns from being addressed.

        For the record, I am not Korean, nor should it matter even if I was.

        • Concerned Resident says:

          Mr Kenny Le, Let’s start by suggesting you take a moment and reread what was written. I will help you. The key words to look for are in the first paragraph, “..they ‘would call it’ Racists.”

          Now, take a deep breath and look up the term, “Melting Pot.”

          Once you have done that, take a good hard look at the American Flag. Smile, be thankful, be proud and recite the pledge of allegiance. Then read my second paragraph. “Instead of attempting to divide this city, by race, I would suggest that you encourage all Cerritos voters to unite behind the best candidate, no matter their race.” Mr. Lee, does the word “indivisible” help you understand the principles for which as a great nation we strive?

          Are you feeling okay? If so, reread where you wrote, “What’s next? A straw man argument buttressed by ad hominem attacks on his character?”

          Ready? Now read down form there a few lines and look what you, the guy playing Mr. High and Mighty wrote. “… McMahon (who, in all honesty, seems unhinged sometimes).” Wow! I guess a direct attract on someone by you is okay in your world?

          You talk a good game, but your thoughts are twisted. Need I point out that you suggest in your last paragraph because no laws were broken it is okay?

          At times, Mr. Lee, there is a morally higher ethical calling. You seem to understand this, but for some reason don’t make the connection. Recall, you wrote, ” If racism were illegal…” You acknowledge that racism is not illegal so, are you suggesting it is morally ethical? I hope not.

          For the record, I am not Korean either. I am an American, by choice! Where my family came from shouldn’t matter in American politics.

        • McMahon, J. says:

          Open Letter: RE: Korean Political Pack.
          By: Jim McMahon, 37 Yr Resident.


          This LCCN column is open to all to read and write. Very few of us original Home Owners in the city, can analyze L O N G -T E R M political data:

          1. Voting ‘Hoods,
          2. Homeownership,
          3. ABC District.
          4. Staffing and development….

          ……lets say for almost the past C E N T U R Y; this said, we can be pessimistic and analyze data, and call the shots of political racial dividing. If you want to be optimistic in interpreting the Sun Shine data, that is your prerogative.

          ———Received hundreds of emails from both City Staffers, former 90703 Mayors/councilpersons; long time Residents and from Residents who left the city! All saying the same, this is poss. one of the weakest Candidates running for office; plus the election has uncovered probably the all time highest amount of crime or borderline tainted ethics in our 90703 History of Yesteryears.

          {BTW} when we moved in to Cerritos, there was an excellent young 90703 Councilperson, ((attorney-at law)), who was seated in office for one cycle. Did not re-run. We (Lrg Group) asked why not reconsider rerunning for office…….Reply….. “ I value my career as an attorney and do not want to proceed in politics, as what I have seen in my office of (4) four yrs., in this city, is allot of so so Poss. corruption and non- qualified people”!

          ADDITIONALLY: Another full term councilperson left, never to live in this city again. Almost week after leaving office, moved out of county, as said …”Both Cerritos and Los Angeles have a lot of corruption, including friends on the council + trustees”…………………… opps, forgot another racial card player….who was absent more then present, as always abroad in China and not to fullfill elected duties as councilperson.

          ***My Opine, very unethical, political incest:
          • Chamber of Commerce Forum, should not be propounding Questions to one and their own board member, seeking office: George Ray.
          • Chamber Board member D Needham, CC board member, is employed as realtor by council person Carol Chen, who is seeking office.
          • Mrs. Hughlett is board member and delegated her husband (Bobbby) to help in Mgmt of the broadcast forum, in order to pimp (QA) by a former 90703 Mayor. Favorite questions were propounded.
          • Brown Act states forbids 5 Cerritos Council present at one time, especially when the Candidates Forum was about 90703 and the current elected councilpersons were propounded the questions to the 5/7 candidates running for office.

          Summary, all of the GLOBAL wannabee politicians, parachuting in from other countries is okay, but don’t try to change our Lands Politics, with tainted politics and steering from other worlds. Cerritos is in the process of decaying by Bell Politics and becoming one of the 4 —C–Sister Cities: Cudhay | Compton | Carson | Cerritos|

          //jm 2/09/13

  • Concerned citizen says:

    Mr. Raabe:

    Transparency Mr. Raabe, full disclosure.

    You were a teacher at Gahr and Whitney, you wrote all literature for Mark Pulido and his campaign. You are working for Yokoyama, and will write all his literature. Retired teacher and Union guy. Also a Bruin like Pulido.

    You don’t even live in Cerritos, what’s you skin in the game Mr. Raabe?

    Your credibility in writing letters is finished.

    • Bill Raabe says:

      As you are a “concerned citizen”, you might want to concern yourself with some facts. I wrote a statement on behalf of Mark Pulido when he first ran for office. I have spoken on his behalf at a number of events. I have supported him in his elections and I think very highly of him. He is my friend. I have written no campaign literature for Frank Yokoyama and have no involvement in his campaign. Do you even know what “all” means?

      You did get a few facts correct. Yes, I am a retired teacher from Gahr and Whitney. Yes, I was active in teacher representation in the ABC Teachers Association before the current union took over. And yes, I am a proud UCLA Bruin. Of course, that’s all a matter of public record, so a well-trained baboon could find it.

      I am fascinated by someone who is so concerned about transparency and full disclosure for others, yet shuns it for him-, her-, or itself. I’ve dealt with political cowards like you much of my life. YOU want to talk to me about credibility??? If I were a DJ, I would dedicate the next song to you: “Send In the Clowns.”

      My “skin in the game” is my 34 years of teaching in Cerritos. There are many people in Cerritos whom I consider friends and family. And unlike you and “Bro Man” and other cowards, I don’t hide behind cute little cover names.

  • McMahon, J. says:

    Open Letter: Council Candidates.
    By: Jim McMahon, 37 Yr Resident.


    Very sad the race card was played during the entire forum, by most of the candidates answering questions propounded by the Chamber and free balling from the audience!!!!

    My video computer was jumping on overtime, counting all of the words be repeated over and over:
    • Asian;
    • Chinese;
    • Korean;
    • Whitney High School;
    • Budget;
    • Economy…..

    Sure bet if a White candidate used these words, the ACLU would start litigation, compared to the Samoan’s Baptist Litigation, for discrimination, at the tune of costing the city and sheriffs ($6M-$9M) back in the 70’s……….

    ………Hmmmmmm, State does not allow campaigning on any city-state compounds, so why was campaign literature advertised in the Public staging area of the Council Chambers during this forum? Violation of Voting Bylaws! How dumb the Chambers staffers are…….. Even more upset, council candidate Franks ( Briefs) Yokahama were allowed to pimp the Planning Commission audience to pass out pins. Boy I can see why the BAR ethics hearings mandate ETHICS classes for this candidate, as this is a big no no for pimping season for votes. Two sets of rules, as city Code Enforcement removes political signs from public areas, but allows campaign signs on public property at the city council chambers……….boy yrs ago, this was not tolerated, times have relaxed. Hope next weeks forum, the KKK advertises in the council chambers, in support of one candidate.

    Another odd wrench, the Woman’s Club is sponsoring a forum, why cant the questions come from smart phone audience and why cant these Holier then God Grp, ever come to a commission hearing to salute the flag & or come to Recreation Hearings to motivate Seniors Activities?

    //jm 2/07/13