THE REGION : Mayors Fail Again to Fill AQMD Board Seat

Although the San Gabriel Valley has some of the most severe air pollution in the nation, its mayors recently were unable for the 15th time to elect a representative to the Southland's air quality board.

The valley's cities, as well as 32 others that ring Los Angeles, have been without representation on the Southern California Air Quality Management District board since February.

In the latest vote, Pomona Councilwoman Nell Soto again fell short of the two-thirds of 63 cities, with at least 2.3 million combined population needed for victory. Soto received 60% of the vote, but La Canada's Joan Feehan continued to receive the support of enough cities to block Soto's election.

In a move to break the deadlock, Monrovia Mayor Bob Bartlett, president of the California League of Cities, nominated Monrovia Councilwoman Lara Blakely as "a consensus candidate."

After much argument, the mayors allowed Blakely to enter the race, but several Soto supporters, including Long Beach Mayor Ernie Kell, walked out.

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