Although voting has been slow in the Eastern San Fernando Valley special election for a Los Angeles City Council seat, some who turned out had clear motivations.
Cesar Guillermo, 55, arrived at the Panorama Recreation Center to cast his vote for former Los Angeles school board member Nury Martinez. He said although Martinez and her opponent Cindy Montañez might appear to share similar backgrounds, he felt Martinez was stronger.
"I read all of their resumes and I think one stands out over the other," he said.
Guillermo said that the issue of child abuse in the Los Angeles Unified School District drew him to the polls. With his 9-year-old son accompanying him, Guillermo said he wants to make sure his child is protected while he's learning. Martinez's recent revelation that she was abused as a child convinced Guillermo that she will fight for the safety of all children. The disclosure was prompted by a campaign mailer in which Montañez complained that the school board did not do enough to protect children during a recent abuse scandal.
"I didn't look at the negative [ads]," he said. "This is important and she's the right candidate."
Panorama turned out to be the wrong precinct for Guillermo, so he was headed to the correct one when he spoke to a reporter.
Voter John Clement, 58, said his family felt hounded by the two candidates. Both Martinez and Montañez sent representatives to his home to persuade them to cast their ballot for them. In the end, he said he chose to vote for Martinez.
"We like the fact that she was a teacher and her overall background," said Clement, as his son, Joshua, 28, nodded in agreement. "And that she was the underdog."
Both father and son said that the allegations of Martinez being soft on child abuse affirmed their decision.
"It's unfortunate that this has become an issue," John Clement said. "If anything that swayed me more toward her."
But voters like Alfred Curtis said they went to the polls on Tuesday not because of any issue or candidates, but because it was their civic duty. Curtis, 59, said he had followed the special election campaign and tried too look for differences in the two candidates but found they were equally qualified.
"It was a real toss up," he said. "They spent a lot of money and campaigned all year. They are both great candidates, which is a good thing."
He said he felt comfortable with whoever won the election. But ultimately he had to choose. He voted for Montañez.
So did Sandra Jimenez, 27, who came out to Panorama Recreation Center along with two of her friends to also support Montañez.
"She has the experience. She was the youngest in the Senate and now she's ready to take on our city,” Jimenez said. “She will bring change to our city."
Jimenez said she had attended numerous in-home chats with Montañez. During those candid conversations she learned of Montañez's upbringing and qualifications.
"She took the time to go into people's homes and get to know the community better," she said. "I wish Nury would've done that."
Jimenez said whichever candidate wins will have "a big challenge" as the only female member of the 15-member Council.
"Cindy is ready," she said. "It's not the first time she has been in this position."