UPDATE: MARCH 4, 2020 – 5:56 PM – BELL, CALIFORNIA – Councilman Nestor Enrique Valencia Issues Statement – Valencia thanked his supporters while condemning city officials for their lack of transparency and violating the public’s trust. He acknowledged being down in the count but has vowed to continue to hold elected officials accountable regardless of the eventual outcome of the race once all of the votes are counted. “Thank you very much to all of you…we keep looking forward and don’t end our commitment to the Bell Resident Club’s mission and promise; Community First!”
BELL, CALIFORNIA, MARCH 4, 2020 – Incumbent City Councilman Nestor Enrique Valencia is in a fight for re-election in the City of Bell. The race is still too close to call with newcomer Monica Arroyo-Khatib leading the returns followed by Incumbent City of Bell Mayor Ali Saleh, and City Councilman Fidencio Joel Gallardo coming in at a close third. Valencia is currently within 50 votes of Gallardo in a closely watched race within Southeast Los Angeles.
The City of Bell has long been rocked with scandal and controversy. Voters mounted a recall effort to unseat the entire city council in 2010 following the resignation of former City Manager Robert Rizzo and his Assistant Angela Spaccia, who were both sentenced to prison. Valencia is a founder of the Bell Resident Club, a community watchdog group formed to promote civic engagement and transparency in local government. Gallardo was a member of BASTA, or the Bell Association to Stop The Abuse, which was formed during the recall with the intent to save the City of Bell Police Department. The two groups have since fizzled although three members of the current city council were financially supported by the Bell Police Officer’s Association or Bell POA.
Valencia was first elected in 2011 and subsequently elected Mayor by his colleagues in 2014. He was reelected to the Bell City Council in 2015. As Mayor he led the council in voting to authorize support for a temporary shelter to be utilized in the City of Bell at a warehouse owned by the Salvation Army which was once used as an immigration and naturalization office. Valencia immigrated to the United States as a child and ultimately became a United States Citizen. He attended local schools and graduated from Bell High School.
Valencia inaugurated the “Bell Teacher of the Year Awards” in 2012 to honor educators and professionals who serve students that attend schools within the City of Bell. He has been seen as a model for reform in local politics and built a reputation of encouraging residents to become more involved in their communities, to attend city council meetings and ask questions. Ever an advocate for volunteerism, Valencia has served his community as a coach on city soccer teams and currently serves as an official at local school football games. He has been an outspoken advocate for a greener city, promoting more parks and open space in the City of Bell and the Southeast. He recently partnered with the environmental conservation organization Tree People, based in the City of Los Angeles, and the State of California Conservation Corps to help plant trees along Bell Avenue in honor of Charles Standing, a local resident of Bell who was active and beloved in his community.
Follow WatchOurCity.com for updates to this story and for more election results as they become available.