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Campaign to Vote Yes on San Fernando Recall Election Receives Endorsements from Political Heavyweights PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:27

D. MARTINEZ/SFVS

Members of the Recall Committee want the city to take down these signs and have contacted the Fair Political Practices Commission. "These signs are misleading, Esqueda isn't running for Re-election, she is being Recalled," said resident Julian Ruelas who believes the Mayor is deliberately trying to confuse voters.

With less than two weeks to go before the city of San Fernando's recall election, the campaign to Vote Yes to Recall Mayor Brenda Esqueda, Councilmember Maribel De La Torre and former council member Mario Hernandez has picked up political endorsements from Congressman Howard Berman, state Senator Alex Padilla, L.A. City Councilmember Tony Cardenas, former state Assemblymember Steve Katz, Supervisor Michael Antonovich, former San Fernando mayor Nury Martinez, Los Angeles Community College Board President Steve Veres, and San Fernando council members Sylvia Ballin and Antonio Lopez.

"To say that what has happened in recent months on the council is unprofessional would be a big understatement," Cardenas said. "What has gone on would make 'The Kardashians' look functional.

The constituents of the city of San Fernando deserve better, people who will protect their interests."

Brochures to announce the endorsements have been mailed to San Fernando residents and signs to support candidates have sprung up on neighborhood lawns. However, the number of homes who are exhibiting their support for the recall and candidates appears modest. There are many blocks were there are no visible signs of the contentious election.

"People are just afraid," said one resident who asked that her name not be published, "They have seen this council act completely crazy and be all about payback."

San Fernando resident Kevin Beaulieu has been walking the neighborhood campaigning for the recall and confirms that many people are too afraid to even put Yes on Recall signs up on their lawns. "They may support the recall but don't want to put up a sign. They are afraid of retribution and they are scared, they don't want the council [Maribel De La Torre and those who are currently being recalled] coming to their house with code enforcement."

"The San Fernando election impacts me more than the Presidential election," Beaulieu pointed out.

"When you walk door to door and see how hard people work, big time politics don't really impact a small town. It's about property taxes, water rates and right now, the issue is really about our town going to hell in a hand basket," he said.

"It used to mean something positive to live in San Fernando, the way this town is being run right now is really an embarrassment right now. If Obama or Romney wins the election, it won't affect me the same way as compared to what will happen if the current council leadership stays in office.

"I was born in a San Fernando hospital and I would hate to move, but I would rather be part of Los Angeles than live in San Fernando with the agenda of the current leadership. We could lose our charter. I would not be able to live in this town."

The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol has found that many residents, still don't know about the recall election, and Bealieu and other members of the recall election committee are concerned that some voters may be confused by the election being held on the same day as the Presidential election.

"At least a third of voters who may not know about the recall election won't now what to do when they see 'recall' on the ballot," Beaulieu said, adding the volunteer members of the recall committee plan on knocking on doors up until election day, Nov. 6.

"The fact is I worry about, we should have not had this election on a general election day. This town has got to this place, where now some people now just don't care."

San Fernando's city government has been the center of controversy and scandal for years, aggravated in recent years by extramarital affairs, violations of the Brown Act, backroom deals and schemes concocted for political payback.

Esqueda has been at the center of the controversy with her extramarital affair with SFPD Police Sgt. Alvaro Castellon, who recently has been placed on administrative leave on a series of charges. Esqueda had previously come to his rescue and interferred with the internal investigation, keeping him in his position, but she was not successful recently. Acting Chief Robert Parks has placed Castellon on administrative leave, following a recent complaint filed by council candidate Jesse Avila.

"I am just sick of all of this," said Victoria, a resident who would only provide her first name. "It's unbelievable what these people have done. I couldn't believe it when I heard that De La Torre and Mario Hernandez actually got in a physical fight and there is now going to be a trial.

"And now, I've heard about the city laying off employees and I'm really worried about the police layoffs," she said. "I haven't seen the police cruising the streets as much as before and my aunt told me about a murder nearby in front of the Siete Mares restaurant. How can these people lay off police?" While she said she was concerned, Victoria said she did not register in time to vote in this election.

