DOWNEY - After a contentious primary campaign in the 50th Assembly District, democratic legislative aide Ricardo Lara and republican Gladys Miller came out victorious, attaining double digit leads over their respective opponents.Despite low voter turnout, Lara, who serves as communications director for Los Angeles Assemblyman Kevin De Le??n, received 43.6 percent of the vote, nearly 13 points ahead of South Gate City Clerk Carmen Avalos who received 30.6 percent of the vote. Though endorsed by Hector De La Torre, who currently serves as assemblyman in the 50th District, Downey Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez was unable to capture the coveted seat, earning just 14.5 percent of the vote. Former Bellflower councilman Art Olivier received 11.3 percent of the vote. As the top fundraiser, Lara outspent his opponents, raising more than $400,000 during the campaign. However, Lara also raised much controversy after being accused of straddling communities to run for the empty seat. The 35-year-old Bell Gardens resident was also sued in March over his ballot designation, which described him as a "consumer affairs commissioner." Lara later changed the designation to read "communications director." If elected, Lara will become the first openly gay assembly member from the district, which includes the communities of Bell, South Gate, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Bellflower, Lynwood, Florence Graham, Walnut Park and a portion of Downey. In the republican primary, returning candidate Gladys Miller easily defeated PJ Mellana of Bellflower who received 38.6 percent of the vote. Miller, a resident of South Gate, earned 61.4 percent of the vote. "Now I can move forward and get out in the community with my message," said Miller, 61, following her victory. "The issues we are facing are not partisan issues, they affect everyone. By myself, I can't do anything, but with the support of the people - a lot can be done." In November, Lara and Miller will face off for the assembly seat, which will soon be vacated by Assemblyman De La Torre. Interestingly enough, De La Torre lost his campaign to become the democratic nominee for Insurance Commissioner to Sacramento Assemblyman Dave Jones who received nearly twice the amount of votes.
********** Published: June 11, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 8