Top 25 California Elections 2016: #20 - Carson Mayors Race
20) Carson Mayors Race
What we’re watching?
Carson Mayor Albert “Little Al” Robles is seeking election to two offices in November even though the District Attorney's Office is suing him to force his resignation from one of them. Robles will face off in the Mayor’s race against former Mayor Jim Dear, who was ousted out of the City Clerk’s office in a February recall.
Who we are watching?
Carson Mayoral Race:
- Albert Robles, incumbent Mayor
- Jim Dear, former Mayor and City Clerk
Why we are watching?
Let’s start with Albert Robles. Before winning a seat on the Carson City Council in 2013, Mr. Robles made a name for himself defending small-time politicians accused of corruption. His client roster included former Southgate treasurer Albert T. Robles (no relation but, it should be noted the “Big Al” to his “Little Al”) who is currently serving a ten-year sentence for misappropriating funds. At one time he even made a run for Los Angeles County District Attorney against Steve Cooley. He ultimately lost, but Cooley told the L.A. Times, “In the 160-year history of the Los Angels County D.A.’s office-he’s probably the most unqualified candidate ever.”
Mr. Robles became Carson’s Mayor when the previous office holder (we’ll get to him) vacated the seat last fall. Coincidentally, he has also held on to his office as a representative on the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (the pay is better). In this November’s election, Mr. Robles will seek to win his first election as Mayor AND his seventh consecutive term on the WRDSC. Clearly, this presents the very real potential for a conflict of interest. The District Attorney’s office contends that the two offices are incompatible and he cannot hold the two positions simultaneously. The D.A. has filed suit in civil court to force him out of the WRDSC role.
Mr. Robles obviously cares little for the D.A.’s opinion on the matter and is aggressively fighting the case. “Shame on them for doing this while letting other people get away with real corruption,” Robles told the Daily Breeze. “It is just unfair that the District Attorney’s Office is interjecting themselves into the electoral process like this. Shame on them for personalizing this and selectively coming after me when there are real criminals here in Carson.” To further emphasize his point, Robles is also suing the WRDSC for refusing to cover his attorneys’ fees in the court battle!!
It doesn’t end there for “Little Al.” His campaign and personal finances have recently come under scrutiny by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, his place of residency has been questioned (he may actually live in LA), and a former staffer has accused him of sexual harassment. One would think this stew of questionable practices might find Mr. Robles on the outside looking in during the next Mayoral election when, in fact, he’s the favorite!
Who will Robles be facing off with in November’s Mayoral contest? It’s none other than his predecessor, Jim Dear. Dear is a long time presence in City Hall, having been first elected to the council in 2001 before his Mayoral reign from 2004-2015. After eleven years in office, Dear ran for City Clerk against incumbent Donesia Gause and won; he vacated the Mayor’s office for the higher salaried Clerk’s job (the Clerk makes $120,000 vs. the Mayor’s $25,000).
Mr. Dear’s time as City Clerk was nothing short of tumultuous and he faced opposition almost immediately after entering the new office. Dear was accused of racism, discrimination, general mistreatment of employees, and systematic harassment. These accusations led to a restraining order placed against him, the first censure of an elected official in Carson’s history, an internal investigation into his behavior, and ultimately the recall effort that removed him from office last February.
Despite the numerous accusations, including the fact that twenty current and former city hall employees publicly made statements against him, Dear denied any inappropriate behavior and painted the recall as a witch-hunt. “I never harassed anyone at all. They’re just using it for political purposes. There are no employees who are afraid of me,” Dear told the Daily Breeze.
No one celebrated Dear’s ouster more than Mayor Robles. “Jim Dear was a bully and that came out from employees,” Robles said. “Employees are relieved he’s gone. In part, his racism was the problem. But also his mistreatment and disrespect of different constituencies and residents over the last 14 years in office. It is a new day in Carson.” (Daily Breeze)
This all sets up for quite a race for the Mayor’s office. Momentum and public opinion are clearly on Robles’ side at the moment, but not all hope is lost for Mr. Dear. Dear lost the recall by only 669 votes (out of 8,700) and it stands as the only election he has ever lost in Carson. The big question for the ex-Mayor is whether he has simply burned too many of the wrong bridges. While Latinos, Fillipinos, and the white areas showed strong support for Dear, African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of the recall.