City Council runoff rivals Jose Gardea and Gil Cedillo will face off in back-to-back debates on issues affecting the First District later this month — first in English, then in Spanish.
During the primary, candidates for the First District council seat participated in a forum in English, with translation provided from the sidelines, said Monica Alcaraz, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council. The district, which extends from Northeast L.A. to the Pico-Union area, includes a large percentage of Latino residents and Spanish speakers.
"People were asking us why we don't have the debate in Spanish, because things get lost in the translation," Alvarez said.
The answer was to present two debates, she said. She's looking for a bilingual moderator to handle both hour-long debates on April 27 at the Highland Park Recreation Center. The English version is at 10 a.m., the Spanish at 11:30 a.m.
Both candidates are Mexican-American. Cedillo grew up speaking English and learned Spanish about 14 years ago when he was elected to the state Legislature. Gardea grew up speaking Spanish at home. Both candidates use Spanish when campaigning door-to-door.
The debates are presented by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, in partnership with the Highland Park Heritage Trust, Montecito Heights Improvement Association and the Mt. Washington Alliance.