Secession, Gender Take Center Stage in Race


In its most extensive foray into a local election, the group promoting San Fernando Valley secession Monday gave City Council candidate Corinne Sanchez an “A” on the issue, but just a “C” for co-front-runner Alex Padilla.

The only two of six candidates to get Valley VOTE’s “A” grade were Sanchez and Ollie McCaulley, both of whom said they support Valley cityhood provided it doesn’t hurt any part of Los Angeles or require higher taxes.

In filling out a Valley VOTE questionnaire, Padilla declined to state whether he supports creating a separate city in the Valley, saying it is impossible to tell before a major study of the financial impact is completed.


Sanchez and McCaulley welcomed the support, while Padilla maintained the low grade didn’t bother him because voters are not clamoring for secession.

“That’s not a concern for me,” said Padilla, who has been endorsed by Mayor Richard Riordan, a staunch foe of secession. “Growing up, in school and college, I didn’t get straight A’s, so this doesn’t surprise me.”

Valley VOTE, which pushed legislation that stripped the council of its veto over secession and gathered 130,000 signatures in support of a study, said candidates have clear positions.

“If people are concerned about getting their fair share of services for the northeast Valley and making sure the public has a right to vote for Valley secession, the two best people are Sanchez and McCaulley,” said Richard Close, the chairman of Valley VOTE. “Those two people will accomplish that.”

Barbara Perkins, a candidate who received a “C” grade, questioned whether Valley VOTE had stepped beyond its publicly stated mission of getting a secession study done and appears now to be advocating the breakup of Los Angeles.

“If that’s Valley VOTE’s mission, to support secession, then it is disingenuous for them to say they are getting people to sign the petition only so there can be a study,” said Perkins, a former Valley VOTE board member who quit because she felt the group was advocating secession.

Padilla said it is too early to make such a commitment to secession, without seeing what the study concludes.

Although a survey by the Sanchez campaign found 60% of voters support Valley cityhood, Padilla said he is not worried that the report card will harm his candidacy. In contrast, Sanchez and McCaulley said the good grades from Valley VOTE will help their campaigns.

“It’s a very good thing because we’re finding that people in the northeast San Fernando Valley are interested in secession,” Sanchez said.

Among the other candidates in the race, Valley VOTE gave Raul Godinez II a “B.” He also declined to say whether he would vote for Valley cityhood if the study is favorable. Tony Lopez received a grade of “C.”

Valley VOTE President Jeff Brain said the conclusions were based on a questionnaire the group circulated and separate research.

Brain said Padilla was given a “C” not just because of his answers but also because of his backing by anti-secessionists including Riordan.

The report card is based largely on answers to five questions. All but Lopez agreed the northeast Valley does not get its fair share of services.

Asked if they support the study of Valley cityhood, all six candidates said “yes.”

All but Perkins said they support the city and county funding a portion of the study. Perkins declined to state her position, Brain said.

All but Perkins also said that if the study is favorable, they would put the secession issue on the ballot. Perkins declined to state her position.

The last question asked was: “If the LAFCO study is favorable--no increases in taxes, no financial harm to the remainder of the city of Los Angeles, fair representation for all interests and areas of the SFV--would you personally vote yes for the Valley to become a separate city?”

Sanchez, McCaulley and Lopez answered “yes” while the others declined to state a position.

As a tax-exempt organization, Valley VOTE cannot endorse in the council race, but Close said he and other leaders may take positions later as individuals, based on the report card.