Election Roundup: Mendoza, Ashton, Measure O all winners

DOWNEY – Democrat Tony Mendoza is heading back to Sacramento next month to represent the 32nd state Senate district after voters gave the former assemblyman a narrow victory over Republican challenger Mario Guerra on Tuesday. With all precincts reporting, Mendoza earned 52,442 votes or 51 percent of the vote while Guerra, a former Downey mayor and current councilman, garnered 48,740 votes or 48 percent of the vote. The race remained close until the final ballots were counted after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Guerra and Mendoza have been relatively quiet since Tuesday, a stark contrast from the remaining weeks of the campaign trail, which saw an influx of negative attack ads and mailers from both sides.

According to campaign financial statements from the period between Oct. 1 and Oct. 18, Mendoza, an Artesia resident, outspent Guerra more than two to one heading into the Nov. 4 election.

Both campaigns shelled out a sum of $366,000 on consultants, airfare, mailers, and fundraising events in the final weeks, but Mendoza’s expenditures exceeded $270,000. His largest cost was a $155,000 payment to Canoga-based Bullseye Marketing, which handled literature, mailers, postage and delivery for the campaign.

In comparison, Guerra’s campaign spent $94,499 during the same 18-day period.

Mendoza will begin his Senate term on Dec. 1, replacing embattled Sen. Ron Calderon in the newly-created 32nd state Senate district.

City Council District 2

When Sean Ashton announced two months ago that he would seek a seat on the Downey City Council, he promised to bring a fresh perspective and common sense to the council dais if elected.

Voters took him up on that promise.

Ashton, a 44-year-old fifth grade teacher, collected 1,200 votes in Tuesday’s election to earn a spot on the City Council representing District 2 (southwest Downey), according to unofficial results posted by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder’s office.

He replaces Mario Guerra, who is termed out of office next month after eight years as a council member, including two stints as mayor.

Ashton’s grassroots campaign included canvassing neighborhoods by foot and knocking on doors, and delivering a message centered on quality of life issues, especially streets. Ashton says the city has invested too heavily in median islands while ignoring dilapidated roads.

Although Ashton will technically represent the southwest quadrant of Downey, he says he “really wants to be a representative of all of the citizens of our great city.”

“I would like to thank my wife Tammy, my sister-in-law Sandy Kunisawa, and Christina Gonzalez for helping me throughout the campaign,” Ashton said. “Thanks also go to Pat and Diana Owens for inspiring and supporting me while taking this huge step, and Kim Solis for helping out on election night.  Thank you to John Paul Drayer for endorsing me early in my campaign.  I would also like to thank Mayor Pro Tem Luis  Marquez for providing me with his support and reaching out to me to make sure that I was prepared for running my own campaign.

“Most of all, I want to thank you, the residents of Downey.  Whether you supported me or another candidate, I want you to know that I will be responsive to all of your concerns.  The message I heard from most residents while walking door to door was ‘Downey has changed, it used to be better.’  I would like to be able to help with that, but I cannot do it by myself. It takes the whole community to enact change, but it starts one person at a time.  If you see a problem or have a concern, please do not hesitate to let me know.

“Again, I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the residents of our great city.”

Robert Kiefer, a small business owner and chair of the Downey Planning Commission, came in second place with 1,098 votes, despite having the endorsements of four sitting council members.

Physician Dr. Shahira A-Malek finished third with 748 ballots cast in her favor. It was her second time running for City Council.

Measure O

Measure O, the $248 million bond measure to repair Downey school campuses, was approved by voters, capturing 60 percent of the vote.

Homeowners will pay no more than $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value each year. For most, that totals $168 per year.

Despite the price tag, district officials ensure additional money from Measure O is necessary to upgrade aging classrooms and improve school safety at its 22 campuses. That list of updates includes new classrooms, technology, exterior playfields, improved safety, security, and campus accessibility, according to the 2014 DUSD Facilities Master Plan released in June.

Measure D, a $65 million bond, was approved by Downey residents in 2002. Over the last 12 years, the DUSD used funds from Measure D to renovate Downey and Warren high schools, which now feature new administrative buildings, science classrooms, auditoriums, and upgraded stadiums.

The last two projects funded by Measure D include the new engineering and Walker Hall buildings on the campus of Downey High School.

Measure O will mainly focus on upgrades at the district’s elementary and middle schools. Considering the $471 million calculated for necessary improvements to district facilities, $168 million of that proposed budget covers just repairs at Doty, Griffiths, Sussman, and Stauffer (formerly West) middle schools, officials said.

In fact, Stauffer needs the most upgrades in comparison to every other school in the district, according to the facilities master plan.

“The buildings are not getting ready to fall down,” DUSD board member Donald LaPlante said in an interview last month. “But our elementary and middle schools were built in the 1950s during the baby boom – they need to be updated.”

City Council - District 4

Mayor Fernando Vasquez, who was not challenged in his re-election bid, will serve four more years on the City Council.

“Thank you, Downey, for electing me [Tuesday] to represent you for four more years on the Downey City Council,” Vasquez said. “We accomplished many things during the last four years, and together we will do many more.”

 

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Published: Nov. 6, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 30