The last time the state intervened in a local city election, it was 2002.
That year, the Senate Elections Committee authored a measure that took power
away from the city of South Gate to run its own elections, after the city
treasurer and three members of the city council helped turn South Gate into
a national punch line.
The small Los Angeles city made news in 2003 after City Treasurer Alberto
Robles and three members of the city council had voted themselves
2,000-percent pay raises, were accused of widespread fraud and corruption,
and were eventually recalled by South Gate voters. This after the
soon-to-be recalled mayor punched a council member at a meeting.
Now, critics say the same forces that were forced from South Gate are
looking to the state to help their efforts to take over the small city of
Vernon. Vernon city officials say they are in the middle of an attempted
coup. But supporters of the bill say the measure is necessary after Vernon
officials arbitrarily decided to cancel its city-council election and
declare the three incumbents as winners.
AB 1361, authored by Assemblyman Mervin Dymally, D-Compton, would hand
control over all Vernon municipal elections to the Los Angeles County
elections office, just as the 2002 measure did in South Gate.
Vernon is a small, mostly industrial city with only 91 residents–the least
of any incorporated city in California. Tucked in the shadow of downtown Los
Angeles, the city is not in Dymally’s district (it is actually within the
district of Assembly Speaker Fabian N