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Recall for three San Fernando politicians set for November ballot

The recall of San Fernando's mayor, councilwoman and a former councilman is set for Nov. 6 at a cost of $43,000 in total.
The recall of San Fernando's mayor, councilwoman and a former councilman is set for Nov. 6 at a cost of $43,000 in total. Alice Walton/KPCC

The personal indiscretions of three San Fernando politicians have overshadowed the city’s business, and in November, voters will have the opportunity to recall those electeds from office. 

The San Fernando City Council agreed last night to move ahead with the Nov. 6 recall. Mayor Brenda Esqueda, Councilwoman Maribel de la Torre and former Councilman Mario Hernandez’s names will all appear on the ballot. Voters will be asked whether they want to remove each person from office and if so, who should replace them. 

It is the latest chapter for San Fernando, which is just 2.5-square-miles and home to 25,000 residents. The city has been so rocked by the personal scandals of the three politicians that Councilwoman Sylvia Ballin described feeling like she was at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in “Alice in Wonderland.” The fifth member of the council, Mayor Pro Tem Antonio Lopez, urged Esqueda and de la Torre to follow in Hernandez’s steps and leave office.

“In the best interest of the city, I encourage you both to resign your council seats. Focus on your personal lives and make your top priority your well-being,” Lopez said.

It was just a week ago that Hernandez resigned. That followed the news that he and de la Torre, his girlfriend, got into a physical fight June 28. Each obtained a restraining order, and on Friday, de la Torre was charged with two misdemeanors of battery and vandalism. News of their affair was made public by Hernandez last November.

Esqueda is accused of having an affair with a local police sergeant. She had not responded to that allegation. She ended Monday’s meeting in tears as she asked the council to adjourn in memory of her mother, who recently passed away.

The mayor described having to tell her mother she could no longer attend the city council meetings,  “due to all of the comments that nobody should ever hear about their daughter. So, I just want to say I’d love to close this meeting in her memory and that I love you mommy.”

Both Esqueda and de la Torre declined to comment on the November recall.

It cost the city of San Fernando $10,000 to verify the thousands of signatures gathered for the recall. City officials had budgeted $50,000 for the special election however, because it will be consolidated with Los Angeles County’s Nov. 6 election, the recall will cost San Fernando $33,000. 

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