Less than 10% of Ramona Gardens eligible voters participated in Wednesday’s elections for the Residents Advisory Council (RAC) board of directors and because of a high incidence of provisional ballots, no clear winner was determined for any of the contested races.
A total of nine candidates were being considered for five RAC board positions and one seat on the Housing Authority Resident Advisory Committee (HARAC). Elections were held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the housing complex’s gym and ballots could only be cast in person.
Representatives from the League of Women Voters (LWV) who administered the elections counted 91 regular ballots with 3 disqualified.
In the race for RAC president, results tallied gave a majority of 38 votes to Rosalío Ibarra and 25 to his contender, Gabriel Ãguila. The largest amount of votes were tallied for vice presidential candidate Olga Pérez, who received 41, while contender Marlene Arazo received 23.
Candidate Alberto López, who appeared in the ballot for three offices, received 9 votes for the post of secretary. In that race, the largest amount of votes were cast for Ana Bryan, who received 27, while contender Raquel Ibarra took 24.
López received 42 votes for treasurer and 44 for sergeant-at-arms. It will be up to him to decide which office he takes while the new board will appoint someone to the remaining seat.
The only decided race was that for the HARAC representative, for which candidate Liliana Martínez received all votes tallied, a total of 53. It was not known Wednesday if any provisional ballots contained votes for her contender, Martha González.
Nearly a dozen Ramona Gardens residents observed the vote count after the polls closed. Unofficial results were announced by LWV representative Helen Medrano, who stressed that results for every race except HARAC representative could still be determined by votes in the provisional ballots. Official election results will be known by Monday.
Boyle Heights residents 18 years and older who are listed on their apartment lease ”“a total of 1,057, according to HACLA”“ were eligible to vote. Medrano said that the fact that an absentee ballot is not possible under Housing Authority rules may have affected the turnout, but she said that was an issue that the new board could take up directly with HACLA.
One Ramona Gardens resident who spoke with Boyle Heights Beat after casting his ballot on Wednesday said he only found out about the elections that very same day.
“I think there needs to be more publicity, so that more people become interested in voting”, said Nathanael Ramos, who has lived at Ramona Gardens for three years. “Many people don’t want to get involved because they say it’s always the same people, but if you think that way, things will never change.”
Though all housing development residents receive elections information and ballots in their mailboxes, Ramos said it was a flyer posted near his front door on Wednesday morning that alerted him to the day’s polling. He said he felt a responsibility to vote to help bring improvements to living conditions at the development. One thing he would like to see is “that we are told how federal funds are spent in the apartments, that’s something that is never mentioned at [RAC] meetings.”
Martha Cervantes, who has lived at Ramona Gardens for 24 years, also said she voted because she would also like to see an improvement in the quality of life. Cervantes said she was concerned about the dearth of food stores in the area and about the lack of reliable transportation to Ramona Gardens.
“We need a leader who can represent us anywhere he or she goes,” Cervantes said. “Someone who can bring more funds, more resources, to make Ramona Gardens better than it is.”
*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said there were 93 regular ballots and 21 provisional ballots cast. The final total was 91 ballots cast, with 3 disqualified.