Councilman Jose Huizar voting in the March 2011 elections / Photo by Flickr user Edward Headington (Creative Commons)
Boyle Heights residents are invited to meet the candidates for the Neighborhood Council Thursday before voting in the local election on Saturday.
Four board positions, 14 community seats and one factual basis position are up for grabs that day for the 32 hopefuls who have filed for candidacy. The seats are for two-year terms.
The election is open to all residents of Boyle Heights regardless of their citizenship status. BHNC President Edward Padilla reminds that it’s not associated with the general election this November.
“There has been some confusion because the elections are being held so close together,” Padilla said.
The council is a direct link to the Los Angeles City Council. Its purpose is to represent the interests of Boyle Heights businesses and individuals who live, work and do business in the community.
The neighborhood council also helps to advise the City Council on the community’s issues and current events, such as new development projects.
Padilla says because of the size of the Boyle Heights community, the council has designated four separate areas represented by four board members and 14 community representatives, along with the factual basis seat.
Aurelia Salgado and Miguel Juvera are running for the Area 1 board seat, while Sierra Jenkins and Jose Aguilar vie for the Area 2 seat. Luz-Montoya Ruiz and Ernesto Espinoza are running unopposed for Area 3 and Area 4 seats respectively, while Geza Gedeon and Martha Pelayo compete for the factual basis seat.
The factual basis seat is held by a non-Boyle Heights resident who has an interest in the neighborhood or has some other tie to the community.
The BHNC will hold a candidates’ forum on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Puente Learning Center, 501 S. Boyle Ave. All members of the community are welcome to come.
Community members are encouraged to vote this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin Library, 2200 E. First St., or at the Boyle Heights Senior Center, 2839 E. Third St.
The Neighborhood Council is treating those who vote to a free lunch at Ross Valencia Park, on the corner of First and Chicago. Simply bring your “I Voted” sticker on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and have lunch provided by Chavez Pollo and Burgers.
For more information about the election and a complete list of candidates, visit empowerla.org.
Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published at several publications throughout Southern California.