Cudahy municipal elections may be half a year away but a local activist has already announced his intention to run for office in this small city whose recent political scandals have grabbed national headlines.
“I want to bring back competency and honesty to City Hall and a just government for local residents,” says Christopher Garcia, a founding member of the activist resident group United4Cudahy. “The current system is old and antiquated and has the wrong mindset. I need and want to remind people that government should be there to work for them.”
Three council seats will be up for grabs on the March 5th ballot. One councilman’s 4-year term is coming to an end. And this summer two members of City Council left among accusations of accepting bribes and other corruption activities after being arrested by the FBI. The now former Mayor David Silva and former Councilman Osvaldo Conde could face decades in prison.
In fact, the most recent political activism among residents ignited after the corruption scandal broke out on June 22. First the Cudahy Association Unidos Salimos Adelante was formed and from this group came out United4Cudahy later; both groups have regularly attended City Council meetings as sorts of government watchdogs and advocating for reforms, transparency and services for residents.
Under the vigilance of those residents change has come to City Hall, according to Garcia.
City Council recently approved to change its meeting time from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. starting January. When the appointment to a vacant council seat was brought up, activists successfully pressed for a open and transparent nomination process and a candidate forum. Furthermore, United4Cudahy lobbied hard to have the Los Angeles County run Cudahy’s March elections in light of the fraud that has happened in recent elections—as acknowledged by indicted officials in court documents.
Garcia sees those as accomplishments of CASUA United4Cudahy. “We’ve passed more good reform in the past three months than the previous 15 years,” he says.
Now United4Cudahy has officially adopted a mission to work towards sending one of its leaders to City Hall. The organization’s recently-launched website says that it will “act as a campaign platform for Christopher Garcia in the Cudahy City Council race in March 2013.”
Garcia, 26, says he was born and raised in Cudahy, attended local schools as a child, went to nearby Bell High School in the City of Bell, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science on a full-paid scholarship from UCLA. At that university, he was a student activist against fee hikes and later got involved in labor campaigns for the rights of garment industry workers, according to his resume. He also worked as an intern for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the communications department.
He currently works as a independent contractor in patient administration for a doctor at the Back Institute of Beverly Hills.
MORE REFORM PROMISES
If elected, more changes are coming to Cudahy, says the candidate-to-be.
Garcia and his activist group are pushing for term limits and forensic audits to identify wasteful spending and possible misuse of public funds. On these and other issues, United4Cudahy have found an ally in Councilman Jack Guerrero, who was appointed to his position in September to fill a council vacancy.
Guerrero, whose term expires in a few months, declined to say if he will run for his post in next year’s municipal elections. He added that he will make an announcement soon after the beginning of the candidate filing period in November.
Councilman Josue Barrios, whose 4-year-term expires also in March, says he has not decided yet whether to run for reelection. He was elected to office in 2009.
The candidate filing period will start Nov. 13 and close Dec. 11, according to City Manager Hector Rodriguez. He confirmed the March election will be conducted by the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder/County Clerk.