Commerce City Council Ballot Set for March Election


Six candidates will vie for two City of Commerce Council seats in the March 2015 Municipal Election, the city has confirmed.

Councilman Joe Aguilar is not seeking reelection, making Councilwoman Denise Robles the only incumbent on the ballot, however, longtime former council member Hugo Argumedo has thrown his hat into the ring.

Robles, who is seeking her second term, has often been at odds with her colleagues on spending priorities and other issues, but she told EGP she is eager to continue representing the city where she has lived her entire life.

“…I think there are many things that [still]need to be accomplished,” she said, pointing out that she has worked hard to “establish relationships with business and the community.”

The city needs to attract more businesses to Commerce and more work on improving the city’s appearance is needed, she said, detailing her priorities for a second term if reelected.

Aguilar’s exit from the race has opened up opportunities for other candidates, including some who have been active in the city in various ways for years.

Aguilar  told EGP that at age 72, and after two terms on the council and three stints as mayor, he is ready to move on. He will continue his support of the city, but from another angle, he said.

“Being a councilmember takes a lot of time and I need more time for myself and my wife,” Aguilar told EGP. He said he needs to spend more time caring for his wife who has some medical issues.

However, he’s not leaving without first staking a preference in the race to succeed him, or perhaps replace Robles. He has publicly endorsed Sonia Rodriguez in the upcoming election.

Rodriguez is senior administrator of American and Ethnic Studies at USC and has served as a member of the city’s committee on Measure AA, charged with making recommendations on spending of revenue from the special tax approved by voters.

Aguilar said 51-year-old Rodriguez is  “very responsible” and committed to the city.

According to Rodriguez, she supports improving the city’s use of technology. She thinks Commerce should install more surveillance cameras around the city as a tool to reduce crime, and invest more in the city’s infrastructure.

She told EGP’s she’s “blessed” to have earned Aguilar’s endorsement and to have Mayor Pro-Tem Lila Leon guiding her candidacy.

“I believe in clean air, in clean water and educational purposes,” she said, adding she plans to go door to door to hear from residents what they want from the city.

Also on the ballot is John Soria who says he is a lifelong resident of the city. He works as a law enforcement technician with the Sheriff ‘s Department.

Soria told EGP he is running because he thinks it’s time for a change. He said he came to that conclusion after watching the ongoing fighting between current members on the council.

“I possess the ability to engage and be responsive to both our community and our council members in order to move our city forward,” Soria told EGP, citing his “extensive experience” acting as a liaison between the public and law enforcement personnel.

If elected, Soria said he would advocate “to enhance public safety, restore programs and services, and mitigate environmental impacts so as to safeguard the quality of life for our families.”

Oralia Rebollo, 35, was also born and raised in Commerce, and says she has been thinking about running for the council since 1998 when she took part in the city’s Student Government Day.

Rebollo is a 17-year Commerce employee, which she says has allowed her to see first hand that the city needs new initiatives to “help all our youth become successful and productive adults.”

“Some of my priorities, once elected, are establishing family based programs, promoting community health, improving air quality and strengthening the City’s relationship with the business community,” she told EGP.

Former Councilman Hugo Argumedo may have the most name recognition in the race. His decision to run again, after being forced to resign back in December 2010 as part of a plea bargain agreement made after he pled guilty to obstructing justice, was not unexpected, according to some city insiders who wanted to remain anonymous.

Prosecutors said Argumedo signed a false affidavit as part of a civil lawsuit between the city and former City Attorney Francisco Leal.

As part of the plea deal, Argumedo was prohibited from holding public office for three years.

When he resigned, Argumedo admitted “regret” over his actions, EGP reported at the time.

Argumedo was first elected to the city council in 1996. He cites among his accomplishments the opening of the Crown Plaza Hotel, the purchase of the Citadel Outlet stores, creation of the Education Commission, and the restructuring of the Commerce Scholarship Program.

In his biography, Argumedo says he is a strong advocate of community-based policing and Neighborhood Watch programs.

He has also been a member of the Model City Democratic Club of Commerce, the Commerce Sister City Association and the Rosewood Park Elementary School PTA.

EGP could not reach John Diaz in time for this article.

The election will be held on March 3, 2015.

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