La Puente’s Solis wins council seat by 6 votes

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

LA PUENTE >> It’s official.

John Solis will be installed as the newest member of the City Council on Tuesday.

In the seesaw battle for the third city council seat, Solis edged out incumbent Councilman Charles Klinakis by six votes.

Solis, who was trailing by 25 votes after the first count on election night, April 12, pulled ahead after more than 300 provisional ballots were counted the following week. A turn-around put him up by eight votes. By Friday, after nine more provisional ballots were tallied, his lead slipped. But Solis held on.

The question of a recount — rumored to be possible, even probable over the weekend — was answered on Monday. Klinakis decided not to challenge the results.

“After reviewing all the options, I feel it is best for the city and myself to put closure to this election and move forward,” Klinakis said on Monday.

The one-term councilman said he had been thinking about asking for a recount but decided the stability of the city comes first. “Sometimes you just have to move on,” he said.

Solis, 51, who is not new to the City Council, having served from 2000-2012, said on Monday he received a call from Klinakis saying he would not challenge the results.

“I want to thank everybody for wanting me to come back and for believing in me,” Solis said on Monday, crediting his late surge to his walking the district until 4 a.m. the day and night before Election Day.

At Tuesday’s 7 p.m. City Council meeting, Solis will take the oath of office after a four-year absence. Easily re-elected were: Mayor Dan Holloway, 1,194 votes and Councilwoman Violeta Lewis, 1,146 votes. The City Council will select a new mayor and vice mayor as well.

Klinakis said he was disappointed by the number of negative mailers attacking him. But he said he accomplished what he set out to do during the past four years.

He was proud of the way the City Council stabilized a city that was marked by a revolving door of administrators. He said his management skills helped install a new city manager, David Carmany, who has been on the job for 2 1/2 years.

He said he would devote more time to his construction business, and also take more vacations. In the four years he has served on the City Council, he has not been back to his cabin in Alaska. “My wife said my first chore will be to shoot up to Alaska and catch her some halibut,” he said Monday.

“Four years later, I leave the city 1,000 percent better off then when I got here,” Klinakis said. “We have staff, procedures in place to help the city move forward.”

Walnut council race includes three PACs and lots of cash

Walnut council race includes three PACs and lots of cash

 WALNUT >> The upcoming election of three city council members is being influenced by three political action committees formed exclusively to support or oppose candidates running in Tuesday’s election, according to the latest campaign filings.

The use of independent expenditure committees are viewed as a spillover from the ongoing presidential campaigns where such committees are spending money on political mailers and advertising without coordinating activities with the candidates. The organizers of these PACs are empowered by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that honored political contributions as free speech and allowed unlimited election spending.

According to a document filed March 31 with the Walnut City Clerk’s Office, the Truth & Dignity Municipal Leadership PAC spent $1,313.12 on a political mailer in support of challenger Betty Tang. This is the first time this PAC has existed in Walnut.

Most likely, the committee is a reaction to two other committees formed this year to oppose Tang: Citizens to Protect Walnut Committee and Citizens for Family Values to Oppose Betty Tang for Walnut City Council 2016.

The “family values” PAC added $4,449 in contributions from Feb. 28 through March 26, according to the recent filing with the City Clerk. The PAC has raised a total of $5,048 this year, with expenditures mostly on political mailers: including $2,236.81 for an English mail piece and a mail piece in Chinese. The mailers were produced by the Chinese American Advertising & Direct Mail LLC in Monterey Park and funneled through the U.S. Post Office on Lemon Avenue in Walnut, the document showed

Dana Hopkins, treasurer, who is listed as a certified public accountant from Riverside on the campaign document, did not return a phone call on Tuesday. Hopkins also is listed as the treasurer for Citizens to Protect Walnut, which has spent $820 in 2015, according to a document filed on Feb. 1, 2016.

Contributors and their donation amounts to the “family values” PAC include: Patricia Anis of Diamond Bar, an administrative assistant for the California 48th District Agricultural Association ($750); Martin Arano of San Dimas, a handyman ($750); Gang Chen of Chino Hills, self-employed as Eden Electric ($750); Yan Lin of El Monte, a pharmacist with Walgreens ($750); Jaime R. Rodriguez of La Puente, a human resources manager with Hitchcock Automotive Resources ($749); Walnut City Council member Mary Su (from her City Council 2014 fund, $700).

Since Walnut limits campaign contributions to $1,000 per individual, many will use PACs to get around that limit since PACs are an independent expenditure, said politics watcher and open government advocate Gil Aguirre.

“How can you have influence and bypass many of the political campaign limits out there? This seems to be the technique chosen,” he said.

The candidates and their most recent financial filings (through March 31) are as follows:

• Eric Ching, 49, incumbent, raised $34,972.60 (including a loan of $7,171.60) and spent $10,231.94.

• Bella Cristobal, 66, challenger, raised $28,169.60 (including a $5,000 loan from herself) and spent $22,917.55. Cristobal returned a $1,000 donation from David Hall, Mount San Antonio College trustee.

• Dino Pollalis, 53, challenger, raised $12,100 all in loans from himself; spent $10,918.56.

• Andrew Rodriguez, 23, challenger, raised $9,822 (including a $6,080 loan from himself) and spent $9,160. Rodriguez returned a $500 donation from Jay Chen, Mt. SAC trustee.

• Betty Tang, 49, challenger, started with $61,680.32 of cash on hand; raised $11,986 and spent $41,798.

• Nancy Tragarz, 53, incumbent, raised $7,128.77 and spent $4,370.70.