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Bell Gardens Residents Begin Recall of Mayor Cortez and Councilmen Aceituno and Barcena

RECALL: from (l-r) Mayor Cortez, Councilmen Barcena and Aceituno.



The attempted takeover of Bell Gardens by disgraced former Bell Gardens City Councilman Mario Beltran hit the skids this past week, much like the several candidates he was supporting in the cities of Commerce, Huntington Park and South Gate.

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has received documents that show a group of Bell Gardens residents obtained the required amount of signatures to start the recall process of Bell Gardens Mayor Alejandra Cortez and Council members Pedro Aceituno and Marco Barcena.

Under California Election Code, specific steps must  be taken to initiate the recall process.

The first step is to prepare the Notice of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition which must have the name of the officer to be recalled, a statement of not more than 200 words specifying the reasons for the recall, and the names and addresses of each proponent of the recall.

A NOI must be filled out for every official involved in the recall.

The NOI is subsequently served or sent via certified mail to each person being recalled and then filed with the city clerk within seven days of service/mailing. 

According to sources, Cortez, Aceituno, and Barcena were served February 24 and a copy was delivered to Bell Gardens City Clerk Jane Halstead within the seven day period.

But Halstead wrote a letter back to proponent Jose Lopez rejecting the NOI, indicating the NOI did not include Section 11023 of the Elections Code.

Section 11023 outlines how the elected official involved in the recall can file an objection with the Secretary of State to  “answer” the statement of the proponents. 

After the filing, the answer is not required to be included in any other recall documents.

Due to Halsted’s ruling, the proponents must re-start the process, serve the Mayor and each Councilman, and wait an additional seven days.

Once the NOI is properly filed, the proponents must run the notice in a newspaper of general circulation, file the notice with the city clerk, and begin the signature gathering process.

Aceituno NOI

The proponent’s alleged in the NOI aimed at Aceituno, “Under election law, you have placed personal interest above the interest of the community and enriched yourself, and your acquaintances  through the approval of various projects that have been brought forth to the Council pertaining to real estate development and public safety. You have subsequently and consistently failed to vote on critical matters that affect our city. You have a illegally attempted to hold incompatible public offices costing taxpayers money and being forced to resign by Los Angeles County District Attorney. You have failed to keep campaign promises to protect Bell Gardens from  the proliferation of cannabis businesses and the health and safety concerns such businesses will bring to the community.”

Aceituno works for VIP Realty in Bell Gardens, consistent with the allegations in the NOI, sources have told HMG-LCCN Aceituno has been involved in questionable real estate transactions involving the City.

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