Compton’s First Latino Councilman Inspired Pride, Now Draws Concern

Abby Sewell and Angel Jennings, Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2013

On a scorching July afternoon, Compton residents gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the city’s first Latino councilman. A nine-piece mariachi band played and families cheered at the event many had been awaiting for decades.

But just a few weeks into Isaac Galvan’s term, some are already having misgivings about the councilman.

Galvan, 26, has failed to file any of the required campaign finance disclosures for the primary and runoff elections. As his first official action, he hired an aide with criminal convictions for political misconduct. And he has declined to answer detailed questions about his residency in the city.

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Latino activists have been working for years to break into city politics. Even though demographics have shifted over 20 years from majority black to nearly two-thirds Latino, African Americans maintained a hold on the Compton’s power structure—until the election of Galvan.

Although Galvan was a new face to many in Compton, some in neighboring southeast L.A. County cities recognized him as a protege of his campaign manager, Angel Gonzalez, a printer and onetime political operative for former South Gate Treasurer Albert Robles, who is serving time in federal prison for his part in a wide-ranging bribery scheme.

Galvan met Gonzalez through the Boyle Heights branch of the Victory Outreach evangelical church and later worked for Gonzalez’s printing and political consulting business. Immediately after taking office, Galvan hired Gonzalez to a $47,500 city job as his community liaison.

“My knowledge of Angel Gonzalez is all bad. His history in South Gate talks for itself,” said longtime South Gate Councilman Henry Gonzalez. “I would question whether or not he’s still got those bad habits.”

In 2002, Angel Gonzalez was convicted of a felony conspiracy charge—reduced to a misdemeanor at his sentencing—for sending out attack mailers with copies of fake official documents. In a separate case, he was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of sending out misleading campaign fliers.

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Galvan gave the job to Gonzalez after initially proposing to hire Richard Mayer, another familiar face in southeast politics with a checkered past. Mayer was convicted of felony perjury in 2001 for lying about his address so that he could run for a South Gate City Council seat.

Galvan said Mayer was not involved in his campaign.

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When questioned about the missing forms in early July, Galvan said he had filed them “yesterday.” He also said he would provide a copy to The Times, but never did. On Thursday, he told The Times that his treasurer was “in the process of filing” and that he did not know how much he had spent on the campaign.

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