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Guest Opinion: Central Basin Municipal Water District Candidates Becerra, Jaimes, and Barba Never Campaigned

Three cheers for James E. Becerra, Noel A. Jaimes and L. Hilary Barba.

Bravo for having your “E, A, and L” all appear on an actual election ballot!  I’m sure that official sample ballot pamphlet is now taking its proud place of distinction in that old family scrapbook.  You three are almost famous.

Never mind that you three didn’t actually do much more than file an application with the county to run.  Who cares that you didn’t open a committee or raise funds to conduct a legitimate campaign.

To his credit however, Jaimes actually went the extra mile to submit a candidate’s statement where we learned about Armando and his young wife Flavia leaving Palmar Chico, Mexico in 1955 searching for America.

Ah, I still get misty seeing a guy shamelessly self promote himself.

Congratulations Becerra, Jaimes and Barba, you three pulled down an impressive 13,504 votes in the Central Basin general election.  According to interviews that appeared in the press, you three claimed to have run “to clean up that nasty old Central Basin by removing the head of the snake,” the sexual harasser himself, Bob Apodaca.  Great plan indeed!  Place your name on the ballot, don’t campaign and pray for a miracle.  Our Founding Fathers would be proud.

But Bob Apodaca won with only 9,961 votes.  There are 159,439 registered voters in his Division…you do the math folks.

A fifth candidate, Tom Malkasian, took the election seriously.  He loaned himself $25,000 on the way to raising nearly $100,000.  He paid for a ballot statement in both English and Spanish.  He put up signs.  He put up a billboard along the 605 freeway.  He bought slate cards and mailed out numerous campaign flyers.  He invested in robo-calls featuring LA County Supervisor Don Knabe and former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte.  He received numerous endorsements including one from Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.  He hired phone bankers who repeatedly called registered voters with an appeal for support.  He concentrated his door-to-door precinct walking to Norwalk, where Apodaca had never faced voters before thanks to 2010’s redistricting. He took this election seriously and displayed his commitment like a true candidate should.

But Tom Malkasian received only 7,364 votes.

I was the first announced candidate seeking to unseat the corrupt Bob Apodaca.  I did what I could to lock in early key endorsements and attempted to secure the necessary financing to challenge an entrenched incumbent like Apodaca.  Then Tom Malkasian came along.  I met the man and discovered he had the tools at his disposal to actually accomplish the mission of cutting off the head of the snake.

As a result, I took a step back and acknowledged that the goal was to beat Apodaca and that the person most capable of achieving that goal was Tom, not myself.  For two weekends I walked side by side with Tom covering the streets of Norwalk where I have served as a Planning Commissioner for the past 19 years.

But Tom Malkasian still lost.

Becerra, Jaimes and Barba sliced away 13,504 votes.  I am assuming those 13,504 voters wanted Apodaca out as badly as Tom, and myself but they fell for the oldest trick in the political playbook and “split the vote.”

Had those three lined up their respective support behind the candidate who had made the maximum commitment, Bob Apodaca would be kicking down a six-pack right now at home on his couch counting the days till Central Basin sent him bouncing out their doors for the last time.

But that didn’t happen, did it?

Becerra, Jaimes and Barba certainly had the right to run, as did I.  But was it too much for them to ask themselves what their ultimate goal really was?  Was it to rid Central Basin of its culture of corruption?  Was it to prevent the ratepayers from funding another $670,000 sexual harassment settlement to cover Apodaca’s sexual perversions?  If it was, then why didn’t they run an actual campaign?

They didn’t and now it just seems to me that their selfishness killed Malkasian’s legitimate opportunity and now we’re stuck with Bob Apodaca for another four years.

I’m sure Apodaca wants to plant big wet kisses on the foreheads of Becerra, Jaimes and Barba right now….or did he simply fool us all by asking these three to run for him to win his reelection by splitting the vote?

Scott Collins

Norwalk, CA.

  • Not My Water says:

    Wow, you said it all Scott. Now we’re stuck with Apodaca and his two knucklehead sidekicks James “Teacher Jail” Roybal and Leticia “Recall Me” Vasquez. First we saw a third GM fired by these three fools and the hiring of another crocked law firm in Tafoya & Garcia. Could Ernie Camacho, Rudy Bermudez and Leon Garcia be far behind?