A year ago, the city of Vernon was on the verge of being disincorporated as a result of years of corrupt practices. It managed to survive only after committing to government reforms, cutting excessive salaries of public officials, and agreeing to conduct fair elections.
The recent election in this industrial city, home to 1,800 businesses with a workforce of 40,000 but fewer than 100 residents, was sadly marred by apparent irregularities. After pressure from the local chamber of commerce, it was found that six voters did not live in the city, and another four ballots were voided due to signature problems. Of the 53 votes cast, eight were rejected, and finally, for the first time in years, a new representative won a seat on the city council.
Fortunately, the oversight of local institutions worked to correct the problems, but what is truly alarming is that this attempted fraud even occurred after years of scandalous revelations about abusive former officials.
It is disheartening to see that in Vernon there are still signs of that arrogance of power that allowed a mayor to govern for 50 years and various officials to use the public treasury as their personal bank account.
When State Assembly Speaker John Perez proposed the dissolution of the city last year, city authorities launched an intense campaign to avoid it and promised to stay clean in the future. Salaries were cut and term limits supported.
We hope what happened in this election will also spark immediate measures to prevent this shameful situation from recurring. Otherwise, it will be hard to continue supporting an independent future for the city of Vernon.