Incumbent Yolanda Rodriguez-Pena and challenger Jeri Bibles-Vogel were the top vote getters in the Tuesday November 3rd race for two seats on the Azusa Unified school board. Board Vice President Burke Hamilton did not run for re-election, leaving his seat open to one of the four challengers. Rodriguez-Pena garnered 871 votes while Bibles-Vogel received 741. With all precincts reporting, challengers Russell Rentschler, Thomas Sanchez and Ralph Rodriguez trailed behind with 431, 395 and 319, respectively.
Mayor Manuel Lozano won the Baldwin Park mayoral race in Tuesday’s election with 44.2 percent of the votes. He narrowly edged out Mayor Pro Tem Cruz Baca, who pulled 42.5 percent of the votes, and Jose “Joe” Armendariz, who ended with 13.4 percent, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office reported Wednesday November 4th. Council incumbents Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia also won reelection, with Pacheco taking 34.3 percent of the votes and Garcia pulling 31.3 percent. Challengers Daniel Damian and Roman Rodriguez received 21.9 percent of the votes and 12.5 percent, respectively.
Claremont voters overwhelmingly rejected Measure PS, a $50 million bond measure for a proposed new public safety facility, on Tuesday November 3rd. More than 75 percent of voters said no to the measure, compared to more than 24 percent who voted yes. In all, 4,590 Claremont voters went to the polls, which represented about 21 percent of the 21,938 registered voters in the city. The measure would have created a parcel tax to fund the building of a new police station on Monte Vista Avenue, north of the city yard. The fixed parcel tax was to be $286 per year per parcel for 40 years. Throughout the campaign, voters expressed concern over certain aspects of the measure, primarily the cost and how it was to be funded. In town hall meetings with city officials leading up to the election, residents expressed skepticism that $50 million was required to build a police station for Claremont.
Incumbent Carol Herrera and Ruth Low have won seats on Diamond Bar’s city council, according to final election results on Tuesday November 3rd. The results put Herrera and Low, a prosecutor, narrowly ahead of Robert Nishimura, a retired police officer, by about 1 percent. According to the results, Low received 1,793 votes; Herrera received 1,744 votes, and Nishimura received 1,722 votes.A fourth candidate, Robert Velker, received 587 votes. Low will take the seat vacated by Councilman Jack Tanaka, who decided not to run for re-election. Tanaka endorsed Nishimura as his replacement, but Low found more support among his colleagues. Diamond Bar City Council has been working with the City of Industry to find funding for a reconfiguration of traffic jam-causing 57/60 freeway interchange. Both Herrera and Low supported that project. The city also has been trying to deal with aging shopping centers losing their anchor tenants.
El Monte will see a new face on the city council dais. Treasurer Jerry Velasco was the top vote getter in the Tuesday November 3rd city council race as Bart Patel lost his seat on the dais, finishing in third place. Incumbent Vicky Martinez was also headed to victory. Art Barrios was in a distant fourth place. In the mayor’s race, Quintero beat out his colleague, Norma Macias, to retain his seat. The council dais has been dominated by minor bickering and major conflict for months. As evidence, Macias, who was not up for reelection herself, opted to run for the mayor’s seat held by her council colleague. Macias and Patel supported one another’s campaigns, while Quintero supported Velasco’s council challenge. The council conflict came to a head in July when Macias and Patel abruptly walked out of a council meeting, accusing Quintero of being a bully — a move that Quintero said showed their lack of professionalism. The mayor’s post holds only slightly more power than council seats, but Quintero has taken full advantage. Earlier this year, he angered his colleagues when he decided to exercise his authority to name all the planning commissioners, a function previously shared with the rest of the council. The winners face some tough decisions ahead, particularly regarding city finances. The improved economy and increased investment in El Monte have dramatically improved city finances compared to four years ago. But the recent stability is temporary, according to a financial sustainability plan commissioned by the city last year. The report anticipates annual budget deficits of $5 million to $9 million, or worse, owing to high pension costs, retired employee health benefits and the expiration of the city’s half cent sales tax, Measure GG, in 2019.
Newcomers Maura Murabito and Robin Merkley won two seats on the Glendora Unified school board, according to final election results for Tuesday November 3rd. The seats were vacated by two veteran incumbents Doris Blum and Doug Ferrell, who both declined to file for re-election. Blum has served on the board since 1983 and Ferrel was first elected in 1999. Murabito, 46, is the director of curriculum for Tri-Cities Regional Occupation Program. Having lived in Glendora for over 20 years, she said believes she will bring a lot to the table with her strong background in business and education. She said she plans to focus on upgrading and expanding technology probrams in schools in addition to ensuring students are prepared to enter both college and the workforce. Merkley, 59, moved to the city 30 years ago to raise a family, and during that time, she has been active in both the classroom and the community. The mother of five holds a master’s degree in education and has been a substitute teacher for the Glendora Unified School District for 12 years. She said she looks forward to learning about the issues, studying them and voting in a way that will best benefit the community. Murabito and Merkely will each serve four-year terms through 2019.
Aldi, a German discount grocer with nearly 1,400 U.S. stores, broke ground on one of its first stores in Southern California on Thursday November 5th. The grocery retailer, which announced an expansion to Southern California this summer, plans to construct an 18,557 square-foot store at the corner of Hacienda Boulevard and Francisquito Avenue. The new store, 1545 Hacienda Blvd., will sell fresh and packaged groceries, largely featuring Aldi brands. Aldi’s expansion in Southern California is expected to put more than 1,100 people to work in Southern California stores, as well as at the company’s regional headquarters and warehouse, which will be located in Moreno Valley.
