Rafu Staff Report
CERRITOS — Attorney H. Ernie Nishii was elected to a four-year term on the ABC Unified School District Board in Tuesday’s election with 562 votes (39 percent), according to unofficial results released Wednesday.
He unseated Trustee Area 3 incumbent Lynda Johnson (395, 27.41 percent) and beat two other challengers, former school board member Armin Reyes (355, 24.64 percent) and public affairs consulting firm CEO Daniel Fierro (129, 8.95 percent), in an election where voter turnout was as low as 10 percent.
“It was really an experience,” Nishii told The Rafu Shimpo. I was so honored to have so many volunteers on a weekday come out to help us. From the parent groups that I am a part of to the former school parents to the Southeast Japanese School and Community Center board, we had an army of volunteers. Now I must perform.”
He thanked everyone who voted, regardless of whom they supported, saying, “Please stay engaged.”
In a statement prior to the election, Nishii said, “I have the life experience that enables me to listen to you and be your voice. I have walked and knocked in every neighborhood and I have listened. I respect Cerritos voters. We are not afraid to ask tough questions and embrace change because we came from tough beginnings and struggled to reach this city. I am proud of our vision for a better ABC — we are all striving for excellence that we can all be proud of. Thank you, parents, community, educators.”
One political observer said that the outcome was “proof that hard work and being well-spoken and likeable can pay off in a local election.”
Nishii has served on the ABC Legislative Review Committee and Ad Hoc Facilities Committee and the boards of the Whitney Foundation, Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force (also legal counsel), and SEJSCC (also past parent president). He has been co-president of the Leal Foundation, vice president of the PTSA, and chair of the Measure M Committee. He is a recipient of the ABC Standing Ovation Award.
Nishii’s supporters included ABCUSD Board member Sophia Tse and Cerritos Planning Commissioner Larry Sagert. Most local elected and appointed officials endorsed his opponents, including:
Johnson — State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma; Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, former Supervisor Don Knabe; Cerritos Councilmember Naresh Solanki, Planning Commissioner D.J. Jhaveri, former Planning Commissioners Becky Linga, Chuong Vo former mayors Bruce Barrows, Carol Chen, Barry Rabbitt, George Ray; ABCUSD committee members Brad Beach, Hugo Enciso (Ad Hoc Faculty), Greg Uttecht (Finance and Audit), Bryan West (Legislative), Susan Yim (Strategic Planning); Artesia Mayor Ali Taj, Mayor Pro Tem Sally Flowers, Councilmembers Tony Lima and Victor Manalo; Bellflower Councilmember Juan Garza
Reyes — State Treasurer John Chiang; State Sen. Tony Mendoza; Cerritos Mayor Pro Tem Mark Pulido, Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama, Planning Commissioners Jennifer Hong, Jim Giordano and Tatiana Yokoyama Bui, Economic Development Commissioner Carmelita Lampino, Fine Arts and Historical Commissioner Nora Benzon, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Pat Patnaik, former mayors Gloria Kappe, Sherman Kappe, Diana Neeham; ABCUSD board members Olympia Chen, Maynard Law, Leticia Mendoza, former members Celia Spitzer, former Superintendent Gary Smuts; Cerritos College Trustee Marisa Perez, former trustees Tina Cho, Jeanie McHatton; Ocean View School Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin; Los Angeles County Democratic Party; ABC Federation of Teachers Local 2317, ABC AFSCME Local 2229
Fierro — Assemblymember Ian Calderon; Councilmembers Myra Maravilla and Reynaldo Rodriguez of Hawaiian Gardens, Peter Chan of Monterey Park, Margarita Rios of Norwalk, Jose Solorio of Santa Ana, Andrew Rodriguez of Walnut, Josue Alvarado of Whittier; ABC Unified School District Board President Christopher Apodaca; school board members D.R. Heywood (Anaheim Elementary), Connor Traut and Elizabeth Gonzalez (Centralia Elementary), Gino Kwok (Hacienda La Puente), Dora Sandoval (Little Lake City), Jesse Urquidi (Norwalk-La Mirada), Vito Adragna, Irelia Perez (Whittier City)
Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper, which endorsed Reyes, said, “Fierro and Nishii are bright, intelligent, and passionate individuals who have run good campaigns … but the fact that they also attended the same Republican Club meeting with Johnson versus attending the Los Angeles Democratic Party’s endorsement meeting was a red flag HMG-CN cannot ignore.”
Trustee Area 2 incumbent Soo Y. Yoo was unopposed and Olga Rios (232, 61.38 percent) defeated Louise Dodson (146, 18.62 percent) in Trustee Area 6.
The ABCUSD is based in Cerritos and served nearly 21,000 students in the 2014-15 school year.
In other Los Angeles County election results, attorney Gretchen Shepherd Romey, businessman Ken Ude and retired county administrator Susan Jakubowski were elected to the San Marino City Council while real estate consultant Calvin Lo, dentist Hai-Sou Chen, business owner Scott Kwong and real estate broker Eugene C. Sun were out of contention.