GLENDALE – After failing to make it in 2013, a Filipina is once again running for a seat in the Glendale City Council in the upcoming April 2015 city elections.
Edith Fuentes, 64, pointed out that in the 108-year history of Glendale, there has never been a single Asian or Filipino American elected into the City Council.
“I think it’s about time that the City of Glendale has a representation form the Filipino community,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes has been a resident of Glendale for two decades now. A daughter of a US Navy man, Fuentes immigrated to the US in 1975. Her notable career milestones include working for the City of Coral Gables in Florida as its Director of Zoning and Code Enforcement, and as Miami’s Director for Building and Zoning. In 1993, she was hired by the City of Glendale as its Zoning Administrator. She retired in September 2012.
Her almost two decades’ worth of experience in working within Glendale City Hall is one of her key strengths, Fuentes said. As someone who has knowledge of the intricate workings of City Hall, Fuentes said that she can help Glendale residents, particularly small business owners, on navigating through the ins and outs of city hall processes.
During a press conference with Filipino media in Glendale, Fuentes said that her platform includes “four to five priority points.”
Her top priority, Fuentes said, is Public Health, Safety and Welfare. She said that she wants to make sure that the Glendale Fire and Police Departments will be able able to maintain and improve the health, safety, and welfare of the public, through support of the local government.
She also looks to help small businesses thrive in Glendale, and thereby help them continue to become viable sources of livelihood and income for the city.
“What has happened in the past years in Glendale is that we welcomed with open arms large developments and businesses, but we forgot to take care of the small businesses,” Fuentes said.
She wants to make sure that the city develops programs to make it easier for businesses to come in to Glendale and stay in the city.
Fuentes’ platform also include keeping Glendale neighborhoods safe by strengthening and encouraging open communication within the city’s neighborhood watch program. The second-time Filipina candidate also looks to develop programs for youth engagement, and senior services.
Not a light decision
In a press statement, Fuentes said that it was not easy to make the decision to run again.
“I have not made the decision to run lightly. It is my continuing desire to represent the city that has been my home since 1995,” Fuentes said.
She pointed out that Glendale sits at a crossroads, where the challenges that lie ahead are widespread and problematic.
“We have suffered considerable financial losses in the General Fund, resulting in the loss of staff and cuts to your basic City service levels. A balance must be struck to preserve our quality of life, and [allow us to] operate within our means,” Fuentes said.
In her last campaign, Fuentes noted that Filipinos in Glendale were apathetic towards local elections. Although 4,000 Pinoys have already registered to vote, less than a thousand came out to vote. Had those remaining 3,000 or so voters came out on election day and voted for her, Fuentes said that she could have won the race.
She attributed this apathy to the lack of knowledge on how local governance works. Most people only turn out to vote on national elections, thinking that this will make the biggest difference in their lives in America.
However, Fuentes pointed out that it is the local government, not federal, that people will deal with in their everyday lives.
“For example, if they have an issue with their land titles, or a gas leak, they can’t expect Obama to help them with that, right?” Fuentes rhetorically asked.
Which is why it is also part of her campaign to educate people on the importance of local politics.
“We have to make sure they know we are here,” Fuentes said, “We want them to really practice their right to suffrage.”
For a first time candidate, Fuentes fared considerably well in 2013, when she landed 6th overall among 12 candidates. This time, she believes that she can go all the way.
“Win or win, we’re gonna do it,” Fuentes said.
(LA Midweek September 17-19, 2014 Sec. A pg.1)