Loading...

Assembly District 39's Dilemma 

Alarcon, circling the drain over corruption charges? Or yes-man Bocanegra?

Thursday, Nov 1 2012
Comments
8310793.t.jpg

In the highly charged race between indicted L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon and another political insider, Raul Bocanegra, the mostly Latino voters of Assembly District 39 in the northeast San Fernando Valley are not getting the choice some had hoped for: at least one candidate who stands for a different kind of politics.

Alarcon, an unusually persistent seat-switcher who has spent little of his life outside government, has held an L.A. City Council seat twice — separated by stints as a state senator and assemblyman in Sacramento. Once popular on the Latino left, he's been too focused on job-hopping for power, according to District Attorney Steve Cooley. Prosecutors are pursuing Alarcon for 17 felony counts of perjury and voter fraud, for lying about where he lived when he ran for and won his current District 7 seat.

The "home" Alarcon claimed on official papers, prosecutors say, is an abandoned derelict property in a somewhat rough area of Panorama City — while Alarcon and his wife actually lived outside District 7, in an attractive Spanish Colonial house in tree-lined Sun Valley.

Related Stories

  • City Hall Convict 2

    We really don't ask much of our City Hall leaders. Some have been drug abusers. Others philanderers. One small hoop they must jump through, however, is that they must live in the place they represent. That, apparently, was too heavy a requirement for former city Councilman Richard Alarcon, who today...
  • Why Are Women Practically Nonexistent on L.A. City Council?

    Of 15 City Council seats, the Valley's may soon have the sole female
  • Solving Los Angeles: 2020 Commission Seeks Far-Reaching Change 2

    Our story begins back in the heady days of March 2013. With Los Angeles knee-deep in the muck of the mayoral election, City Council president Herb Wesson announced the formation of a blue-ribbon committee to figure out just what the hell is wrong with the city's economy, find some way...
  • Porn vs. Sacramento 4

    Porn stars are getting hot and bothered over a proposed state law that would require condom use in adult video. Condoms are already required for such production in most of L.A. County and at on-location shoots in the city of Los Angeles. See also: Porn's Mandatory Condom Bill Passes Key Hurdle...
  • Quake Shocker 7

    In ex - City Councilman Hal Bernson's day, Los Angeles was a leader in preparing for the Big One, the 7 magnitude or greater earthquake that geologists say is inevitable and overdue - and will be unleashed upon Los Angeles by the San Andreas, Hollywood, Puente Hills, Santa Monica or...

There was early talk that a transformative figure might rise up to represent Assembly District 39 — perhaps a fed-up, anti-Sacramento activist from a neighborhood council. But the northeast Valley's legendary, old-guard comadre network of interlocking families is backing Bocanegra, an insider groomed by insiders.

Bocanegra worked for ex-City Council president Alex Padilla; he's currently on unpaid leave from his position as chief of staff to controversial Assembly District 39 Rep. Felipe Fuentes, whom the L.A. Weekly profiled in its story "The Worst Legislator in California." Bocanegra also worked briefly for Alarcon.

With Fuentes being forced out of his District 39 seat by term limits — and set to run for a $178,789-per-year seat on the L.A. City Council, Bocanegra, a part-time urban studies teacher at Cal State Northridge, wants Fuentes' $135,000-per-year legislative spot.

On his website, Bocanegra promises he will "stand up to special interests and career politicians who are bankrupting our state."

But Jamie Regalado, a longtime political analyst, says that Bocanegra is even more connected in the state capital than Alarcon. With Alarcon possibly circling the drain, three state senators, 14 Assembly members and the California Democratic Party have endorsed Bocanegra. "Most people know [Bocanegra] as Felipe [Fuentes'] chief of staff," Regalado says. "Some people may get turned off by what looks like a hand-off from a politician."

The race is an example of the new "top two" law in California. Democrat Bocanegra defeated Democrat Alarcon in the June open primary. No Republican came close to them in votes, so none is on the ballot. Regalado calls it an "even race."

Bocanegra campaign spokesman Pat Dennis says, "It is pretty clear that [Alarcon] is losing, is desperate, and his campaign is in a tailspin."

Alarcon hits back. "I feel like I'm running against the invisible man. You never see him in the community."

Somewhat humorously, Alarcon charges that Bocanegra is "not new blood" and his "career is tied to politicians."

Dennis snaps, "Alarcon has spent a career using his position to help his friends, jump from office to office, and now his complete focus is on the criminal charges he is facing. This is a district with honest, hard-working families. They want someone who will focus on improving schools and creating jobs."

Once an aide for Mayor Tom Bradley and later a powerful, often imperious, chairman of the state Senate Labor Committee, Alarcon, 58, soon could get a taste of life without power — if his former aide, 41-year-old Bocanegra, brings down the curtain on him. If that happens, will Bocanegra be any different from Alarcon, 17 years from now?

Reach the writer at pmcdonald@laweekly.com

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Here's What Happens When President Obama Comes to L.A.
    President Obama came to town again to rake in some funds and clog some traffic. The only view of his visit you probably saw were the brake lights of the car ahead of you in the traffic jam he caused, but here's what was really going on. All photos by Ted Soqui.
  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.