By Augustine Ugalde Jr.
Throwing herself directly into the maelstrom caused by the Bell scandal, current Elan Imelda Serrano hopes to become one of the city’s newest council members.
Serrano, 29, is on the March 8 ballot that will decide the five seats left vacant as a result of gross improprieties conducted by the former administration.
According to the 18-year resident of the city, she has decided to run for a council seat, in what is sure to become one of the most widely viewed local elections in years, for various reasons.
“What happened in my city was shameful,” said Serrano.
“I want to bring Bell back to a positive outlook and start a legacy for myself. I want to make a difference,” said Serrano.
In all there are 17 candidates running for election with 10 candidates vying for three, four-year positions and seven running for two, two-year spots.
“All five council positions are open and will be filled from the vote on March 8th,” said Serrano. “I am running for one of the three four-year positions against 10 other candidates.”
“Most of us are political newcomers, so I feel I have as good a chance as any to take one of these spots,” said Serrano.
Only two of the 17 candidates have run for election in the past and one other candidate was actually on the city council, but was not involved in the scandal.
Serrano credits her undying devotion and love for her family, god and community as her motivation and strength to run for election.
“All I can do is stay true to myself – to stay true to who I am. People can judge me if they want, but if I do my job the way I was brought up, I’ll be o.k.”
“I have nothing to hide. I’m a student, a mother of two and my main goal is to my family,” said Serrano.
“I have a great faith in god and I want to make my city what it was when I was a kid for my children. I want to bring more city sponsored activities for the children of Bell,” said Serrano.
Serrano’s platform is focused on rebuilding the city’s foundation for a transparent democracy and to re-establish public trust.
She also wants to prioritize public safety within the city’s economic constraints and to maintain current senior and youth community programs.
“One of the first things I want to look at if I’m elected is the police department salaries,” said Serrano. “The Bell PD account for over 60 percent of the city’s budget and must be looked at,” said Serrano.
The Los Angeles Times broke the controversy in July of last year while investigating possible malfeasance in Maywood.
The report revealed that city officials were earning disproportionately large salaries that ranked as the highest in the country.
The controversy soon gained momentum as further investigations showed that Bell home-owners were paying unusually high property taxes followed by allegations of voter fraud, which eventually lead to the resignation of key city officials.
“It is time to move forward and not look back,” said Serrano. “My parents live here, I’m raising my children here and my family lives here. I want to return it to what I remember it to be,” said Serrano.
Serrano has earned her associate’s degree in Business Administration, Finance and Accounting from East Los Angeles College and plans to transfer to Cal State Los Angeles next fall.
The 2000 graduate of Bell High School and after vowing never to attend a community college enrolled at Cal State L.A. and actually worked for Bell briefly in 2001.
“I was laid-off after about six-months because of a conflict with my school schedule,” said Serrano. “I think that was just an excuse to fire me though. I think I was let go because I wasn’t in the ‘in’ group.”
“This is part of my motivation to come back as a council member,” said Serrano.
Her attitude about attending a community college has changed since her years immediately following her graduation from Bell.
“I like it here. The people are very friendly and I am very proud to say that I go to ELAC,” said Serrano.