Patty Lopez

Raul Bocanegra has conceded.

 After what has been a laborious count of provisional and outstanding ballots, and the latest update from the L.A. County Registrar Recorder’s office widening Patty Lopez’ lead by 467 votes, he threw in the towel.

On his Facebook page he wrote a statement to his friends and supporters:

“While the vote tally is incredibly close, it is clear that my opponent will be victorious by the narrowest of margins. Although many residents and community leaders throughout the 39th Assembly District have urged me to undertake a recount, I do not want to put the state — and particularly the residents of the Northeast San Fernando Valley — through such a costly and time-consuming process… 

“It has truly been an honor to serve the people of the 39th Assembly District…

“I wish Ms. Lopez the best of luck and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the 39th Assembly District in the future.”

The last line of his statement is fueling speculation that in two years he could be back to challenge Lopez. But the next time around he isn’t likely to be walking to help other candidates. He will be paying attention to his opposition, no matter if they are novices or not.

Yes, Patty Lopez is a novice. The media is already anxious to interview her about a variety issues, but are not yet getting answers. She was asked about abortion, gay marriage and fracking from a local public radio station, and said she “doesn’t know much about the issues yet and has to educate herself.”

Beyond her concern for the community and a mantra to make education a top priority, she has a big learning curve of issues to consider. But while she educates herself, she has already taught others a really big lesson not to be pompous or asleep at the wheel.

Lopez has a long list of people who previously didn’t give her the time of day but now want to be her new best friends. Among them: Cindy Montanez, who is back to challenge her rival L.A. City Councilmember Nury Martinez, a strong supporter of Bocanegra. Now everyone wants to know how Patty defeated an experienced, well-funded incumbent. No doubt, Montanez, wouldn’t mind having some of Lopez’ foot soldiers to knock on doors.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Bocanegra’s upset has caused the politically entrenched to ask, “Who is Patty Lopez?” 

While Patty Lopez is known in the City of San Fernando, where she lives and has been an active community member most notably to help to unseat a salacious city council, she was never considered a viable political candidate — especially not for a state office.

She was encouraged to run for the local city council, but instead, took a huge leap over that stepping stone and went straight for the Assembly race. 

When her campaign posters popped up in various places throughout the Northeast San Fernando Valley, few paid attention and some snickered, questioning why she was running in the first place.

Bocanegra and his staff never considered her a threat. While Bocanegra focused on helping other Assembly candidates, Lopez with “no money and no endorsements,” kept focused. Her group of “comadres,” long time friends, walked the district, knocked on doors and asked residents if they were satisfied with Bocanegra and followed up by asking them to “give Patty a chance.” 

Election night, as the numbers came in, Lopez gathered with her friends and admitted that she, too, was surprised that she appeared to have won the seat.

With the final tally the vote will be certified, and then this wife and mother with no political experience other than her community activism — and who strongly identifies with the district’s immigrant Spanish-speaking residents — will be off to Sacramento.

With Spanish as her most comfortable language, and a concentration to “serve the community,” with the right support she may be able to give voice to an immigrant population that has long been a political kickball.

Meantime, back at the ranch, they aren’t waiting for the political pundits to analyze Lopez’ win. The local San Fernando City Council council race has taken note.

This race is expected to become contentious, with three incumbent council members hoping to retain their seats. They are expected to vigorously campaign against any opposition.

Mayor Sylvia Ballin, and council members Jesse Avila and Antonio Lopez have pulled their nomination papers to run for another term. So far, residents who have pulled papers include Pilar Enriquez, another candidate like Patty Lopez who is more comfortable speaking in Spanish, and Julie Cuellar, sister of recalled former Mayor Brenda Esqueda. Cuellar previously claimed, however, that she was most interested in being named to the city’s planning commission,

The filing deadline to run is Friday, Dec. 5, at  5 p.m. 

There is no doubt all the candidates, most assuredly, plan on walking throughout the city, going door-to-door and talking to residents to ask for their vote.

Bet Bocanegra now wishes he had.