Fuentes: Hard work got me elected

first_imgUnofficial returns showed Fuentes with 50.86 percent of the vote, followed at 20 percent by Jose Bonilla Sr., the only Republican in the race. Rounding out the ballot were F. Philip Siordia with 12.4 percent; Eric Rothenay with 11.4 percent; and Margie Carranza with 5.2 percent. The district is heavily Democratic – more than 60 percent of the 112,000 voters. And it has had three members of the Assembly in the span of two years. “In many ways, Fuentes is emblematic of the new Latino politician in California,” said Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. “He is young and energetic, he knows how to get things done and he’s ambitious.” Bonilla said he is holding out hope that the results of roughly 500 uncounted provisional and absentee ballots could force Fuentes into a runoff. “I’m not convinced he really knows this district,” Bonilla said. “I know he is known by the people downtown, but I’m not sure he knows the community groups or the chambers or the neighborhood councils and their concerns. He may have had more key endorsements and more contributions than his four opponents, but Felipe Fuentes said Wednesday that it was plain hard work that got him elected to the 39th Assembly District. In the monthlong campaign, he said, he walked precincts, worked telephone banks and met for coffee with voters. “If I had an advantage, it is that I grew up in this area and I have been working in this district almost nonstop since 1999,” said Fuentes, a former top aide to former Mayor James Hahn, chief deputy to Sen. Alex Padilla when he was on the City Council and a consultant to current Councilman Richard Alarcón. “This is the kind of work I wanted to do ever since then. I think having the support I did was helpful, but it didn’t match the hard work I put into this.” “I guess we’ll see what he does,” he said. “For me, I told people we needed an assemblyman who would work on the things that concern them – reducing the costs at community colleges and Cal State (University), the schools that working people go to. “It just seems like we haven’t had any real representation out here for a while. Whoever we have seems to be running for something else.” The political drama of the district has been unprecedented – all prompted by term limits and political ambition. Just days after being elected to the 39th Assembly District seat last November, Alarcón announced his plans to return to the City Council for a third term, under the provisions of the voter-approved Proposition R. Fuentes and former Assemblywoman Cindy Monta ez dropped out of the council race to replace Padilla, clearing the path for Alarcón to win and Fuentes to run for his Assembly seat. During its meeting Wednesday, the City Council was asked by Alarcón to approve paying Fuentes $7,500 for consulting work. The request was originally for $20,000, but Alarcón reduced it to reflect the time Fuentes actually worked. “Felipe was able to help explain how the city worked to my staff so we could get to work immediately,” Alarcón said. Alarcón also disputed the notion of Fuentes being anointed to the job because of his political connections. “It’s not like he’s some kid with no experience just starting out,” Alarcón said. “He is very talented. He cares about the district, he works hard and I would be supporting him even if he wasn’t on my staff. It isn’t often you see someone with his talent come along.” For Fuentes, Alarcón said, the move to Sacramento will be a learning experience and one during which he has to resist the temptations of serving in the state Capitol. “It is a very seductive atmosphere,” Alarcón said. “I would encourage him to make sure he comes home as often as he can. He has to be in Sacramento to vote, but other than that, I would tell him to stay in contact with his district.” Fuentes, who is married and has a 3-month-old daughter, said he is aware of that and plans to return as often as he can. “I haven’t even figured out where I’ll be living in Sacramento yet, although a number of people have called up and offered me a room,” Fuentes said. “I am very eager to begin work. I want to get involved in the budget process and make sure we get our fair share and make sure the Valley gets its fair share of the bonds that the voters passed last year.” rick.orlov@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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