The LA County Registrar Recorder has certified the City of San Fernando election results and its now official: two incumbents — Mayor Sylvia Ballin and Vice Mayor Antonio Lopez — have been re-elected to office. Councilmember Jaime Soto did poorly in the race and lost his seat to Hector Pacheco.
Pacheco, an entertainment attorney with a law practice based in the city of Pasadena, lived outside of San Fernando for a time but returned to his hometown prior to running for office.
A graduate of UCLA’s prestigious school of law, Pacheco has focused on entertainment and business law and up until now, Pacheco hasn’t been politically active in the local community. But, with his longtime family ties to the city and by running on the same ticket with Ballin, it gave Pacheco a helpful boost to win the third available seat.
During the election, Pacheco, was elusive to media queries. Now that he’s been elected, we’ll see if he’ll be more accessible. He’s likely, however, to offer much relief to council spectators who were weary with Soto’s antics that increased legal expenditures and caused disruption and more work at City Hall.
Soto was at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit and violated the Brown Act. Curiously, Soto appeared to run such a lethargic campaign that he didn’t even distribute the campaign mailers that were printed for him. Since losing the race, he hasn’t showed up to complete the remaining council meetings left on his term.
The council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. to swear in the newly elected council members. Following the ceremony, they’re expected to nominate the next Mayor.
While Lopez is currently the Vice Mayor, there is no assurance that he’ll be the next Mayor. During the campaign, in an attempt to capture the council majority, he ran on a ticket with Yvonne Mejia, which was unsuccessful despite raising considerable dollars. Lopez may have shot himself in the foot when he took part in political mudslinging against Ballin.
In a small town like San Fernando, where backbiting and so-called “private conversations” and gossip are repeated and quickly travel back, it may take some time to mend political fences.
Lopez and Ballin, council veterans who’ve both served consecutive terms, have been on opposite sides of the table on large issues including the JC Penney building, marijuana dispensaries/micro businesses, affordable housing and what the future development should look like in the city. Lopez has been prone to give a green light to “Go” on these issues, while Ballin has been measured and reluctant in offering her support.
How the council will now come together or divide remains to be seen. For now, with Joel Fajardo as an ally and the election of Pacheco, Ballin has the council majority … as the city turns…