RAFU STAFF REPORT
CERRITOS — Seven candidates competed for two seats on the Cerritos City Council on April 12, and an incumbent came out on top.
Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama had the most votes, 3,737. He was first elected in 2017 and his new term expires in 2026.
Lynda Johnson, a sheriff’s field deputy, was in second place with 3,475 votes. Her term also expires in 2026.
Johnson is the council’s first Filipina American member. Yokoyama is the son of a Japanese American father and Filipina American mother. Four members of the council are of Asian descent.
Also running were businesswoman Jennifer Hong (3,072 votes), attorney Ernie Nishii (2,832), businessman Sam Desai (862), financial educator/businessman Rocky Pavone (635), and small business owner Patricia Murray (467).
The other members of the City Council are Mayor Chuong Vo, Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Barrows, and Councilmember Naresh Solanki. Their terms expire in 2024.
Six charter amendment measures were also on the ballot.
Out of a total of 36,079 registered voters, only 8,932 or 24.76 percent cast ballots.
In addition to English, the Official Sample Ballot and Voter Information Guide were available in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
Yokoyama’s candidate statement: “With my wife Wendy Sung-Hee Ha, our children Makenna and Maddox, and my parents Thomas and Francisca Yokoyama, I’ve been blessed to serve the residents of Cerritos as your Cerritos councilmember since my election in 2017. I provided bipartisan leadership that is transparent, ethical and fiscally responsible. I represented all residents while opposing extremist politics and favors to special interest groups.
“I’ve lived in Cerritos since 1976. I graduated from Harvard Law School and UC Berkeley Business School. I’m a Cerritos attorney, real estate broker, and youth sports coach.
“My top priority has been keeping Cerritos safe. I brought 4,591 new LED technology streetlights to Cerritos. Since 2020 to the present, I’ve brought free COVID-19 testing to Cerritos High School every week for the health and safety of our community.
“I’m proud that residential burglaries declined during my service as your Cerritos councilmember.
“I provided tough fiscal leadership and approved city balanced budgets five years in a row. I approved funding of our Cerritos Sheriff’s Station and to fix our streets, sidewalks, trees and parks.
“Please feel free to call, text or email me. I’d be honored to have your vote for my re-election.”
After the election, Yokoyama told Asian Journal, “It’s pretty cool that I’m still the top vote-getter. I’ve worked hard for the Cerritos residents. I’m proud to represent Cerritos and the region with the Southern California Association of City Governments.”
He also thanked outgoing mayor Grace Hu for mentoring him.
Former mayor Mark Pulido posted on Facebook, “Last night (April 27) I attended the oath of office ceremony for Cerritos Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama, who was the top vote-getter in the April 12, 2022 municipal election and re-elected for his second term on the Cerritos City Council. I am very proud of my brother.
“Congratulations to Frank, his wife Wendy, their children, and the entire Yokoyama family. I especially want to thank Frank’s parents, Tom and Chit Yokoyama, who I respect tremendously and am grateful to for all of their support of me and my family over the many years. May God bless the Yokoyama family always!”
Nishii’s candidate statement: “My name is Ernie Nishii and I am a candidate for Cerritos City Council. My wife, Young Choi, and I raised our daughter here for 18 years. We love this city.
“Cerritos is a great city with great resources and community. Through the pandemic we did well, but we can do better. I have the experience as an active community member, ABC School Board member (former president), and attorney to provide services to better serve our community while ensuring a balanced budget.
“Safety: We have nothing if we aren’t safe. Neighborhood Watch and our sheriff must work closer together to keep us safe from criminals.
“Schools: Our schools are community centers for all residents. City and schools working together will improve our community and our future.
“Sustainability: Residents, especially vulnerable residents, need reliable and affordable electricity, healthy neighborhood trees, and clean, maintained sidewalks and streets. Low-cost. Sustainable programs improve our community.
“Seniors: Enabling active senior services to enhance independent life is key to a better Cerritos. Within budget, the city can enable senior picnics, performing arts, and solar.
“Together, we can do this.”
Nishii posted the following message after the election: “Thank you to amazing people with amazing vision for our future. I was and am privileged to work with some of the best in our city — people who love our city so much they dedicated precious resources of Time, Talent, & Treasure. No regrets. All of the candidates will serve Cerritos and the voters have spoken and chosen well. Mr. Yokoyama and Ms. Johnson — congrats! We will do our part to support making Cerritos better.
“Some things I wonder about:
“1. What if we had a museum dedicated to OUR history — artifacts and testimony from the people who saw Dairy Valley. To move into the future, you need to know the past. So many residents have been here since the beginning. We could involve them…
“2. What if we had a Youth Commission? Or someone in their 20s on the Let Freedom Ring Committee?
“3. Can we have a nice walkway from our performing arts center to our Town Center restaurants — lined with art kiosks or music buskers or … (you name it). This way we intentionally get a financial benefit.
“4. Could we revive the Music Festival for kids at Cerritos Performing Arts? How about a resident theatre troupe? Could we have a CCPA commission?
“5. Could we ‘energize’ our residents with solar? Could we have a community garden like so many other affluent areas?
“6. Could we have a community center dedicated to the diversity of our city? (Not built or owned by the city.) Could the schools participate in that vision?
“7. How about a high-tech corridor in the northeast part of our city? A friend of mine had a small, high-tech factory here in Cerritos because it was close to other creative minds. The Chamber could include our small manufacturing base — provide informational services. Right now the Chamber is all services.
“8. Wheelchair ramps?
“9. The plan to cut trees and fix streets sustainably within the next five years. Please.”
Nishii continues to serve on the board of the ABC Unified School District, which includes schools in Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood and Norwalk.