LOS ANGELES (CBS) – City of Bell residents flocked to the polls today to elect five new City Council members. The municipality has been politically stagnant since eight current and former officials were charged with swindling public funds.
Three of the council seats were being sought by a total of 10 candidates after four of the previously indicted council members agreed not to seek re-election and one, Councilman Luis Artiga, resigned outright.
According to unofficial results, the top three vote-getters were Ali Saleh, a business owner; Nestor Enrique Valencia, a health care administrator; and Violeta Alvarez, a social services worker. Lorenzo Velez, the only incumbent who was not indicted, was seeking re-election, but lost.
After Artiga’s resignation, a separate election was held to fill the two years remaining in his term. Attorney/activist Ana Maria Quintana captured 44 percent of the vote. The closest challenger was educator Miguel Sanchez, whose name was on the ballot even though he died on Friday after being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.
The remaining indicted council member, Teresa Jacobo, still had two years remaining in her term, but she was overwhelmingly recalled today. Danny Harber, a retiree, easily claimed her seat.
The City Council has not met since the indictments were announced in September, and the winning candidates will take over a city facing a deficit estimated at about $4.5 million.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)