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Leon-Vazquez Drops Out of Race for Council Appointment


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January 22, 2019 -- Hours before the City Council votes tonight to fill a vacant seat on the dais, one of the top contenders has dropped out.

Maria Leon-Vazquez, who was one of 76 candidates applying for the seat vacated by her husband, Tony Vazquez, informed the City Clerk Tuesday morning that she was withdrawing her application.

By noon, her application had been removed from the list posted on the City Clerk's website.

Leon-Vazquez was considered one of the three front-runners vying for the seat vacated by her husband after he was elected to the State Board of Equalization.

Those familiar with the Council members' preferences say they would like to appoint a minority to join the six members of the Council, all of whom are white.

The Council -- which is embroiled in a voting rights lawsuit filed by Latino activists from the Pico Neighborhood -- is also said to prefer a candidate who lives in the city's largest minority neighborhood.

Two of the remaining front-runners fit the bill -- Ana M. Jara, a Latina who is vice-chair of the Social Services Commission, and College Board member Barry Snell.

The Council also is said to be weighing the the dearth of women on the Council. There are two women left on the dais after Pam O'Connor lost her bid for a record seventh term.

That would make Jara the favorite in tonight's highly anticipated vote, although it remains unclear if she has the four votes needed from the six current Council members.

If ethnicity and gender are not an issue, the Council has numerous qualified candidates to choose from.

Among the applicants, are two Planning Commissioners, Jason Perry and Richard McKinnon, as well as former commissioner Jennifer Kennedy. The powerful board is viewed as a stepping stone to the Council.

In addition to Snell, two other applicants sit on major boards after having been elected with more than 10,000 votes each -- School Board member Oscar de la Torre and Rent Control Board member Caroline M. Torosis.

De la Torre, a Latino Pico Neighborhood resident, is not considered a contender, since he is viewed as an adversary at City Hall and is a plaintiff in the voting rights lawsuit that could lead to District elections.

The Council has 30 days as of January 8 to fill the seat.

If it fails to make an appointment tonight, it could re-open the application process and vote again on January 29 and, if need be, on February 5.

If no appointment is made, voters will choose a new Councilmember in a special election November 5 to serve until November 2020.

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