The Press

Maywood recall effort against councilman, clerk fails

MAYWOOD — Petitions filed in March to recall City Councilman Eduardo De La Riva and City Clerk Gerardo Mayagoitia have failed to force a recall election, a county election official has said.

The effort to recall De La Riva and Mayagoitia is the latest in a string of political infighting at City Hall.

In 2016, all six of Maywood’s elected officials were served recall notices. However, none of the petitions have garnered enough support to force an election.

Both De La Riva and Mayagoitia have opposed Mayor Ramon Medina’s policies and decisions. The hiring of City Manager Ruben Martinez and City Attorney Michael Montgomery are two of several subjects the officials have disagreed on.

In a press release issued in March, De La Riva said Medina and former City Councilman Felipe Aguirre were the main proponents of the recall efforts. He accused the two of paying non-Maywood residents to lie to voters to gather signatures for them.

Mayagoitia said he plans to move on and work with all five City Council members.

He attended his first City Council meeting since February on May 24.

“All this bickering isn’t good for the community. I’m not here to pick sides,” Mayagoitia said.

Mayagoitia stayed away from City Hall due to a restraining order filed against him on behalf of Martinez. The restraining order was filed after Mayagoitia allegedly threatened to kick down Martinez’s door and assault him.

A Norwalk Superior Court judge extended the restraining order indefinitely in March without opposition from Mayagoitia. Mayagoitia said he was never served a court summons. He also insists that Maywood needs to provide him with legal representation as an elected official.

The restraining order prohibits Mayagoitia from entering the ground floor of City Hall and prohibits him from approaching some city employees. City Council meetings are held on the second floor of City Hall where the restraining order doesn’t apply.

Mayagoitia said he wouldn’t step foot in City Hall out of fear of being arrested on false pretenses. However, he said all five City Council members and Martinez welcomed him back. He also said they agreed to put past disagreements behind them.

Mayagoitia said he asked Medina and Martinez to set a new court date for him to address the restraining order. Mayagoitia is still calling for the dismissal of Montgomery, and said Montgomery lied on the report to the Norwalk Superior Court.

Mayagoitia points at Montgomery’s past employment record for reasons to dismiss him. Montgomery is a practicing attorney in good standing with the state Bar Association. However, he faced criticism while in the employment of the city of Vernon, and later Walnut. Mayagoitia said Montgomery’s work is unethical and he is unqualified to represent Maywood.

In an interview in March, Medina said the divisions and bickering in City Hall only bring negative attention to Maywood. Medina said he wants to be able to work with Mayagoitia.

Mayagoitia has sided with De La Riva in political battles in the past. However, the two don’t agree on everything.

De La Riva would not comment on Mayagoitia’s restraining order. He supported it’s passing during a closed session at City Hall. After his return to City Council meetings, Mayagoitia supported the council majority on their decision to host a street fair for the Memorial Day weekend.

The fair was divisive amongst citizens and small businesses, and De La Riva expressed concerns during a City Council meeting last June about how much money the city would spend on hosting it.