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Conflicts of Interest are Rife as Cerritos City Council Attempts to Change Its Election Date

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April 7, 2023

By Brian Hews

The Cerritos City Council, at an upcoming, hastily called and questionably public noticed Monday, April 10 “Special Meeting,” will vote to change the city’s election date by repealing a 2021 city ordinance, moving the election date from April 9, 2024 to March 4, 2025, taking the election from a California primary election year with a larger turnout to a non-primary, lower turnout year, while adding another year to all council member’s terms.



If taken and approved, the vote will expose a conflict of interest involving Mayor Chuong Vo, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Barrows, and Councilman Naresh Solanki that should attract the attention of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and the California Secretary of State.

The idea to move the election date to 2025 was approved during two sparsely attended Cerritos City Council summer meetings conducted April 28, 2022 and July 28, 2022, with Councilmember Bruce Barrows making the motion to approve, seconded by Councilman Naresh Solanki.

The City Council staff report cited “significant operational and legal challenges [would be] anticipated due to the election’s close proximity to the California presidential primary scheduled for March 5, 2024,” despite the fact Cerritos’ municipal election was thirty-four days later on April 9.

The council opened the floor for public comment at the July 28 meeting, but it was reported in the staff report that no one was there.

The motion to move the election date passed 3 to 2, with Vo, Barrows and Solanki voting yes and Councilmembers Lynda Johnson and Frank Yokoyama voting no.

The approval set into motion a time-sensitive process to move the election date from ’24 to ’25, which was placed on the upcoming April 10, 2023 Special Meeting agenda, item 9D.

Under city and state law, the meeting to change the election date must be properly noticed, meaning the public must be given an opportunity to read the proposed changes and provide public comment; but even that process was questionable.

According to the staff report, the April 10 meeting was “properly noticed [Wednesday] April 5, 2023. Under normal circumstances, the city would also publish a “Notice of Special Meeting” in Los Cerritos Community News, which is the paper of record for the city, alerting residents of the April 10 meeting, but a notice was not published.

Instead, the staff report indicated, “the meeting notice and agenda report materials were distributed [Wednesday, April 5] to the City Council and city staff, posted on the city’s website and made available at the city clerk’s office. The notices were also posted at the city’s designated posting location and was emailed through the city’s GovDelivery system to over 1,100 subscribers.”

There are nearly 50,000 residents and 16,000 homes in Cerritos

The April 10, 2023 staff report described in great detail the reasons and process to move the election from ’24 to ’25 – but failed to mention the obvious conflict of interest that Vo, Barrows and Solanki will financially [and politically] benefit when they vote to move the election to 2025.

It was not a certainty that one or two of them would have been reelected in 2024; Barrows was appointed and has served nearly twenty years, residents have complained saying they want someone new, and those same residents complain that Mayor Vo is seldom seen in Cerritos.

Under FPPC rules and regulations, “a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a financial impact on his or her personal finances or other financial interests. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests.”

If Vo, Barrows and Solanki vote to repeal 1036 on April 10, they will add another year of financial benefits paid to them by the city of Cerritos, while also cashing checks as members of outside municipal committees which amounts to thousands of dollars.

In one situation, Mayor Chuong Vo is taking “cash in lieu” of his health coverage with Cerritos, meaning he has health coverage with his employer, the Torrance Police, and coverage with Cerritos, but instead of declining to take the coverage from Cerritos and saving taxpayers thousands, Vo takes the cash, which is nearly $20,000 a year.


“To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties,” the FPPC clause stated, “the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.”

Cerritos Councilman Frank Yokoyama told LCCN, “The three Republican councilmembers including appointed Councilmember Barrows are selfishly extending their City Council terms almost one year. I voted no. I see no meaningful benefit to Cerritos residents. There is no legal reason for changing the City Council election date. Rather, this election date change lowers voter turnout and increases wasteful spending of taxpayers’ dollars. This is simply petty partisan self-serving Republican election manipulation.”

Several emails into the other elected officials and the city went unanswered.