Bell, Calif.–The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today formally certified the results of the March 8 election that gave scandal-plagued Bell five new city council members.
Those new members–Violeta Alvarez, Danny Harber, Ana Maria Quintana, Ali Saleh and Nestor Valencia–are now cleared to be sworn into office in the next 48 hours.
Bell law requires the council to declare the election official after its results are certified by the city clerk.
However, a judge’s Feb. 17 order requiring Mayor Oscar Hernandez and council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal to stay at least 100 yards away from City Hall made it impossible for the council to have a quorum meet to declare the results.
To remedy that problem, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, authored AB93, giving the Board of Supervisors the authority to declare the results official in the absence of a functioning city council.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown March 21 and took effect immediately.
The board certified the raw election data March 22. That data was then sent to Bell’s city clerk, who made her own certification and returned the results to the board for its final approval today.
Eight Bell city officials–including four sitting council members– were charged with a variety of corruption charges for allegedly bilking public funds through hefty salaries and loans of taxpayer dollars.
Bell voters recalled Jacobo and elected replacements for her, Hernandez and Mirabal, who did not seek re-election, and former Councilman Luis Artiga, who resigned.
The fifth council member, Lorenzo Velez, the only incumbent who was not indicted, was defeated in his re-election bid.
Once installed, the election winners will confront a number of significant challenges, including a $3.5 million to $4.5 million budget deficit, the city’s default on an outstanding $35 million bond issue, and whether to maintain a police force or let the sheriff’s department take over
local law enforcement.