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Pressure builds for San Fernando leaders to resign

San Fernando city seal

Alice Walton/KPCC

Residents, elected officials and the San Fernando Police Officers Association want the mayor and a city councilwoman to step down from office before the city spends $60,000 on a recall election.

Two members of the San Fernando City Council called for an investigation into their colleagues Tuesday, saying the personal lives of the elected officials are getting in the way of their civic duties.

Mayor Pro Tem Antonio Lopez and Councilwoman Sylvia Ballin also urged Mayor Brenda Esqueda and Councilwoman Maribel de la Torre to step down rather than go through a pending recall election. Councilman Mario Hernandez, who was romantically involved with de la Torre, stepped down just hours before Tuesday’s council meeting.

“It breaks my heart that we’re in this situation,” Ballin told reporters outside San Fernando City Hall.

Last fall, the married Hernandez announced he was having an affair with de la Torre. The relationship took a turn at the end of June when the two got into a physical fight. Hernandez claims de la Torre choked him and threatened to kill him however, de la Torre told police she was the one who was attacked. Each filed a restraining order against the other. 

Meanwhile, Esqueda has been accused of having an affair with a local police sergeant. She did not respond to that allegation when confronted by reporters.

“Just because you’re an elected official, it doesn’t mean you’re not human. We are human. We have feelings and unfortunately people don’t always treat us that way,” Esqueda said.

During the meeting’s public comment period, San Fernando residents politely but forcefully asked Esqueda and de la Torre to step down from their elected positions. Residents talked about the pride they have for a city whose reputations is being tarnished by the personal failings of its politicians. 

The San Fernando Police Officers Association backs the recall effort against Esqueda, De la Torre and Hernandez.

“I ask you remaining council members to do the right thing and save the city embarrassment, step down so that we don’t have to continue to support the community’s efforts to recall you,” said the association’s president Irwin Rosenberg. 

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