Santa Paula Council: Selection of Vacant Seat Revisits 2000 Lawsuit and Sociopolitical Strife

By Sheryl Hamlin

The City Council of Santa Paula in a special meeting on December 10, 2018 elected Andy Sobel to fill the vacant seat of Martin Hernandez. This item took approximately three hours with 24 speakers: Nathan Ramos Rodriguez, Lorenzo Moraza, Audrey Vincent, Dave Rodriguez, Bob Orlando, Leslie Cornejo, Ike Ikerd, Ray Luna, Martha Brown, Christine Leschen, Lorenzo Moraza (repeat), Mary Anne Krause, Alex Flores, Bonnie Smith, John Procter, Dana Lomax, Gary Nasalroad, Liz and Bob Perez, Trina Naegle, Rick Castaniero, Jim Tovias, Laura Espinosa, Albert Gomez, and Rebecca Orlando.

History of Divisions in Santa Paula

Notable in the speakers were the following: Bob Orlando (geologist), Ray Luna (former council member) and Dave Rodriquez (LULAC – past State President , now State director).

Dave Rodriguez said that LULAC was studying the Voting Rights Act with respect to Santa Paula. He suggested that district elections may be needed. He supports Andy Sobel.

Ray Luna brought up divisions between and within the Latino Community pointing out that LULAC, Latino Town Hall (LTH) and CAUSE appear to support Andy Sobel, while other Latinos support Marquez. He said that he was aware about the return of the redistricting issue, which he opposed in 2000. All of which, he said, point out political differences in Santa Paula. Luna supports John Marquez.

Bob Orlando said that he doubted if the speakers who were suggesting the candidate in fourth position would be so keen if the fourth position had been Ginger Gherardi. He also said that LTH and SEIU appear to be organized. He said he was as concerned as he was during the 2000-2002 strife. Orlando supports John Marquez.

Most of the pro-Sobel speakers said that fourth place is the logical choice because 1) he ran a campaign, 2) got more votes that the winners in 2014 and 3) deep experience from Measure T, living in Mexico and higher education. The general theme was ‘Honor the Vote’.

The Marquez speakers highlighted John’s business experience and vast volunteerism in Santa Paula for decades.

History of Redistricting in Santa Paula

Here are links about that issue which was mentioned several times on Monday night: 1) letter to editor LA Times 2000, 2) letter to editor LA Times 2001, 3) Redistricting Voting results 2002, and 4)Summary of issue.

Council Discussion

Council Member Araiza had spent hours creating a spreadsheet basing the results on individual ballots (people) rather than the votes on the ballots. He said that it looks like many of the voters only voted for one or two people, thus meaning they had rejected the other candidates. He also said that he had received visits by angry constituents at his home which was totally inappropriate.

Council Member Crosswhite disagreed saying that she often only voted for a single candidate so not to give any other candidates an edge, even though she may have like multiple candidates. She also said that she was in the same place as she was on Wednesday.

Candidate Presentations

Each candidate was given five minutes. After this the council was still unable to differentiate a winner, so gave each a time for a “recap”.

In the recap, Sobel said he would be a point of view from a different segment of the city, particularly not one with a lifetime of preconceived views. He said that he had experience walking the halls of D.C. and Sacramento.

John Marquez explained how during his short tenure at the Chamber of Commerce he had visited personally more than 30 businesses and had joined the tourism board with goals of increasing visitors to Santa Paula.


After another break, the council took the first vote. It was a tie at 2-2 with Crosswhite and Juarez voting for Sobel and Garman and Araiza voting for Marquez.

More discussion yielded another vote. During the comments Mayor Garman said he would change his vote in the interest of the deadlock and moved to elect Andy Sobel. Council Member Crosswhite seconded. City Attorney restated the motion. Vice Mayor Araiza followed suit to yield a 4-0 unified vote for Sobel.

City Clerk Blanco administered the oath of office and Andy Sobel took the chair at the dais for the firth seat, a two year term vacated by Martin Hernandez.

City Clerk Blanco swears Andy Sobel

To read three previous reports on this position, click here.

To watch the entire meeting and download the materials, click here.


For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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