UPDATED, including quotes from outgoing ERNC President Michael Larsen and background information about factual-basis stakeholders.
Eagle Rock residents turned out in droves to vote for elections to the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Saturday, helping elect Michael Nogueira, one of five contestants for the post of president who had the backing of outgoing ERNC President Michael Larsen, according to preliminary poll results.
Nogueira, who is the president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, earned 309 votes, defeating his closest rival, Nelson Grande II, by just 26 votes—an 8.4-percent margin that rendered the preliminary result so close that it can technically be challenged for a recount. (Close races with a margin of 10 percent or less may be challenged within five days of the preliminary results, after which the results become final if unchallenged.)
But Grande said he is not going to contest the count. "I don't want to put the community through that," he told Eagle Rock Patch. "My goal going in was to create more awareness—the council went from [approximately] 80 votes in 2010 to [nearly] 800 today. I accomplished my goal."
A total of 792 people voted in the elections, according to Glenn Bailey, an independent election administrator for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment who helped supervise the Oct. 13 voting at Eagle Rock City Hall.
The vote count included six votes received by mail and 313 votes cast by so-called "factual-basis" stakeholders who do not live, work or own businesses in Eagle Rock but who are able to demonstrate their stake in the community by producing at least one sales receipt from a local business.
"I'm glad the people of Eagle Rock came out and voted—it's a huge victory for us," Larsen told Eagle Rock Patch.
Larsen had helped launch the Eagle Rock Neighbors Slate, a group of 10 contenders led by Nogueira, in an effort to counter the Progress & Collaboration Slate led by Grande. All but one of contestants in the Eagle Rock Neighbors Slate (Civic Director aspirant Sande Seto) scored victories in the election.
In contrast, six of the Progress & Collaboration Slate contestants were defeated. They include Tim Ryder, president of the Cannabis Clubs United With the Community, who ran for Public Safety Director, and his mother Cecilia Ryder, who ran for Treasurer. Grande's spouse, Erykah Grande, and Eagle Rock businessman Anthony Freeny, were defeated for the two seats for the post of Business Director. Also defeated was novelist and University of California Riverside creative writing Professor Mark Haskell Smith.
The Progress & Collaboration Slate scored two victories: Eagle Rock real estate agent Eddie Ramirez won one of the two seats for Civic Director, and Baker Montgomery won the seat for Sub-District 1 Director, defeating incumbent Duy Tran.
The large turnout was evidently prompted by fears of an impending "takeover" of the ERNC by the Progress & Collaboration slate, which appeared to get a major boost Thursday evening amid news that the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770, a powerful labor union backing employees of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, had appealed to its members to vote for P&C contestants by showing up at the polls as factual-basis stakeholders.
Although voting by factual-basis stakeholders is permitted by Los Angeles City Council laws and by ERNC bylaws, the precise definition of such stakeholders is not entirely clear and is open to legal challenges.
"I'm glad we didn't have to go through the whole legal challenge because there were a lot of [Eagle Rock] lawyers who were ready to take on the city on the stakeholder issue," Larsen said.
Across Neighborhood Councils in Northeast Los Angeles, the total number of votes cast on Saturday was as much as 74 percent higher than in the most recent Neighborhood Council elections in 2010, according to Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Project Coordinator Stephen Box.
"For Glassell Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Boyle Heights it was a huge day—Northeast LA has a lot to be proud of," Box said. "The Neighborhood Councils in the region went above and beyond their calling in turning elections into election events, giving people something to do beyond just voting."
In Arroyo Seco, the Neighborhood Council featured a taco stand, with music, to celebrate the elections with voters, Box said, adding that the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, where Council member Josè Huizar voted (he also voted in the El Sereno NC elections), celebrated with a chicken barbeque. "On many levels it was really a wonderful day."
Here are the preliminary results of the winning candidates in Eagle Rock:
President: MICHAEL NOGUEIRA (309 votes)
Treasurer: ASHLEY ATKINSON (362 votes)
Youth Director: CAROLINE RONCALLI (437 votes)
Civic Director: IRENA SETA (324 votes)
Civic Director: EDDIE RAMIREZ (308 votes)
Business Director: GREGORY LUKE: 284 votes)
Business Director: LIAM ROTH (256 votes)
Education Director: JENNIFER NUTTING (477 votes)
Faith-Based Director: ANDREA ANDERSON (425 votes)
Public Safety Director: JOSÉ POSADA (364 votes)
Sub-District 1 Director: BAKER MONTGOMERY (334 votes)
Sub-District 2 Director: CAROLYN TRIBE (545 votes)
Sub-District 3 Director: OREN BITAN (434 votes)
Sub-District 4 Director: MICHELLE FRIER (430 votes)
Sub-District 5 Director: MATT HARRINGTON (328 votes)
Sub-District 6 Director: ETHAN WEISS (419 votes)
Sub-District 7 Director: MICHAEL BLANCHARD (412 votes)
Sub-District 8 Director: DAVID GREENE (536 votes)
Stay tuned for our video and further reporting about the voting in Eagle Rock.