After Uncontested November Races, 27 Apply To Fill Chino Council Vacancy

In contrast to this year’s Chino Municipal Election when no one in the city’s newly created First and Fourth District council electoral wards came forth to challenge the two sitting council incumbents up for reelection, an unprecedented twenty-seven residents submitted their names as of the December 29 deadline to be considered for an electorally-created vacancy on the council.
There were a number of peculiarities about this year’s election in Chino. Historically, the city has held at large elections for its four council positions, which compose the council together with the mayor, also elected at large. But in response to a threat made by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund that it would take legal action if the city did not adopt an electoral system utilizing council districts designed to increase the electability of Hispanic candidates, the city council imposed on the city just such a ward system.
Significantly, the system that was drawn up created districts in which it so happened that each of the four council members lived separately in one of the newly drawn wards, such that they would not need to run against one another come election time. As it turned out, Mayor Dennis Yates did not seek reelection and councilwoman Eunice Ulloa, a resident of the just-created Second District, ran to replace him. She was opposed by Brandon Villalpando. Simultaneously, incumbents Glenn Duncan and Tom Haughey, who were up for reelection this year after having been reelected in 2012, vied in the race for their respective First and Fourth District council positions, which, again coincidentally, were deemed to be the first two districts to have their council representatives elected under the new ward
system. No one opposed Duncan or Haughey. Ulloa prevailed in the mayoral election, capturing 16,683 votes or 68.08 percent to Villalpando’s 7,823 votes of 31.92 percent. Ulloa’s ascendancy to mayor created a vacancy on the council, since she was last elected as a councilwoman in 2014, so two more years yet remain on her term.
Rather than hold a special election, the city council has resolved to appoint Ulloa’s replacement for the next two years. And though her place on the council is considered, under the ward system that will be fully in place after the 2018 election, to be the representative of the city’s Second District, the position she was elected to was technically an at-large post, so in creating a pool to replace her, those who are applying for the appointment are not limited by the Second District residency requirement. Thus, registered voters from throughout the city were eligible to make an application for consideration.
One of those was Villapando, whom Ulloa just defeated. Villalpando, the owner of Big W barber shop in Chino, is a District 3 resident. Others applying are Arthur Burgner, a self-employed financial trader and District 2 resident; former Assembly District 52 candidate Dorothy Pineda, who was a member of the city’s general plan update committee and is the owner of Gearmaster LLC and a District 2 resident; Toni Holle, a senior account technician for the City of Chino Hills and a District 2 resident; David Sakurai, manager at Disneyland Resort and a District 2 resident; former fire board member James Espinosa, who is a member of the Chino Community Services Commission and a District 2 resident; Chino Planning Commissioner Brandon Blanchard, who was formerly a school board member and is a District 2 resident; Tyler Ferrari, a civic engagement assistant for Chapman University and a District 2 resident; Deb Baker, assistant professor at Life Pacific College and a District 2 resident; Mark Hargrove, a corrections officer at California Institution for Men and a District 2 resident; Joseph Simpson, an editor for Food Law International and a District 2 resident; Christopher Ramos, a high school dean of students for the Pomona school district and a District 2 resident; Chino Valley Unified School District Board Member Sylvia Orozco, a District 2 resident; Michael Lovelace, an agent for Century 21 Home Realtors and a District 2 resident; former planning commissioner Gina Lee, a premium payables senior specialist for HUB International and a District 2 resident; Georgene Fix, a mortgage consultant for GEM Mortgage and resident of District 1; Joseph Louis Diaz Jr., who is retired and a resident of District 1; Loren Struiksma, who is a realtor and a resident of District 1; Paul Rodriguez, who is retired and a resident of District 1; Griffen Halko, who is director of operations with both Claremont Counseling and the Support Center/Chino Hills Counseling Center and a resident of District 3; Dr. Taylor Bladh, an optometrist and a resident of District 3; planning commissioner Steve Lewis, a resident of District 3; Marjorie Scane, owner of Scane Custom Cabinets Inc. and a resident of District 3; former Chaffey College board member Gary George, who is a retired Verizon telecommunications director and a resident of District 3; Arlene Guzman Todd, associate vice president for Dick Jones Communications and a resident of District 3; Mary Ann Ruiz, a retired aluminum product manager and resident of District 4; and Jody Moore, a senior pastor of Praise Tabernacle Bible Church and a resident of District 4.
There has been talk of appointing someone who resides in District 2 to fill the slot left vacant by Ulloa’s move to the mayor’s position. Such an appointment would match the spirit behind the creation of the new ward system but it would also give that appointee the advantage of incumbency in the 2018 election. This represents some minor degree of public relations risk to the council, as there is already suspicion the council gerrymandered the city’s voting districts in such a way that they benefit current incumbents. Conferring the District 2 replacement appointment on a political ally could heighten this suspicion. An individual living in district 1, 3 or 4 would not be eligible to run for the District 2 position in 2018.
The council has tentatively scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 10 to interview applicants. The council intends to fill the vacancy no later than the second council meeting in February.

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