Two Fil-Ams vying for Cerritos City Council


CERRITOS – Two Filipino-Americans are vying for the City Council of Cerritos in the March 5 local election.

Current City Planning Commissioner Frank Aurelio Yokoyama and retired Social Worker Alejandro Estella are running for the first time, to fill two open slots. Other candidates include re-electionist Carol Chen, ABC School Board Member James Kang, businessman George Ray, retired police officer K.Y. Ma and homemaker Gerad Valencia.

The 44-year-old Yokayama’s parents are Francisca “Chit” Yokoyama originally from Subic, Zambales and Tom Yokoyama from Sacramento, California who served in the US Army in the 1960s. The family moved to Cerritos in 1976. Frank was born at Fort Benning, Georgia and attended public schools at the ABC Unified School District.

After finishing high school at Whitney High, he went to UC Berkeley for his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Thereafter, he graduated from Harvard Law School. He came back to Cerritos with his wife the former Wendy Ha, a Korean-American to raise their two children

Frank A. Yokoyama is endorsed by US Congressman Alan Lowenthal, Cerritos Councilmember Mark Pulido, former Mayor Laura Lee, ABC School Board members Lynda Johnson, Armin Reyes and Olympia Chen, ABC School Board President Celia Spitzer, Cerritos College Trustee Dr. Tino Cho, Los Angeles County Firefighters, Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club, California State Assembly Cristina Garcia, Artesia Councilmember and former Mayor Victor Manalo, former State Assemblyman Tony Mendoza and former ABC School Board President Cecy Groom as well as several current and former City commissions and committee members.

Yokoyama is also endorsed by the 2012 Pulitzer Prize candidate Los Cerritos Community News. In its endorsement statement, the weekly paper said, “Yokoyama will bring a new sea of change at Cerritos City Hall, one that has been needed for quite some time. Yokoyama is a firebrand member of the Cerritos Planning Commission who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo or to ask tough questions. Yokoyama’s addition to the Cerritos City Council will ensure a dramatic change on how business is conducted in the city hall.”

Yokoyama is a lawyer, businessman and realtor who runs the family realty business in Cerritos. As a Cerritos Planning Commissioner, Frank, together with his colleagues in the City Planning Commission, reviews and approves plans for new businesses and home improvements “to strengthen the local economy and increase property values for Cerritos residents. As a homegrown Cerritos resident, Frank also coaches basketball and soccer youth teams and active in the PTA and school foundations.

In his campaign flyers, Yokoyama stated that he is running for the City Council “to ensure Cerritos remains a safe and vibrant place for our families.” He has a four-point platforms: “with public safety as his number one priority protecting homes and families putting a stop to home burglaries; reinvest in infrastructures where streets, sidewalks, walls and city trees are maintained; preserving critical services and programs like public safety, senior services and youth programs opposing fee increases on sports programs; and espouse fiscal responsibility to secure the future of Cerritos in the post-redevelopment era.”

In his letter to Cerritos residents, Congressman Lowenthal wrote, “Frank Yokoyama will make sure our city focuses on the safety and livability of our neighborhoods while maintaining the world-class city services we’ve all come to expect.”

Alejandro Estella

Relatively unknown candidate is Alejandro Estella, a 66-year-old retired US Navy, former Kaiser Permanente employee and part time social worker of the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services.

A long shot in his bid for the Cerritos Council, Estella’s motto is to “make rounds and check your surroundings, talk to people, listen and act.” He joined the US Navy in 1960 during the Vietnam war and retired after serving 23 years. While working at Kaiser Permanente in the evenings, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach.

In his statement filed with the local registrar’s office, he stated, “I will do my very best to serve for the betterment of our community and its residents. My family and I enjoy living in Cerritos.” He is endorsed by his fellow tennis players in and around the City of Cerritos.

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