It was a race plagued by controversial advertisements and accusations of misuse of public funds, but when it came down to it, Cerritos residents had their say in the March 5 election, giving a nod of support to incumbent Carol K. Chen and longtime businessman George Ray.
Chen and Ray earned the most votes among the seven candidates vying for two open seats on the Cerritos City Council, according to results read by Cerritos City Clerk Vida Barone on Tuesday night.
Chen: Residents Saw Past Negative Tactics in Election Race
Chen, the lone incumbent in the race, led the way with 3,438 votes. Throughout her campaign, the former mayor stressed the importance of the city maintaining an aggressive, creative and competitive approach in its local economic efforts to help establish a long-term revenue stream. Chen also emphasized the need for the council to continue delivering a high level of service to its residents and business community.
Having served on the council since 2008, Chen earned widespread community support despite being the target of controversial advertisements and articles published in the Los Cerritos Community News accusing her of misusing public funds during city business trips -- something Chen has steadfastly denied.
A smiling Chen, who appeared relieved but also fueled by a sense of redemption, made reference to the community newspaper's allegations when she addressed the crowd gathered at the council chambers after the final results were announced.
"Thanks to our residents, who are the most intelligent and worthy of knowing what is going on in this city," she said. "It's really gratifying to know that our residents can see through some of the unfortunate negativity in this election, which is so unwarranted and not representative of our community. We are such a harmonious community, with a lot of important issues at hand to deal with."
"I'm so glad you have seen through all that and have chosen the best candidates to serve you," Chen said. "I am truly grateful for another opportunity to serve you for the next four years."
Ray: Grateful and Overwhelmed by Support Received
Ray, who received the second most votes at 3,316, was greeted with much applause when the final results were announced and he addressed the crowd, expressing deep gratitude to those who supported him throughout his campaign.
"I'm overwhelmed by the residents of Cerritos and the voters who came out and supported me," he said. "And to the many people who helped me and worked on my campaign ... I just can't believe they gave up a piece of their life for the past few months."
Ray went on to thank his wife Beverle, his two daughters and grandchildren, all of whom he says helped him immensely on the campaign trail, "You can't do it alone."
As a businessman with a resume filled with decades of community involvement and service, Ray utilized his vast experience in making tough business decisions as a platform in helping the city move forward in the post-redevelopment fund era.
"I will bring a new sense to the city," he said on Tuesday night. "I think when it comes to the management and the finances, we're going to face some tough times and make some tough decisions. Not everyone will be happy with the decisions we make, but I will work for all the citizens of Cerritos and I thank you very much for your support."
Cerritos mayor Jim Edwards, who will be retiring in eight days, wrapped up the Election night presentation, sharing well wishes for the two newly elected members.
"I wish you two the very best ... I know you will make the tough and right decisions for our city to continue to move ahead."
A Look at the Semi-Official Results
Candidates Frank Aurelio Yokoyama (2,623 votes), James Kang (1,096 votes), K.Y. May (953), Alejandro Estella (613), and Gerad Valencia (203) rounded out the standings.
Here are the Semi-Official Results from the March 5, 2013 Cerritos Municipal Election:
March 5, 2013 Cerritos Municipal Election
Semi-Official Returns for 11 of 11 Precincts
613 * Carol Chen 3438
* According to city clerk Vida Barone, updated voting results will be released on Friday, March 9.