Activists in the southeastern L.A. County city of Bell say they expect a big turnout at the polls today. For months, many voters there have paid close attention as prosecutors filed corruption charges against several city leaders. People in Bell will choose new occupants for five City Council seats – and may recall two other council members and the mayor.
Contenders among at least 17 candidates for Bell City Council include a health care administrator, an English teacher and a truck driver. Across the board, the campaign motto is pretty much the same: reform Bell.
Less than a month ago, people who arrived late to a candidates’ forum had to search for parking spaces. At least 200 people packed Bell City Hall for the event. Many candidates promised to create an open, transparent government, promote business and clean up Bell's police department.
Miguel Sanchez, 34, was one of those candidates. The special ed teacher’s aide died last week after a bout with flu-like symptoms. He’d campaigned on a slate of candidates that called itself “Justice for Bell.”
Sanchez’s name is still on the ballot, and some people have said they'll vote for him. The new City Council can arrange a special election to fill the seat if he wins.
Sanchez was running to take the place of former councilman Luis Artiga – who, along with seven other officials, faces criminal public corruption charges.