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Calexico council candidates muscling for position

January 24, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — This just in — the latest news on the March 5 local elections here.

· Mayor Victor Carrillo plans to ask the council for power to appoint his replacement if he beats incumbent Tony Tirado in the Board of Supervisors District 1 race. A Carrillo win would free a third council seat.

· Immigration consultant James Beaver has dropped out of the Calexico City Council race. His withdrawal winnows the field to nine candidates for two seats. Beaver said the recent death of his mother would not allow him to devote 100 percent of his energies to the residents of Calexico.

· The last big election in November 2000 was highlighted by a tight City Council race between Frank Montoya and Lupita Rios. Montoya officially bested Rios by 16 votes after a hand recount.

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Rios is back on the ballot, but as Bob Dylan sang "things have changed."

In 2000 Rios was the executive director of the Calexico Housing Authority. This year she is a freelance consultant. Rios was fired by the Housing Authority board of commissioners late last year after an independent assessment of the authority noted, "It appears conflict between the board and the executive director began when (Rios) ran for a seat on the City Council."

Speaking on the differences between this year and 2000, Rios said, "Obviously people voted for me because they felt there was something in my bio that they could support. We're working very hard to have the same support or increase it."

· Councilman Javier Alatorre is the only incumbent running this year. In 2000, incumbents Carrillo and John Renison won handily.

He added, "The people that are working on the campaign are working as hard as ever. I have listened to the advice that you should always campaign as if you are last in the race."

· While Alatorre courts those who want to "continue the progress," candidate Henry Legaspi, from a well-known and long-involved Calexico family, should be able to marshal support from "old Calexico."

One of the issues Legaspi will be focusing on during his campaign is a re-examination of the city Redevelopment Agency's role. He said, "The RDA grants monies to any developer, commercial or otherwise, that puts on a good show and infrastructure be damned!"

· In dropping out of the race, Beaver vowed to throw his political weight behind candidates Alex Perrone and David De Leon.

Perrone is the economic development coordinator for the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program.

Beaver said, "I feel (Perrone) could bring about a change in leadership to the council, due to his expertise in business administration and public relations, which would be an asset to the community."

Perrone has said he is excited to be a part of the race.

De Leon is a driving instructor at Calexico High School and a background investigator for the county Sheriff's Office.

De Leon is counting on the 4,000 students he has taught to drive to vote for him, along with the votes of Beaver's supporters.

"They're my kids. They know me pretty well," he said of his former students.

· Candidate David Ouzan has been busy on the board of the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District and his downtown 99-cent Store.

Recently he opposed a proposal to pay Heffernan board members. In public session at City Council meetings and at Heffernan meetings he has been a free-spoken advocate of fiscal restraint.

· Another candidate is Ricardo Ortega, director of Calexico's Neighborhood House and a former councilman.

"What's giving me confidence is the positive feedback I'm getting from people," Ortega said.

Ortega has listened to residents complain about the city's understaffed Police Department and lack of recreation opportunities. Ortega said he is excited by the challenge of dealing with those issues.

· Calexico resident and Heber School District librarian Sylvia Bernal is working on a grass-roots campaign.

"My main goal is to talk to people," she said.

Some of the female voters she has talked to said, "It's about time for a woman on the council," she said.

While she appreciates their support she's not making her gender a big deal in her campaign.

The former local school board member said, "I don't want to lose the male vote, either."

· Handyman Carlos Rocha hasn't put up many signs touting his candidacy but that's part of his master plan.

"I'm waiting because the wind has been blowing. I'm waiting for this weekend to start putting up my posters," he said.

Rocha plans to organize a "family weekend" for his supporters in Rockwood Plaza or another local park.

"People could put their own booths there; you know, something to benefit the residents of Calexico," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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