Gardena City Council candidate Rodney Tanaka, Cherrystones owner Leonard Kim and City Council Candidate Art Kaskanian at Cherrystones on Election Night. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Rafu Staff Report

GARDENA — Retired police officer and pastor Rodney Tanaka won a seat on the Gardena City Council on Tuesday, leading the field of eight candidates with 2,196 votes (27.62 percent), according to a Friday update.

Planning Commissioner Harout “Art” Kaskanian took second place and also was elected to the council with 1,393 votes (17.52 percent).

Tanaka, who previously ran in 2013, and Kaskanian, who previously ran in 2015, will be serving on the council for the first time. Tanaka, who is not related to former Mayor Paul Tanaka, will also be the only Japanese American council member.

Tanaka did not declare victory during an Election Night gathering at Cherrystones, but said he was optimistic as his lead continued to hold with more precincts reporting.

The other candidates were teacher Paulette Francis (1,311 votes, 16.49 percent), healthcare nonprofit director Charity Chandler-Cole (971, 12.21 percent), Gardena Chamber of Commerce director Wanda Love (769, 9.67 percent), business owner Nolan Jamora (487, 6.13 percent), civil servant Shannon Lawrence (452, 5.68 percent), and broker Cammie Le (372, 4.68 percent).

Tanaka, formerly with the Men’s Ministry at Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles, and Kaskanian, owner of Sam’s Auto Land, ran on a slate with mayoral candidate Tasha Cerda, a current City Council member.

In the mayor’s race, former Councilmember Rachel Johnson initially had a 12-vote lead over Cerda, but Friday’s update had Cerda ahead by 30 votes with 1,039 (21.08 percent) to Johnson’s 1,009 (20.47 percent). Mayor Pro Tem Mark Henderson was third with 935 (18.97 percent).

With provisional and vote-by-mail ballots remaining to be counted, the final outcome will not be certified until March 31.

Councilmember Terrence “Terry” Terauchi, who has previously served as mayor, was fourth with 752 (15.25 percent), followed by Councilmember Dan Medina with 623 (12.64 percent), former Councilmember Ronald Ikejiri with 493 (10.00 percent), and newcomer Warren Kronberger with 79 (1.60 percent).

Cerda and Terauchi gave up their council seats to run for mayor; Henderson and Medina will continue to serve on the council until 2019.

Gardena has been without a mayor since the resignation last year of Paul Tanaka, who held the post for 11 years. In his capacity as former undersheriff of Los Angeles County, he was convicted and sentenced for interfering with a federal investigation of inmate abuse in the county jails. The council opted to wait for the next election instead of holding a special election or appointing an interim mayor.

J. Ingrid Tsukiyama

City Treasurer J. Ingrid Tsukiyama was easily re-elected with 2,949 votes (66.84 percent) to challenger Kathleen “Suzy” Evans’ 1,463 (33.16 percent). City Clerk Mina Semenza ran unopposed and received 3,989 votes.

In other Los Angeles County municipal races:

Monterey Park City Councilmembers Hans Liang and Peter Chan were re-elected with 1,777 votes (27.98 percent) and 1,512 votes (23.81 percent), respectively. Mechanical engineer Margaret Leung, who had the endorsement of Mayor Mitchell Ing, fell short with 1,228 (19.34 percent). Also running were government affairs coordinator Randall Avila (1,016, 16.00 percent), administrative assistant Anthony Felix Jr. (545, 8.58 percent), and handyman Joe Ray Avila (272, 4.28 percent).

Including Stephen Lam, four of the five council members are Chinese Americans.

City Clerk Vincent Dionicio Chang ran unopposed for re-election and received 2,611 votes.

In Palos Verdes Estates, Planning Commissioner Kenneth Kao was elected to the City Council with 1,807 votes (39.66 percent) along with Palos Verdes Library District Trustee Sanford Davidson (1,610, 35.34 percent). Incumbent Jim Goodhart (1,139, 25.00 percent) lost his bid for re-election.

In the San Gabriel City Council election, the winners were incumbent Jason Pu (1,295, 18.44 percent), incumbent Chin Ho Liao (1,192, 16.97 percent) and businessman Mario Delatorre (1,185, 16.87 percent). Also running were business owner Denise Menchaca (1,132, 16.12 percent), businessman Scott Bowles (985, 14.03 percent), Water District director Eric Chan (797, 11.35 percent), and educator A.J. Faure (437, 6.22 percent).

Office manager Thu “Julie” Nguyen won a three-way race for city clerk with 1,046 votes (41.72 percent). Also running were attorney/business owner Florencia Albert (917, 36.58 percent) and community volunteer Mary Acuña Garcia (544, 21.70 percent). Nguyen will succeed City Clerk Eleanor K. Andrews.

As predicted, voter turnout for the municipal elections was low as there were no candidates for statewide office or Congress on the ballot. Unofficial figures released Wednesday put the figure at 11.29 percent countywide.

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