"I support the recall election, but don't want to put up a sign in front of my home," said another resident, as she was having dinner at Library Plaza with her children. "I live on Brand Boulevard, but we just don't want to worry about problems with people asking us why we support one candidate and not another. I don't want them to bother us."

The Recall committee, meanwhile, has written a letter to the FPCC – The Fair Political Practices Commission – asking them to take action against Esqueda, who has put up her old signs used previously from her last election.

"The signs are factually misleading ," said Julian Ruelas, an organizer for the Recall Election. "Esqueda is not a candidate, she is being recalled."

City Clerk Elena Chavez said that she spoke to Esqueda, who indicated that she didn't have the money for new signs so she used old ones. Chavez said the signs should have said Yes or No to the recall. Her signs read,"Re-elect Esqueda." "She isn't up for re-election, she's not even on the ballot. She is up for recall," said Ruelas.

"Her signs don't represent truth in campaigning. This isn't a reelection campaign, this is a recall election and she knows she is in violation and has not responded as of Oct. 23."

Ruelas said that all of the candidates are expected to follow the rules, but Esqueda is allowed to bend and even break the law.

"We, the Recall Committee, have been committed to making sure we are within the laws, rules and regulations of the California state code on campaigning. Ms. Esqueda has blatantly violated these codes.

This shows her disregard for truth and honesty when it comes to her office and her oath."

Esqueda did not return calls to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol by press time. The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol asked City Administrator Al Hernandez why the city has not taken action to remove the signs placed by Esqueda. "I have sent the complaint to the city attorney," he said.

Ruelas believes that Al Hernandez is deliberately dragging his feet. "Hernandez is moving slowly to help Esqueda. 'Why?' is the question," Ruelas asked.

Meanwhile, candidates have complained that Esqueda and Castellon have continued to be a nuisance to them by slowly driving back and forth in front of their homes, and have followed them in their car as they have attempted to campaign.

In an open letter, Linda Campanella Jauron wrote: "Every time you or your surrogates steal a sign, order pizzas under your opponent's name, repeatedly drive by our homes or follow us as we knock on doors to meet our neighbors, you prove that you are not qualified to serve this community.

"We gave certain Council members the opportunity to exit your posts gracefully, but you refused to understand that your actions on the Council dais are unethical and your mismanagement has led us to the brink of disaster. Instead, your juvenile behavior continues.

"What you have done during the course of this campaign constitutes illegal actions. These are actions you brought upon yourself.

"In a few more days, the voters of San Fernando will once and for all be able to 'fire' you from your position on City Council, and your lame attempts at intimidation will no longer be tolerated."

Castellon has been placed on administrative leave and had to surrender his gun and badge, but Al Hernandez has said that the terms of the administrative leave doesn't prevent him from entering the city limits or campaigning to support Esqueda.

"He is a private citizen, he cannot enter the police station without an escort."

The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol asked Al Hernandez if Castellon should be involved in the campaign. "Good judgment is another matter," he said, and then laughed.

But members of the recall committee take issue with Al Hernandez' position.

"Castellon is not a private citizen, he is a police officer on administrative leave. He can be told to stay in the confines of his home if officials choose to make that part of the terms [of his administrative leave], and we had understood that he was advised to stay out of town," said Campanella Jauron.

"Julian Ruelas came to city hall and informed me of these concerns, I advised him to make a police report," Al Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, raising more eyebrows, Al Hernandez has planned a trip to Europe which he says quite "coincidentally" will mean that he will not be in town on Nov. 6.

"I had given my wife a period of time and in fact had given her an earlier date but she picked this," he said.

However, while Al Hernandez is packing his bags, there is a real possibility that the vacation could be foiled as he could get a subpoena to appear in court for the trial of De La Torre, who faces battery charges against former councilman Mario Hernandez.

"I'm also on the witness list and could receive a subpoena from the D.A. I am on both of their lists." Al Hernandez chuckled but sounded serious when he said, "I'll be real unhappy if I don't get to take my trip."

"I hope when I return from my trip all of this will all have died down." Al Hernandez said.

He won't be the only official absent from watching the recall returns. Ballin also plans on taking a trip to Hawaii.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2012 07:37
 






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