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93-year-old defeated in Hawthorne council race

Frances Stiglich placed seventh out of nine candidates, but she's not unhappy. Vernon voters pass reform measures aimed at derailing efforts to dissolve the city.

November 10, 2011|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times

Voters in dozens of Southern California cities, school districts and other jurisdictions elected officials in a handful of heated local contests and weighed in on ballot measures to shore up campus and municipal finances.

In the South Bay city of Hawthorne on Tuesday, voters turned down a 93-year-old activist who was seeking a place on the City Council. Frances Stiglich placed seventh among nine candidates for two council seats, but she said she wasn't all that unhappy about it.

"I've got other things to do; I've got a lot of living to do," said Stiglich, whose energetic campaign drew attention well beyond her city. The self-described gadfly has been scrutinizing municipal records and speaking up at City Council meetings for four decades. In 1992, she exposed the then-city clerk, who had moved to Hawaii but was still drawing his taxpayers' salary.

Councilman Danny Juarez, who was elected mayor Tuesday, invited Stiglich to share the podium at his victory party Tuesday night and praised her vigor and dedication; neither he nor other elected officials had endorsed her, however.

The council seats were won by school board member Nilo Michelin and retired prosecutor Olivia Valentine.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, Hawaiian Gardens voters rejected two candidates backed by controversial local pastor and Councilman Barry Bruce, choosing incumbents Michael Gomez and Victor Farfan over Kathy Trimble and Mauricio C. Arroyo. In Vernon, a series of reform measures aimed at heading off state efforts to dissolve the scandal-ridden city were approved.

In the city of Los Angeles, police Officer Joe Buscaino and Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena) finished first and second, respectively, among 11 candidates to replace Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) on the City Council and will meet in a Jan. 17 runoff.

In Riverside County, Palm Springs voters overwhelmingly gave Mayor Steve Pougnet a second term. He won nearly 70% of the vote, which was split among seven candidates on the ballot.

Voters were all over the map when it came to deciding whether to help local governments facing tight budgets.

In the San Bernardino County city of Hesperia, for example, they turned a strong thumbs-down on an $85-a-year parcel tax that would have helped pay for fire and paramedic services. But in the city of Riverside they agreed to extend an expiring $19 annual tax for library services. In Hermosa Beach, a measure that would have tapped restaurant and bar owners for higher taxes failed, but a rival proposal to review and update the city's business tax structure passed.

School districts seeking parcel taxes to help with operating expenses also got mixed results. A $95-per-year parcel tax for the Las Virgenes Unified School District, which spans Los Angeles and Ventura counties, failed to muster the required two-thirds vote, while a proposal to extend an existing tax for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District prevailed with nearly 69% of the vote.

Results for most elections can be found on the websites of the appropriate counties. In Los Angeles County, however, some jurisdictions conducted their own elections, and results can be found on their websites or can be found by contacting the relevant city clerk's office.

Los Angeles County elections officials put the overall turnout for the jurisdictions they handled at 11.7%.

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