Six candidates will vie for two City of Commerce Council seats in the March 2015 Municipal Election, the city has confirmed.
Councilman Joe Aguilar is not seeking reelection, making Councilwoman Denise Robles the only incumbent on the ballot, however, longtime former council member Hugo Argumedo has thrown his hat into the ring.
Robles, who is seeking her second term, has often been at odds with her colleagues on spending priorities and other issues, but she told EGP she is eager to continue representing the city where she has lived her entire life.
“…I think there are many things that [still] need to be accomplished,” she said, pointing out that she has worked hard to “establish relationships with business and the community.”
The city needs to attract more businesses to Commerce and more work on improving the city’s appearance is needed, she said, detailing her priorities for a second term if reelected.
Aguilar’s exit from the race has opened up opportunities for other candidates, including some who have been active in the city in various ways for years.
Aguilar told EGP that at age 72, and after two terms on the council and three stints as mayor, he is ready to move on. He will continue his support of the city, but from another angle, he said.
“Being a councilmember takes a lot of time and I need more time for myself and my wife,” Aguilar told EGP. He said he needs to spend more time caring for his wife who has some medical issues.
However, he’s not leaving without first staking a preference in the race to succeed him, or perhaps replace Robles. He has publicly endorsed Sonia Rodriguez in the upcoming election.
Rodriguez is senior administrator of American and Ethnic Studies at USC and has served as a member of the city’s committee on Measure AA, charged with making recommendations on spending of revenue from the special tax approved by voters.
Aguilar said 51-year-old Rodriguez is “very responsible” and committed to the city.
According to Rodriguez, she supports improving the city’s use of technology. She thinks Commerce should install more surveillance cameras around the city as a tool to reduce crime, and invest more in the city’s infrastructure.
She told EGP’s she’s “blessed” to have earned Aguilar’s endorsement and to have Mayor Pro-Tem Lila Leon guiding her candidacy.
“I believe in clean air, in clean water and educational purposes,” she said, adding she plans to go door to door to hear from residents what they want from the city.
Also on the ballot is John Soria who says he is a lifelong resident of the city. He works as a law enforcement technician with the Sheriff ‘s Department.
Soria told EGP he is running because he thinks it’s time for a change. He said he came to that conclusion after watching the ongoing fighting between current members on the council.
“I possess the ability to engage and be responsive to both our community and our council members in order to move our city forward,” Soria told EGP, citing his “extensive experience” acting as a liaison between the public and law enforcement personnel.
If elected, Soria said he would advocate “to enhance public safety, restore programs and services, and mitigate environmental impacts so as to safeguard the quality of life for our families.”
Oralia Rebollo, 35, was also born and raised in Commerce, and says she has been thinking about running for the council since 1998 when she took part in the city’s Student Government Day.
Rebollo is a 17-year Commerce employee, which she says has allowed her to see first hand that the city needs new initiatives to “help all our youth become successful and productive adults.”
“Some of my priorities, once elected, are establishing family based programs, promoting community health, improving air quality and strengthening the City’s relationship with the business community,” she told EGP.
Former Councilman Hugo Argumedo may have the most name recognition in the race. His decision to run again, after being forced to resign back in December 2010 as part of a plea bargain agreement made after he pled guilty to obstructing justice, was not unexpected, according to some city insiders who wanted to remain anonymous.
Prosecutors said Argumedo signed a false affidavit as part of a civil lawsuit between the city and former City Attorney Francisco Leal.
As part of the plea deal, Argumedo was prohibited from holding public office for three years.
When he resigned, Argumedo admitted “regret” over his actions, EGP reported at the time.
Argumedo was first elected to the city council in 1996. He cites among his accomplishments the opening of the Crown Plaza Hotel, the purchase of the Citadel Outlet stores, creation of the Education Commission, and the restructuring of the Commerce Scholarship Program.
In his biography, Argumedo says he is a strong advocate of community-based policing and Neighborhood Watch programs.
He has also been a member of the Model City Democratic Club of Commerce, the Commerce Sister City Association and the Rosewood Park Elementary School PTA.
EGP could not reach John Diaz in time for this article.
The election will be held on March 3, 2015.
Fifty-four Commerce residents have been awarded scholarships grants ranging from $400 to $5,000 as part of the city’s Annual Scholarship Program. The recipients were recognized at an awards breakfast Saturday at the Commerce Hotel and Casino. This year’s recipients will be attending colleges across the country, according to the city.
Cincuenta y cuatro estudiantes residentes de Commerce recibieron becas que van de entre $400 a $5.000 como parte del Programa Anual de Becas de la ciudad. Los ganadores fueron reconocidos durante una ceremonia el sábado por la mañana en el Casino y Hotel Commerce. Este año los ganadores estarán asisitiendo a universidades por todo el país, de acuerdo a la ciudad.
Pictured (left to right): Commerce Hotel and Casino Operations Manager John Griffo, Mayor Pro Tem Lilia R. Leon, Councilmembers Denise Robles and Joe Aguilar and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard with six of this year’s Commerce Scholarship recipients.
A young man died today of injuries he suffered in a high-speed crash during an illegal street race in Commerce, and two other men involved in the accident were hospitalized with serious injuries, authorities said.
The three men were ejected from an Acura Integra when it struck a palm tree in the 5500 block of East Washington Boulevard around 10:40 p.m. Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“It was a street racing incident”, said sheriff’s Lt. Paul Hardy.
Isaac Garcia, 19, of Maywood died about 12:20 a.m. at a hospital, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter. It was not immediately known if he was the driver or a passenger in the Acura.
The two survivors are hospitalized with serious injuries.
Witnesses told a videographer at the scene they believe the vehicles were racing at 90 miles per hour when the accident occurred. The second vehicle in the race left the scene, they said.
Hardy said the damage to the crashed vehicle was extensive. “It’s pretty catastrophic”, Hardy said.
El Club de Mujeres de Rosewood Park celebrarón su desfile de modas anual número 16. Miembros de la comunidad, maestros y personal de la escuela asistieron el sábado al evento que tuvo lugar en el restaurante Stevens Steak House.
Los fondos recaudados son dirigidos para ayudar a los estudiantes de octavo grado de la Escuela Rosewood Park en Commerce, la cual cuenta con 1.050 alumnos y este año, 140 son estudiantes del octavo grado. “Va a ser una generosa donación para la ceremonia, $700 – $800”, Robert Cornejo, director de la escuela le dijo a EGP.
Hace doce años el club comenzó a ayudar a la Escuela Rosewood Park , que es la única escuela en el Distrito Escolar de Montebello que ofrece los grados Kinder al octavo.
El Club de Mujeres es la organización cívica de la comunidad más antigua de Commerce. Abrió sus puertas en 1949 como un grupo de socialización, pero poco a poco, cambió. “Todo comenzó con unas pocas mujeres tomando una taza de café y fue creciendo y tuvieron que trasladarse a la Escuela Rosewood Park para continuar sus reuniones”, la Presidenta del Club, Carmen Márquez le dijo a EGP. “Unos años más tarde se convirtió en una organización sin fines de lucro que promueve la cultura y las costumbres” para las mujeres de todas las edades , agregó.
Miembros del concilio de la ciudad de Commerce dijeron estar indignados al encontrar más de 4,000 firmas descalificadas que se entregaron para su destitución. “El problema se investigará y nos aseguraremos que la ciudad se encargue de quien trató de defraudar a los votantes de California sea responsable”, dijo el Concejal Ivan Altamirano, uno de los cuatro miembros del concilio quien estaba en la lista de destitución.
Read the Full Story in English: Commerce recall Fails: City Councilmember Calls Fraud