RATES       _______________________________ LM __________________________________


By Brian Hews

The La Mirada City Council, at this past Nov. 14 city council meeting, adopted an ordinance moving election dates and extending the current council’s term by 12 months.

The action will move elections to coincide with statewide dates and was designed to increase the turnout at subsequent elections.

The 2017 elections, marred by campaign finance irregularities by current Councilman Andrew Sarega and losing candidate Tony Aiello, produced extremely low voter turnout.

Residents blamed the Sarega and Aiello campaigns for the turnout, as both their campaigns used dirty tactics and extremely derogatory campaign materials never seen before in La Mirada aimed at their two opponents, John Lewis and Pauline Deal.


Andrew Serega and Tony Aiello shown in a direct mail piece.

Lewis beat Aiello, but Deal lost to Sarega, with Sarega massively outspending Deal with money that came from an independent expenditure committee run by La Mirada resident Ionel Imbre.

The committee has been connected to current 48th Congressional candidate Stelian Onufrie, who’s campaign manager is Sarega.

Coordination between an independent expenditure committee and a candidate is a violation of California Fair Political Practices laws.

Both Sarega and Aiello are currently under investigation by the FPPC for campaign finance irregularities connected to the committee that took pace during the campaigns, with both looking at heavy fines if found guilty.

The ordinance moves the 2021 District 1 and 2 elections to 2022 adding one year to Lewis and Sarega’s terms.

Similarly, the ordinance moves the 2019 District 3, 4, and 5 elections to 2020, adding one year to Mayor Eng,  Mayor pro tem Mowles, and Councilman Steve De Ruse’s terms.

La Mirada Mayor Ed Eng told the La Mirada Lamplighter, “The move will motivate greater voter turnout and at the same time, allow time for residents to evaluate the best qualified candidates to represent them.”

Councilman John Lewis told the Lamplighter, “My basis for voting for the move from March of odd years to the new primary date of March in even years is that the move makes California more relevant in the national primaries and other elections. In the past the California primary was in June and the candidates were already narrowed down to one or two by the time California voted.  Now, in a March primary, the voter turnout has a possibility of being higher than the general election as most everyone will be backing a candidate for the primary election date wherein in the general election in November, only two of the main party candidates will be running and if a voter’s candidate didn’t win in the primary, they may not show up in November.  Therefore, March has a potential for bringing out more voters.”

City officials said that the mailers notifying voters of the change will cost about $10,300 and is a one-time cost.

Consolidating the elections should save the City about $40-$50,000 per election.

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