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Fajardo Comes Out PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 03 April 2014 06:03

Joel Fajardo

San Fernando City Councilmember Joel Fajardo has announced publicly for the first time that he is gay.

Fajardo made the announcement while speaking to high school students participating in Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra’s Junior Legislature program who were hosted by Mayor Sylvia Ballin in the council chambers on Saturday, March 29.

After Fajardo told the group he was the first elected openly gay city council member, the students gave him a shout of approval and broke out in applause. The response encouraged Fajardo to make more of these kinds of speeches.

He said while he didn’t plan the announcement, it occurred to him that he would have loved an opportunity like the Junior Legislature when he was in high school and “that there might be a gay kid in the audience who can benefit from what I have to say.”

Fajardo said that when people ask if he is gay, he tells them he is. But up to now, he hadn’t made a public announcement.

“It really changed my perception about how strong this generation is for the LGBT issues,” he said. “While I won’t be bringing this up when I’m talking about budget matters, I’ll be looking for the right venues to speak about it so that I can play a useful role in this civil rights movement."

Sylvia Ballin

The students and Mayor Ballin smiled.

“I was very proud of Joel,” she said.

Ballin, who is the city new mayor, is the only woman on the council, is proud to announce that she is 63-years-old and a proud senior citizen. With age and experience, she says she’s ready to enforce a “no time for nonsense” approach at City Hall.

Getting the Mayor's chair wasn't a slam dunk for Ballin even though she had just been the Mayor Pro Tem.

The Mayor’s chair is supposed to be a rotating position that gives all the council members an opportunity to be Mayor, with the Mayor Pro Tem next in line. There were some side attempts by former Mayor Antonio Lopez to sidestep Ballin. Lopez wanted his favorite council member, Robert Gonzales to be Mayor.

There was also some jostling for the Mayor Pro Tem’s position. Councilmember Jesse Avila felt it was implied by Ballin that he would get the position; and when the political landscape told him otherwise, knowing that Ballin preferred Joel Fajardo for the second in command position, he voted for Robert Gonzales. This upset Fajardo, who said he was told by Avila that he would vote for him if Fajardo was nominated. When Fajardo was nominated, Avila switched his support.

Ballin said it’s now a new day, and now that new city manager Brian Saeki has been hired there is an opportunity to really let everyone know that they'll be no tolerance for sitting back on laurels or for years of “old boy relationships.”

That message was sent previously when the trash collection company Crown Disposal didn’t get its contract renewed. Most recently, changes were made on the contract between the city and Black and White Towing that specified no city employee can simultaneously work for the company. Previously, the city’s police department had what was considered to be a “sweetheart deal” with the company. Those companies competing with Black and White did not qualify for the contract but if they had, Black and White may not have been renewed.

Ballin has much on her plate, including meeting with the Police Officers Association which will most assuredly have a long list of requests despite the city’s red ink. Likely to be on their list is placing someone permanently in the Police Chief's chair.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 06:16