Guerra cruises to primary victory

DOWNEY − Downey councilman and former mayor Mario Guerra easily cruised to primary victory in the 32nd Senate district on Tuesday night, edging out former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, who will now faceoff with Guerra this November. With all precincts reporting, Guerra, the lone Republican candidate, earned 43.7 percent of the vote (21,249 votes) while Mendoza received 32 percent (15,561 votes).

Both campaigns claimed victory Tuesday night while celebrating with supporters just blocks away from each other in Downtown Downey.  Guerra, who’s attempted to take a non-partisan tone during the campaign, said his win symbolized voters’ desire to rid Sacramento of corruption and partisan fighting.

“The voters spoke loud and clear tonight,” Guerra said. “I think the people are tired of corruption and special interests. We need change -- and now there’s a clear contrast in this race.”

While Guerra didn’t mention Mendoza by name, his campaign later released a statement labeling Mendoza a “financial booster” of Senator Ron Calderon, who was indicted for taking more than $100,000 in bribes earlier this year.

“The voters are tired of it -- and I’m going to keep working hard to get my message out,” Guerra said in front of his crowd of supporters. “Let’s look at character. Let’s look at the corruption. There’s a reason I have the support of over 250 elected officials across party lines.”

Surrounded by an army of young volunteers and several elected officials, Mendoza told his campaign workers on Tuesday that his second place finish almost ensured a win for the team come November.

“If you look at the results, it looks like we’re losing, but Mario should be worried,” said Mendoza, drawing cheers from the audience. “If he’s at 44 percent, add up all the votes for democrats -- we’re at 56 percent.”

After three consecutive terms in the state Assembly, Mendoza, a native of Artesia, is hoping to return to Sacramento this fall. In an overwhelming democratic district and with more than $476,000 in his campaign coffers, a win in the 32nd Senate district may not be too difficult.

“There’ll be a higher democratic turnout in November than in June. That’s going to help us out a lot,” he said.

Sally Havice, a Cerritos College professor and former assemblywoman, earned 11.5 percent (5,588 votes) on Tuesday, trailed closely by Whittier City School District board trustee Irella Perez who received 10.6 percent of the vote (5,166 votes). Newcomer Carlos Arvizu rounded out the top five, pulling in just 986 votes.

The newly-drawn 32nd Senate district incorporates the communities of Artesia, Bellflower, Buena Park, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Hacienda Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Rose Hills, Santa Fe Springs and South Whittier.

In the 58th Assembly district, incumbent Cristina Garcia also advanced to November’s general election after running unopposed in the primary. Garcia was elected in 2012 to represent the cities of Artesia, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Montebello, Pico Rivera and portions of Norwalk.

Democrat Ian Calderon, who was elected two years ago to represent the 57th Assembly district, narrowly lost on Tuesday as Republican Rita Topalian pulled in 51 percent of the vote (12,412 votes).

Ian Calderon, nephew of embattled Senator Ron Calderon, garnered 48 percent (11,692 votes) in the two-person contest. Both candidates will faceoff again in November.

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 5, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 08