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Vernon City Council Race Draws Three Candidates

Housing costs, public safety and government waste among hot issues

Marisa+Olguin%2C+president+of+the+Vernon+Chamber+of+Commerce%2C+explains+procedures+at+a+recent+council+candidate+forum.+Photo+by+Yeskya+Mondejar.
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Vernon City Council Race Draws Three Candidates

Marisa Olguin, president of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, explains procedures at a recent council candidate forum. Photo by Yeskya Mondejar.

Marisa Olguin, president of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, explains procedures at a recent council candidate forum. Photo by Yeskya Mondejar.

Marisa Olguin, president of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, explains procedures at a recent council candidate forum. Photo by Yeskya Mondejar.

Marisa Olguin, president of the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, explains procedures at a recent council candidate forum. Photo by Yeskya Mondejar.

Yesyka Mondejar, Community News Reporter

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Three Vernon residents who are vying for a spot on the city council described their varying priorities, including lowering rent, fighting homelessness, improving public safety, supporting local businesses, cutting government expenses and protecting the environment.

The Vernon Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum at Holy Angels Church of the Deaf recently to help prepare residents to vote in the April 9 election.

“This is a historic event for the city of Vernon. In many years, the city has not had three candidates run for office,” Marisa Olguin, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, told the audience of more than 40 people.

Measure S, which is also on the ballot would allow the city to rotate its mayor – a common practice among other small cities – instead of electing a mayor, according to the city of Vernon’s website. Two of the candidates said they support the proposed change. Measure T is also on the ballot and much like Measure S, it would create a rotating position for the mayor pro tempore, which is similar to a deputy mayor.

Vernon city council candidates Jason Roberts, Maria Acosta and Carol Menke listen to directions at a recent forum. Photo by Yeskya Mondejar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the forum, each candidate had ten minutes to distinguish themselves from the competition and explain why they’re running for office.

Maria I. Acosta said her goal in office includes improving public safety and creating policies safeguarding the environment.

Acosta, a 3-year resident of the city, earned her associate’s degree in behavioral health and is currently creating her own business, pursuing culinary arts and working in the aviation industry.

“I come from immigrant parents who taught me honesty and hard work, these qualities will enable me to make good choices for the city and maintain the trust of the residents and the business community” said Acosta.

Carol R. Menke said she wants to cut the city government’s costs and support business owners and new business models.

Menke, who has lived in Vernon for 10 years, was raised by her grandparents, including her grandpa who worked for the same company for 32 years and only missed one day of work.

“My grandfather taught me work ethic and my grandmother taught me how to cook,” said Menke.

In her early days she sold real estate, she was a paralegal, and went to law school. In 1992, she got a law degree, then later taught at Fullerton College. She now restores and repurposes antiques.

“I think my background makes me uniquely qualified to be on the city council,” she said.

Jason C. Roberts, who has been a Vernon resident for eight years, said lowering rent and attracting new businesses as well as keeping existing ones are among his priorities.

For the past 16 years, he has been working at the Toyota dealership in Downey, and he likened running a city to running the dealership.

With hard work and dedication, he said he moved up the ladder — now running the sales and finance department. He serves on the board of directors for the local business chamber in Commerce, which he said gives back to the community by supporting groups such as “Make a Wish,” “The Arc” and local schools.

“The top issue I see in Vernon is keeping the city transparent and keeping it safe,” said Roberts. He added that homelessness is “a big problem.”  

This is a vote-by-mail election only. Details about the election can be found at www.cityofvernon.org/election.

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to UTCommunityNews@gmail.com.

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