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Petition Signatures Verified – A Recall Election Will Be Held PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 05:18

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder has certified recall petitions to remove Mayor Brenda Esqueda and Council members Mario Hernandez and Maribel De La Torre.

Julian Ruelas, an organizer of the recall effort, announced that he was informed by San Fernando City Clerk Elena Chavez that enough valid signatures had been gathered to hold a recall election to remove the trio, which has been at the center of scandal.

For several months, residents attempted to appeal to the council members asking them to step down to spare the city the expense of a recall election, but they refused, and a recall committee formed. The committee started a petition drive at the end of last year in an effort to oust the three council members.

According to the clerk's office, organizers easily surpassed the required 2,029 signatures required.

The City Council now must schedule a recall election, with the vote expected in October or November.

"It's crucial now for the survival of the city that these people be replaced,'' Ruelas said.

Recall organizers have a long list of misdeeds from violations of the Brown Act, conflict of interest votes and a string of poor decisions and mismanagement that recall organizers believe has caused several lawsuits against the city and adversely affected the city's financial standing.

For residents, the tipping point was when it became public that the three have been embroiled in sex scandals, with council man and former Mayor Hernandez publicly admitting an affair with council woman De la Torre from the council dais, and Esqueda being involved with San Fernando police Sgt. Alvaro Castellon.

Esqueda, has been criticized for using her council position to protect Castellon from being placed on administrative leave. Castellon was named in a lawsuit by a former cadet who accused him of telling her she could "disappear."

The three supported hiring and returning Police Chief Anthony Ruelas to his post, even though it was revealed that he was sexually involved with the cadet.

It's been noted by community members that the three council members have never apologized to the community for the storm of negative media coverage and fallout following their scandals.

Instead the trio accused the recall organizers efforts' of being led primarily by the police officers' union and said they were attempting to fight corruption in the police department. However, they never provided evidence of corruption.

Ruelas said although the recall election is months away, he and the other committee members are confident that residents will come out and vote. "They were anxious to sign the petition and they want them gone," he said.