High speed Internet will be wired into all homes in the master-planned area known as Ontario Ranch, formerly called the New Model Colony. It’s said to be so fast, homebuyers will be able to download movies in under six seconds. The so-called gigabit service first will be available in the 1,200-home Park Place neighborhood and may eventually reach all 47,000 homes projected to be built. City facilities and some businesses may get the service too after action by the City Council to expand the boundaries and connect to a giant server under construction in downtown L.A.
City Council members adopted a resolution approving an agreement for the sale of two parcels of city owned land for $1,895,000. The council, acting as the successor agency to the city’s former redevelopment agency, unanimously approved on Monday November 2nd the sale of the parcels at 700 and 704 E. Foothill Boulevard to Ku and Associates. The successor agency will receive the proceeds of the sale minus closing costs, according to a city staff report. The funds will be distributed to several taxing agencies including the city. The developer is proposing using the land for the construction of a franchise-operated Hilton suite hotel, which would generate taxes for the city, according to the city staff report. Pomona’s redevelopment agency purchased the land in 2007 from West Coast RV after it relocated to the Pomona Auto Center, according to the staff report. At the time the city had plans to use the land to develop a retail center. The plans never came to fruition as a result of the 2008 economic downturn and passage of state legislation in 2012 that resulted in the dismantling of redevelopment agencies, according to the staff report.
Residents on the city’s west side rejected a measure that would have increased taxes by up to $5 a month to improve parks, landscaping and street lighting, according results on November 3rd. Measure A, an $89 annual special tax, would increase funding and restore services for the West-Side Parks and Street Lighting District, which encompasses 27,000 parcels, 10 parks — including Red Hill and Heritage — and 6,000 city streetlights. According to the results in the special election, 77 percent, or 6,539 voters, opposed the measure. Opponents of Measure A criticized it, referring to it as a Mello-Roos district. Residents were also opposed to the measure because they wouldn’t get to vote on annual increases. The measure would have created a community facilities district, which is established under that law, but different from the Mello-Roos assessments that some developers impose on new homes. The biggest difference is that it would have to be approved by the voters. In February 2014, Rancho Cucamonga began implementing cost-cutting measures to deal with a $1 million structural deficit in the west-side districts. At that point, the city cut a little over $1 million a year in expenditures to balance the budgets. The measure was also an attempt to provide some equity over what residents pay. Residents in the new proposed district currently pay anywhere from $31 to $200 a year to help maintain streets and parks. Under Measure A, every property would pay $89 and seniors would pay $44.50.
SOUTH EL MONTE
South El Monte will see a new face on its City Council following the November 3rd election.
While incumbent Hector Delgado is returning to the dais as the top vote-getter with 492 votes, he won’t be joined by his colleague Willhans Ili, who came in third place with 432 votes. Volunteer Gloria Olmos garnered 460 votes to earn the second open seat, with all precincts reporting. Challengers Gilbert Zepeda and Manuel Acosta came in fourth and fifth place, with 249 and 166 votes, respectively. A recent external audit of city finances was at the center of the campaign. The audit raised concerns about the city’s processes for selecting contractors and paying them, particularly questioning more than $800,000 paid to a consultant without full council approval. The challengers said the audit reflected a total lack of accountability in City Hall. But the incumbents said they were addressing the issues and were grateful they were brought to light. The candidates also disagreed over whether a half cent sales tax approved by voters in 2010 should continue. Olmos, who has served on the Valle Lindo school board for 15 years, contended the additional revenue is no longer needed and the additional tax is driving business out of the city. Mayor Luis Aguinaga was also up for reelection but faced no challenger for his seat.
After a three-month search, the former chief of the Chino Valley Independent Fire District has been tapped to lead this city’s fire department. Paul Segalla, who has nearly 40 years of fire service, replaces fire chief Rick Mayhew who retired in July. Segalla will begin in late November — with an annual salary of $161,196 — and receive the same benefits as other executive-level managers. Like Mayhew, Segalla will oversee both the Upland and Montclair fire departments. The two departments unified in January 2014 as a cost savings for both cities. Deputy Fire Chief Dave Corbin had been serving as interim chief since Mayhew’s departure in July. Upland launched a regional search for Mayhew’s replacement after it was determined there were no candidates in either departments in Montclair or Upland. Segalla began his career in 1979 as an on-call firefighter in Harvey, Illinois, rising through the ranks as a firefighter, lieutenant, deputy chief and chief at various fire departments in Illinois. Segalla also has served as the fire chief for West Covina, Paramount Pictures and chief for the Chino Valley Independent Fire District for about a year until March 2014.
With the most senior member of the West Covina City Council knocked off the dais in the November 3rd election, the city will move forward with a relatively new administration as the city works to correct financial mistakes of previous officials and update a long untouched development plan.
Local activist Lloyd A. Johnson was the top vote-getter in the race for two council seats with 22.18 percent of the votes, according to unofficial totals from the Los Angeles County Registar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office. First-time candidate and businessman Tony Wu won the second seat in a narrow, but unofficial win Tuesday, earning 20.5 percent of the votes. Mayor Fred Sykes, who joined the council in 2011, landed in third place with 20.2 percent and only 27 fewer votes than Wu, according to the unofficial totals. Candidates Kimberly Caceres, Joe-Lara Gardner and Brian Gutierrez received 18 percent, 11.1 percent and 7.8 percent of the votes, respectively. Johnson and Wu will join three other council members currently serving their first term on the council.