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The People’s Choice

We asked readers who they thought was the most powerful person in Southern California. More than 1,000 votes streamed in, and the winner was . . . Paul Rusnak.

Paul who?

The chairman and chief executive of Pasadena-based Rusnak Auto Group, which has dealerships throughout the region, received about 300 votes--mostly from his employees. But before we could accuse Rusnak of stuffing the ballot box, his daughter fessed up.

Liz Rusnak Arizmendi, who handles the company’s PR, explained that her father “had no idea” that she was encouraging employees to vote for him. She said her aim was simply to honor her dad and his 40 years in business. “You drive around L.A. and see Rusnak license plates,” she said. “He has a mark on L.A.”

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Runners-up included Howson Fong, a Birmingham High history teacher, with 157 votes (and clearly lots of students angling for A’s); Daniel L. Hernandez, president of the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Boyle Heights with 82; and Eli Broad with 68. After that came Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (50) and Steve Robbins of Glendale-based Robbins Bros. jewelers (25), who topped Gov. Schwarzenegger (18) and Cardinal Roger Mahony (8).

Scores of other names--many of which are on The West 100--stemmed from the worlds of business, media and Hollywood. And then, let’s not forget about the four votes for Mickey Mouse, the two for Paris Hilton and the one for Tom Cruise.


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