Bell Gardens residents recalled three City Council members Tuesday and Redondo Beach voters elected their first new city clerk in 17 years.
By a substantial margin, voters recalled Mayor Joaquin Penilla, Mayor Pro Tem David Torres and Councilman Salvador Rios, who have voted as a bloc during most of their tenure in Bell Gardens.
The recall election was prompted by a petition drive led by City Councilwoman Maria Chacon and an activist group called Bell Gardens Parents United for Justice. The group collected nearly 10,000 signatures to trigger the recall election.
Nine candidates sought the posts held by the three councilmen.
In the recall, Chacon and Parents United for Justice endorsed Pedro Aceituno, a real estate agent; Teresa Cabrera, an accountant, and Rogelio S. Rodriguez, a businessman. The three candidates were decisive winners in Tuesday's election.
In the recall vote, 67% supported Torres' removal, 68% voted to recall Penilla and 69% voted to recall Rios.
Aceituno received 66% of the vote to replace Torres. Cabrera also received 66% of the vote to replace Penilla. Rodriquez received 54% of the vote to replace Rios.
Voter turnout was about 20%. The results represent the vast majority of precincts reporting.
"People are just tired of the abuse of power," Chacon said. "They felt betrayed and fed up by the council majority."
In Redondo Beach, voters elected Sandy Forrest as the new city clerk. The incumbent was caught forging a vehicle registration sticker while in office and lost in a primary race last March.
Forrest, 53, received 55% of the vote and Eleanor Manzano, 39, received 45%, with all precincts reporting and only a small number of absentee ballots uncounted late Tuesday night.
The city clerk runoff was the only race on the Redondo Beach ballot and voter turnout was poor. Only 9.1% of registered voters cast ballots.
Forrest and Manzano were the top vote-getters in a six-way primary race, and both sought to replace incumbent John Oliver. The city clerk also serves as the city's chief financial officer, and Oliver was first elected to the post in 1982.
In the days leading up to the primary, many viewed the race as a referendum on Oliver and his troubles in court. Six months ago, Oliver pleaded no contest to forging a sticker for a vehicle license plate.
In Bell Gardens, Chacon, a vocal and controversial activist, helped orchestrate the 1991 revolution that swept out the Bell Gardens City Council's old guard, replacing it with the city's first Latino majority.
Chacon had supported Penilla, Torres and Rios when the three were elected in 1997. But she and the council majority have since become ardent political enemies.
She accused them of corruption and wasting the city's limited resources.
However, Penilla, Torres and Rios charged that Chacon is a bully who throws a fit when others don't agree with her.
Bell Gardens, a predominantly working-class Latino community of about 44,700 residents, is in southeast Los Angeles county.