WHITTIER — Nine candidates have filed for the city’s first municipal election under the district plan April 12 with five seeking the two-year term of mayor in the only at-large category.
City Clerk Kathryn Marshall said the nine candidates filed petitions of candidacy by the Jan. 15 deadline, but five filed on that date and their petitions were not yet certified by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office in Norwalk as of noon Jan. 19, Marshall said.
County certification is to make sure all signatures on the candidate’s petition are valid Whittier voters.
In the race for mayor, the petitions of Mayor Pro Tem Joe Vinatieri and City Councilman Owen Newcomer have been certified. Pending certification are mayoral candidates Nick Donovan, business consultant Lisa Lopez and perennial candidate Arthur Rock.
Ricardo Ramirez, a technician employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Lee M. Williamson, a construction inspector, took out papers but did not file by the deadline, Marshall said.
Councilwoman Cathy Warner was the only candidate to file in District 3, where she lives. Her petitions have been certified.
Two candidates filed for the open council seat in District 1 on the final day and certification of their petitions was pending.
They are Josue Alvarado, a marketing professional; and Robert Canales, who lists his occupation as volunteer.
A third District 1 candidate, David Gonzalez, an assistant professor of public administration, filed Jan. 14 and has been certified, Marshall said.
No incumbent lives in District 1.
Mayor Fernando Dutra lives in District 4 and Councilman Robert Henderson lives in District 2. They are eligible to seek re-election in those districts in 2018.
Under the district voter plan, a candidate must live in the district he or she represents and can be elected only by voters in that district.
Residents approved the new voting system by approving a City Charter change in June 2014.
That change followed a lawsuit in which plaintiffs argued that the at-large system was unfair to minorities, pointing out that although the city had a majority of Latino residents, only one Latino had ever been elected to the City Council.
Rather than fight the lawsuit, the city put a ballot measure on the June 2014 ballot at which time voters approved the new district system.
Bellflower voters face a similar election issue next November.
In order to improve turnout at the April election, the City Council approved a plan offering residents a chance to vote on the Saturday prior to the election, April 9, in the Nixon Room of the Central Library, 7344 Washington Ave.
The cost of early voting is expected to cost the city $3,981.