Los Angeles wags had pre-ordained that the sole woman on L.A.'s all-male City Council would be insider Cindy Montanez. But the CW crowd has no grip on how East San Fernando Valley voters think. Voters instead chose Nury Martinez yesterday, a big upset.
Martinez joins 14 males — seven of them transplants from the ossified legislature, often helped by L.A. Times backing. Maybe she'll light a fire under a few butts. As Martinez explained her childhood to L.A. Weekly freelancer Hillel Aron in 2012 on the L.A. School Report website: “My parents did not speak a word of English. They still don't. I was a third grader that could not read or write. I struggled tremendously with the language. So it was a very lonely, very sort of sad time in my life. But my mom never gave up on the fact that we were going to go to college.”
And there's more:
Voters in City Council District 6 tuned in to Martinez. And the heaps of endorsements showered upon her rival Montanez — Mayor Eric Garcetti's backing in particular — blew along the hot dusty hills behind Panorama City and Sun Valley, and just vanished.
On top of that, the hipster social media efforts for Montanez came off looking dreamily ineffective.
L.A. School Report (thanks to Aron, again) reports today in “Shocker in the East Valley” that Wendy Greuel, a big supporter of Nury Martinez, knew how to reach the Valley's voting classes despite her own mayoral defeat, and Garcetti, apparently, did not:
“Eric Garcetti's operatives were tweeting for Cindy, while [Garcetti's opponent] Wendy Greuel's operatives were walking precincts for Nury,” said [Michael] Trujillo, who supported both Greuel and Montanez.
There was a troubling undercurrent to this City Council special election to fill the empty seat left by now-Congressman Tony Cardenas: Martinez's disclosure last week that she had been sexually groped by a neighbor beginning when she was a toddler.
Martinez finally told her parents about the abuse in her 20s — then disclosed it during the campaign.
Martinez said she felt forced to speak up after Montanez accused her and the LAUSD Board of Education of covering up sex abuse by super-sick teacher Paul Chapel at Telfair Elementary School while she was on the board. (See part of attack ad, below:)
Martinez, who's also a former mayor of the wild little city of San Fernando, says she first learned last year about Paul Chapel's 2011 arrest on suspicion of child abuse, because the Los Angeles Daily News called her for comment — it was about to publish a story. Chapel is now incarcerated.
So Martinez came out swinging at Montanez last week. She proved to be tough, and Montanez ended up looking like a heel for accusing Martinez of covering up child sex abuse when Martinez herself had been a tiny victim of it.
But that dust-up isn't how Nury Martinez won the race to be L.A.'s only female City Council member, a situation that takes us back to about the 1300s.
In fact, the absentee voting data show that Martinez had already won the race. Martinez, the less-funded, less-endorsed candidate, beat Montanez in absentee votes, before the ugly sex abuse stuff came up.
One thing is clear: Nury Martinez is a fighter.
We know this because last year Martinez showed real political independence when she supported Senate Bill 1530 authored by Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat.
SB 1530 was extensively covered by the Weekly (read “Why California Democrats Protect Sex Abuser Teachers“).
SB 1530 would have made it easier for schools to fire pervert teachers, physically abusive teachers and drug-abuser teachers — but it was infamously killed when Democratic legislators Betsy Butler, Mike Eng, Wilmer Amina Carter and Das Williams abstained from voting under pressure from the anti-reform California Teachers Association.
A significantly watered-down bill backed by the California Teachers Association, AB 375, now is stuck in a committee. School districts say AB 375 was cleverly designed to maintain status quo, keeping it costly, time-consuming and hard to fire pervert teachers.
Nury Martinez could turn out to be the woman who backed SB 1530 when others skittered for corners, and who fought to get an education because she couldn't read or write in the third grade.
Or, perhaps, she'll turn out to be just one of the guys.