Kotze-Ramos, Garcia advance to vie for local Assembly seat

DOWNEY - After a costly and often combative primary race in the 58th Assembly District, businesswoman Patricia Kotze-Ramos and activist Cristina Garcia edged out the competition on Tuesday, advancing to the general election in November. With all precincts reporting, Kotze-Ramos, the lone Republican candidate, earned 27.9 percent of the vote (7,272 votes) while Garcia garnered 26.5 percent (6,906 votes).

As the top-two vote getters, both will face off during the November election.

"By choosing Cristina and myself, the message from the voters is that the same ole, same ole is not satisfactory anymore," said Kotze-Ramos, who owns and operates a private investigation firm in Downey. "I'm a little surprised about being number one, but the goals have not changed. My focus is on education for the children, job growth and public safety."

As a married mother of two daughters, Kotze-Ramos has long been an active community leader and volunteer serving as a regional director for Soroptimist International, chair of the Downey Public Works Committee, board member of the Californian's Dedicated to Education Foundation, and president-elect of the Downey Chamber of Commerce.

"I've been in business for 10 years and in the same industry for 30. I've been on the ground and seen the problems and how people live," said Kotze-Ramos. "We need the right person, someone who knows how to fix the problem. You don't have to be a Republican to vote for the right person."

Democrat Tom Calderon, who was hoping to reclaim his former Assembly seat, trailed close behind Kotze-Ramos and Garcia with 23 percent (6,011 votes). Downey Councilman Luis Marquez, however, finished with just 12.3 percent of the vote (3,221) followed by Bell Gardens Councilman Daniel Crespo (1,702) and businessman Sultan "Sam" Ahmad of Artesia (983).

Neither Calderon nor Marquez could be reached for comment following the primary contest, but Tuesday's defeat likely means Marquez will seek reelection to the Downey City Council this November.

Garcia, a college professor and political activist from Bell Gardens, is hopeful the 58th Assembly District, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, will give her an advantage this fall.

Instrumental in bringing reform to the embattled city of Bell, she organized a community group, called BASTA, Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which called for the resignation of corrupt city administrators and continues to fight for access to decision-making for residents.

"I'm very humbled to know so many community members were by my side," said Garcia, 34. "Someone outspent me seven to one...No one expected someone like me to get this done, but I don't do anything to lose. I look forward to working with everyone in my district to move California forward."

This November marks the first time in 14 years that a member of the Calderon family will not represent the 58th Assembly District, which first elected Tom Calderon in 1998 followed by his brother Ron and later, his brother Charles.

The newly-drawn district includes the cities of Artesia, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Montebello, Pico Rivera and portions of Norwalk.

In one of the tightest campaigns during Tuesday's primary battles, Democrat Ian Calderon, son of Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, narrowly defeated rival Democrat Rudy Bermudez in the 57th Assembly District.

With all precincts reporting, 26-year-old Ian Calderon earned 28.7 percent of the vote (9,108 votes) followed by former Assemblyman Bermudez who took in 28 percent, just 231 votes less than his opponent.

Calderon is now heading into a November runoff election against Republican Noel Jaimes, a La Mirada businessman who pulled in 43.4 percent of the vote (13,770 votes).

The 57th Assembly District includes the communities of Norwalk, La Mirada, Whittier, Hacienda Heights, Santa Fe Springs, La Puente, South El Monte, South Whittier, La Habra Heights, Avocado Heights, East La Mirada, City of Industry, Rose Hills, South San Jose Hills, West Whittier, and Los Nietos.

********** Published: June 07, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 08