CNN Reporter From Eagle Rock Covers ‘Election Trades Pot for Votes’ Story

In distant Atlanta, ER native Nick Valencia stumbles upon his hometown’s bitterly contested neighborhood council elections.

CNN’s weekend correspondent Nick Valencia was perusing the Drudge Report on Sunday morning when a link to a CBS story about Eagle Rock’s hotly contested Oct. 13 neighborhood council elections caught his eye.

“Pot Prizes May Have Lured More Eagle Rock Residents To Vote,” read the CBS headline, which made Valencia sit up in his seat in the CNN newsroom in Atlanta.

For Valencia, that was highly unusual news—and it was straight out of his hometown. An Eagle Rock native who went to Rockdale Elementary, Valencia graduated from Eagle Rock High School in 2001.

Struck by the fact that such a contentious election had occurred back home, Valencia wasted little time in contacting Eagle Rock Patch as well as some of the former candidates for the council, particularly Nelson Grande II, who ran unsuccessfully for the post of president from the Progress & Collaboration slate, which is at the center of the electoral controversy.

“I thought it was a fascinating hyperlocal look into controversies that corrupt the election process,” Valencia told Eagle Rock Patch Sunday, shortly after CNN aired his story about the ERNC elections during the cable news network’s 5 p.m. broadcast.

Click here to watch Valencia’s report about the ERNC elections.

In an interview that he gave to Valencia, Grande denied the P&C slate has anything to do with a mysterious flyer that promised $40 worth of free medical marijuana to anyone who voted in the ERNC elections.

Valencia said he was especially struck by the fact that so-called factual-basis stakeholders who neither live nor work in Eagle Rock and don’t own any business there were permitted to vote in the elections just because they were able to produce a receipt for something as small as a cup of coffee purchased in the neighborhood.

Valencia was on the air again with anchor Carol Costello in the "CNN Newsroom" show on Monday at 7 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) to talk about the controversial neighborhood council election from his hometown.

Valencia joined CNN as a teleprompter operator in 2006, a year after graduating from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He rose to the rank of correspondent and began reporting the weekend news fulltime this past summer. As president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, he coordinates scholarship awards and helps host workshops and "newsmaker" discussions led by members.

Over the years, Valencia has reported on everything from the 2010 Gulf oil spill and the WikiLeaks controversy to the July 2012 mass shootings in Aurora, CO and Mexico’s continuing drug war.

But not all the news in the world can make Valencia forget about his beloved Eagle Rock, where he returns often.

“I’ve never known another home,” he told Eagle Rock Patch. “The house I came home to after I was delivered is the same house my mom lives in now.” He added: “Dad passed away in 2001 or he’d be there, too.”

Click here for a wide variety of all our past stories and videos about the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.

nonoise October 24, 2012 at 03:26 PM
AFG, I agree the shops should be spread out. There are only a couple in Cypress Park and I have seen no problem with them. I drive by them and see no one standing outside and I never see any problems. Some owners are probly better than others. Those shops that have problems should be shut down. Just like any business some are good and some are not. Sorry that Eagle Rock somehow ended up with more than their fair share. The list of candidates endorsed by the pot shops was probly legal. Other businesses endorse candidates also so I don't see what the problem is. They want to endorse candidates tha support their cause just like any other business. Unless, I am missing something, I don't see an issue with endorsing candidates and I think that is all the flyer does.
AFG October 25, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I thought it promised $40 of free medication????
Greg Nelson October 29, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Does anyone know of anyone who collected the flyer's offer?
bbkong October 29, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Yet another unanswered question lies fallow. And where would they collect it? And how would they prove they voted for the right slate? A month later and it still smells fishy.
Jerry Langford October 29, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Hi Tim - it sounds like neither you nor Joe/bbkong actually voted in the election. You don't vote, you can't complain about the results! But that's neither here nor there. To answer your question, here's how it went down on voting day: There were cardboard dividers up everywhere, just like in a "real" polling place, but since we were filling out pencil-and-paper ballots, you could move them around, and if you wanted to fill them out on your lap (meaning, not inside the cardboard shield), you could. Most people who've voted before knew to put their ballot on the table, inside the shield, if they cared about anonymity. I didn't care who saw my ballot, and neither did the "pot voters" near me. And I'll reiterate that the poll workers were top-notch, and inspiring to anyone who cares about democracy (even Joe). The poll workers helped everyone out, especially the pot voters, some of whom had obviously never filled out a ballot before, and needed their hands held throughout the process.


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