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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / San Gabriel City Council refuses to swear in Chin Ho Liao

San Gabriel City Council refuses to swear in Chin Ho Liao

by Terry Miller
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San Gabriel City Council refuses
to swear in Chin Ho Liao

Investigation, Lawsuits pending

By Terry Miller

On Tuesday evening Jason Pu was sworn-in and took his seat on city council to rounds of applause. However for another top vote getter, Chin Ho Liao, it was not much of a celebration.
Council decided to seek further guidance regarding the challenge brought forth by several citizens regarding Liao’s eligibility to be on council, essentially due to his domicile.
Pu, Liao and Sawkins received the highest votes in the March 5 election for three open council seats, beating out incumbents Mario De La Torre and David Gutierrez.
There was also a “challenge” raised regarding provisional votes to which the precinct board said it wouldn’t affect the outcome and therefore “ would not be counted.”
The challenge to Chin Ho Liao’s election certification was brought forth by Fred Paine of San Gabriel who now has threatened a lawsuit (with other residents) should the city decide to take no action on the matter and allow Liao’s votes to count and swear him in.
On Tuesday evening the City of San Gabriel heard comments on both sides of the “Challenge/contest to the qualifications of Chin Ho Liao to act as a member of the San Gabriel city council.” Liao’s attorney, Daniel Abramson on March 22, sent a letter to council requesting the agenda item be removed claiming the council has no such authority. Robert Kress, City Attorney for San Gabriel countered that, in fact, the city DOES have the authority under Elections Code section 36812.
The debate was lengthy and confusing to not only the general public but for the staff and council. “ we are in unchartered territory here…” was the repeated mantra.
Meanwhile, during public comment on the challenge to Liao’s qualifications, supporters repeatedly said the council had no authority to deny Liao a seat on council as he was the second highest vote getter in the March 5 election.
A dozen or so spoke on the issue Tuesday, including former mayors Cici and Baldwin, in defense of swearing in Liao. The overwhelming feeling in the audience was also one of support for Liao. There were also repeated calls from residents who called for the city attorney to step down. Some more vocal than others.
One man held up a sign saying “Swear in NOW” during public comment on the matter. This same speaker demanded the removal of the city attorney.
As the complicated hullabaloo unfolds, staff at the city of San Gabriel has also been asked to investigate several allegations of election poll-workers who were “providing direct candidate recommendations to voters” in two precincts on March 5.
Assistant City Manager Marcella Marlowe said “The two precincts concerned were 1 and 6 (Coolidge and Dewey polling places).”
Voting Precinct 1 Inspector March 5 was Carolina Gavia and precinct 6 Inspector on March 5 was Andrew Nava. In both precincts there were 5 and 6 clerks respectively. “As for the complaint and complainant(s), because there is a pending investigation, neither of those pieces of information are public record at this time, ” Marcella said.
The city maintains that while this may have happened, the outcome of the election would not be affected; “ Even without the two precincts in question, Mr. Pu, Mr. Sawkins and Mr. Liao still received the highest number of votes,” according to Assistant City Manager Marcella Marlowe.
On Tuesday morning city staff met with the District Attorney to discuss the matter after the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office received a number of complaints regarding the activity of some poll workers’ at two polling places.
Precinct misconduct has been a national issue since voting began and on a local level in municipal elections it is no less illegal. “Pollworkers serve on the frontline of democracy. Your commitment to public service is a tribute to you and your communities.” Dean Logan , Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said.
Beacon Media contacted Los Angeles County Registrar- Recorder for comment on what the legal ramifications are with such impropriety. According to media spokesperson Regina Ip from Registrar’s office there are “no fines or penalties the county can implement.” However, Ip said that the names of those found providing direct candidate recommendations to voters will be “ placed on a No-Hire list.”
Assistant City Manager Marcella Marlowe said the city has been working to address the complaints, which forced the council to cancel the last council meeting allowing certification of the results and swearing in.

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