After the 2016 election, California Republicans were discouraged.
We have gotten dispersed, set aside if you will.
Can Republicans in blue states make a difference? Is it a lost cause?
California Republicans will turn into the Hawaii GOP or the Rhode Island GOP if we don’t take drastic measures. Not going with the flow, but standing against the current is the only way. I had written in a previous piece about the need for audacity. If Republicans stop being weak-kneed, but articulate a clear message with fighting spirit, then they can win anywhere.
I found one audacious Republican, and in the most unlikely of places: Jack Guerrero, councilman for the city of Cudahy. This little-known working-class community he represents is one square mile, but how it manages to contain so much drama is beyond me.
Another Southeast city much like Bell, Cudahy has become embroiled in numerous scandals. As recently as 2011, one councilman voted to change a city ordinance and allow a shorter turnaround time for city councilmembers to take on another civil service positions. Within days, Perez became the highly paid city manager. And he managed the city like a mafia boss.
Commissioners who did not vote his way, whether on planning or public safety, would get a pink slip in the mail. One commissioner drove to city hall, confronted him with the discharge notice, then ripped it up in his face. Other residents complained about the incessant roadblocks to construction on their property or businesses. Unless you knew a guy, your project was going nowhere. That’s corruption at its core.
In 2012-2013, two of Cudahy’s city councilmembers were tried, arrested, and convicted on bribery and public corruption charges. Then three young politicos ran for city council in 2013 and won. They were the reformers: Chris Garcia, Baru Sanchez, and Jack Guerrero. Guerrero was the lone Republican, and attack mailers smeared him with a stereotyped black “Republican” stamp on his pictured forehead. The smear failed, and he won. In a matter of months though, his two reform colleagues would cave and join the corrupt dark side of Cudahy politics.
The same corruption game has played out for the last four years. Garcia had run on a platform against corruption. Today, he takes big campaign money from private vendors and friends, who in turn receive lavish, extravagant contracts. Add to that an embarrassingly high salary and insurance package for the current city manager Jose Pulido, who himself has been fired from Temple City (and after receiving a $10,000 bonus!).
Cudahy contracts now include evergreen clauses, meaning that any agreement receives automatic renewal unless the city council acts to delay or end renewal. Shouldn’t city services require vetting from term to term? Not in Cudahy, according to the corrupt city council majority.
For the past four years, Guerrero has been the lone voice exposing this rampant fiscal mismanagement and pay-for-play among his corrupt colleagues. While most councilmen strive for comity and congeniality at all costs, Guerrero routinely challenges the lies, distortions, and misstatements of his peers. After all, elected officials serve their constituents. Their goal is not to arbitrarily get along with the other councilmembers and play nice.
That’s the kind of audacity we need to see in our local and state governments.
And it’s not as though Cudahy’s mismanagement and Guerrero’s exposure has fallen on deaf ears. The California state controller issued a scathing report against this little city for its massive financial woes. Internal controls to minimize budgetary waste and fraud have failed miserably. This indictment hit the evening news! To make matters worse, the near-bankrupt municipality was ordered to pay back millions of dollars that the city coffers simply could not cough up. Instead of fixing the problem, Chris Garcia and his corrupt crew have routinely silenced dissent in city council chambers, from Guerrero as well as concerned citizens, many of whom had supported Garcia and company before.
But how did I get started in Cudahy? I had arrived to protest the sanctuary city, a cynical ploy by Garcia to buy influence and cover up for their misdeeds. He got a little positive press for the move, but nothing more.
At our first meeting there, We the People Rising called out the corruption they visited on their working class residents. We tackled the sanctuary city issue briefly. Eventually, other members of the community rose up and shouted down the city council. Chris Garcia fled the chambers (but not before mocking me.)
We filed formal complaints against the city for violating our freedom of speech. The Los Angeles County District Attorney agreed with us! Another win for basic freedoms against corruption. A second time, Garcia criticized his opponents as “white supremacists”—even though our team includes Hispanic and African-Americans members. Fox News picked up on that offensive rant.
These little Cudahy councilmembers are incompetent entitled children, yet they have advertised themselves as the new and vibrant future of a struggling working-class community that is 99 percent Latino. Now they are merely exposing themselves as the same old corrupt cabal, but this time with only baby faces.
But Guerrero is not afraid to fight back. He fights against corruption. He fights for the rule of law. And he is not afraid to tell his constituents that he is a Republican, even though the city is 88 percent Democratic.
His opponents used every dirty trick in the book to shut down his re-election chances. They played the Trump card very hard throughout the three month election cycle. Jack’s supporters have worried that his Republican credentials would drag down his chances. On election night, Guerrero was the top vote getter.
In the bluest city of the bluest county in one of the bluest states in the union, a conservative Republican, outspoken about his mission of service, won! If that’s not audacious, I don’t know what is.
Republicans have no excuse. It’s time to put up and fight—and win!