Bell residents on Tuesday had a chance to make historic change and recall its embattled City Council in favor of new slates. They recalled four council members.
The results included victories for Ali Saleh, Nestor Valencia, Violeta Alvarez. Danny Harber was elected to succeed Teresa Jocobo, who was caught up in the salary scandal but decided nonetheless to fight for her seat. Ana Maria Quintana looked good to fill another seat vacated by Councilman Luis Artiga.
The election followed summer's salary scandal in which city manager Robert Rizzo was discovered to be making as much as $1.5 million in take-home and benefits.
Rizzo, assistant city manager Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, City Council members Luis Artiga, Jacobo and George Mirabal, and former City Council members George Cole and Victor Bello ultimately faced charges of misappropriating public funds.
While the rest of the current council walked away from the ballot, a defiant Jacobo was running. Lorenzo Velez, a sitting councilman who was not implicated in the salary scandal, was also vying to stay on-board.
Two distinct slates independent of City Hall emerged among the sixteen candidates for the council seats:
A faction in favor of retaining the services of the Bell Police Department (United4Bell) included Violeta Alvarez, Fidencio Gallardo, Danny Harber, and Ali Saleh.
The opposing group says disbanding the department and going with sheriff's services could save the cash-strapped city $4 million.
Justice for Bell included Miguel Sanchez, recently deceased, as well as Nestor Enrique Valencia and Mario S. Rivas.