NORWALK – After a combined 48 years in office, both Mayor Mike Mendez and Vice Mayor Cheri Kelley opted against running for re-election last Friday, ensuring the city will welcome three new leaders into the dais in March.
While Mendez had previously announced that he would not seek reelection, Kelley's decision not to run for another four-year term was a surprise.
Kelley was first elected to the Norwalk City Council in 1997 and was re-elected four times subsequently. In 2013, she perhaps faced her toughest election, winning a tumultuous race against Enrique Aranda by just 34 votes.
Nonetheless, seven candidates have already filed their nomination papers to replace both Kelley and Mendez.
According to City Clerk Theresa Devoy on Wednesday, Harvey Cardenas, Jamie Armenta, Esperanza Free, Tony Ayala, Marcel Mercado, Candy Martinez, and Norwalk Planning Commissioner Jennifer Perez have all submitted their paperwork to run for the four-year terms.
On March 7, 2017, Norwalk residents will vote to fill two, four-year terms, but also a single, two-year term to replace former Councilman Marcel Rodarte, who resigned in June.
Devoy said that three candidates will faceoff for that seat, including Alberto Uribe, Ken Menchaca, and current Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School board member Margarita L. Rios.
While they may choose not to run, six other residents pulled nomination papers for the four-year term seats, including incumbent Norwalk planning commissioners Scott Collins, Jack Aduna, Debbie Martinez, Leroy Baca, Enrique Aranda, and Dr. Sandra Salazar, who was just re-elected to serve another term on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees.
The window to file nomination papers officially opened on Monday, Nov. 14. and closed on Friday, Dec. 9 for the two-year term. Since no incumbent filed before Dec. 9 for the four-year term, the deadline ends on Dec. 14.