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Two Council Candidates Deny Links to Officials Ousted in January Recall

March 01, 2003|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

Two City Council candidates say they want to save South Gate. No more allegations of corruption, they promise. No more nepotism. No more Albert Robles, the former treasurer who was ousted in a January recall election.

But Patricia Alfaro and Yadira Bonilla-Clayton have ties to Robles and his former council allies. Bonilla-Clayton, a city employee, was promoted by the previous administration and was appointed to a city commission by former Vice Mayor Raul Moriel. Alfaro was appointed to a citizen's advisory committee by former Mayor Xochilt Ruvalcaba.

Both stumped for the now-ousted leaders in campaign fliers in January, but now say they have no links.

The reversal comes as residents in the politically turbulent city prepare to go to the polls for the second time in three months. In the Jan. 28 recall election, Robles, Ruvalcaba, Moriel and Councilwoman Maria Benavides were removed from office by more than 80% of the vote. The leaders left the city nearly bankrupt and awash in ongoing corruption probes.

In Tuesday's general election, voters will fill three seats on the five-member City Council.

It has become a battle pitting the three incumbent candidates who want to preserve the recall victory, against 11 others. The incumbents are Vice Mayor Henry Gonzalez and council members Greg Martinez and Maria Davila. Martinez and Davila were elected in the recall election.

Robles is also on the ballot along with Ruvalcaba and Moriel, but they do not appear to be campaigning.

The Alfaro and Bonilla-Clayton campaigns, along with that of running mate Adelia Velasquez, have flooded the city with mailers denying ties to Robles and his allies.

But in the days leading up to the recall election, Bonilla-Clayton and Alfaro appeared in campaign fliers opposing the recall.

On a Moriel mailer, a photo of Alfaro was accompanied by a quote saying Moriel should not be "unjustly removed from office" and she urged residents to vote against the recall. Bonilla-Clayton's image appeared on another campaign flier above a "Stop the Recall" logo.

The slate members refused to be interviewed, but they provided written statements in response to questions by The Times.

Alfaro denies campaigning against the recall, saying she never gave permission for her name or image to be used. She says Ruvalcaba never appointed her to a commission.

"Anyone that knows me can readily tell you of the wide divide that separates me, politically and personally, from ... Xochilt Ruvalcaba," Alfaro said in the statement.

Bonilla-Clayton doesn't deny that she opposed the recall. She says she did so because she supported many of the previous council's programs. She insists that, if elected, she would follow her own course.

"The community should know with certainty that I have never been, nor will ever be, controlled by" Robles or his allies, she said.

Attempts by slate opponents to learn who is funding their campaign have been unsuccessful. Alfaro and Bonilla-Clayton have not filed the required campaign finance disclosures, according to city and county officials. The candidates say they are financially supported by friends and family.

"I think the voters of South Gate realize what's going on, and are very happy that we got elected in the recall," Councilman Greg Martinez said.

Also running are Moises Romero, Mario Bracamontes, Robyn Weeden, Barbara C. Soto and Roy Abadi.

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