Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

San Gabriel withholds election results as D.A. reviews misconduct complaint

San Gabriel's city clerk has delayed filing official results of the March 5 election and swearing in new City Council members for at least a week while officials investigate complaints of misconduct in the election.

Normally, results in the election of three council members, treasurer, city clerk plus a ballot measure would have been certified two weeks after the election and the newly-elected members would have been sworn in.

The Los Angeles District Attorney Public Integrity Unit is reviewing an e-mail complaint it received about San Gabriel's election, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Monday. She declined to say more about the complaint.

San Gabriel Assistant City Manager Marcella Marlowe also declined to be specific about the reason for the delayed certification of the election results, saying in an e-mail that due to high public interest in the election, the "post-election process has taken longer than usual to complete."

The City Council meets in special session March 26 to receive the official results.

Five candidates ran for three open seats. Incumbent Mayor Kevin Sawkins and City Council members David Gutierrez and Mario De La Torre ran as the Team San Gabriel slate. 

In the city's most recent update of the vote count, March 12, candidates Jason Pu and Chin Ho Liao, both Chinese-Americans, were  the  top two vote-getters, with Sawkins third by just one vote. The count includes some 600 provisional and mail-in ballots that could not be processed in time to be counted election night.

Preliminary Semi-official Canvass, March 12

  • 21.6%     Jason Pu                    
  • 20.4%     Chin Ho Liao  (1,714 votes)
  • 20.4%     Kevin B. Sawkins   (1,713 votes)
  • 19.2%     Mario De La Torre                 
  • 18.5%     David R. Gutierrez     

The provisional ballots erased an early lead held by  Sawkins and De La Torre on election night:

Preliminary Results, March 5

  • 21.0%     Kevin B. Sawkins
  • 20.5%     Jason Pu                    
  • 19.8%     Mario De La Torre       
  • 19.3%     David R. Gutierrez     
  • 19.1%     Chin Ho Liao           

Liao said the complaint to the City Clerk likely stemmed from an incident at Precinct 6, in the south part of San Gabriel, which has the largest concentration of Asian residents.

Liao said he and a few observers who were present on behalf of the three incumbents saw a poll worker at the Dewey Avenue School cafeteria assisting an elderly Asian voter with the English language ballot.

While the sample ballot booklets mailed to voters are in several languages, the city's ballots are only in English, said Liao, adding that  he considered it legal for the poll worker to offer assistance in that situation. He said some voters who cast provisional ballots wrote his name on them in Chinese characters, and said the city had to engage an interpreter to read the characters.

The City Council has not had any Asian members in recent years.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the San Gabriel United Chinese Association backed one of the candidates. The association exists to promote Chinese culture and does not endorse any political candidates, according to President Shawn Chou.

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