Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 10, 2016


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Archuleta, Aceves, Townsend, Nguyen Win Judgeships


By a MetNews Staff Writer



Semi-Official Returns

Office No. 11

Debra R. Archuleta 59.82%

Steven Schreiner 40.18%


Office No. 42

Efrain Matthew Aceves 60.37%

Alicia Molina 39.63%


Office No. 84

Susan Jung Townsend 59.63%

Javier Perez 40.37%


Office No. 158

Kim L. Nguyen 51.63%

David A. Berger 48.37%



Semi-official returns yesterday showed that Deputy District Attorneys Debra R. Archuleta, Efrain Matthew Aceves and Susan Jung Townsend, as well as Deputy Attorney General Kim L. Nguyen, have won election to the Los Angeles Superior Court, with ballot designations and slate mailer advertising appearing to have been significant factors in the outcome.

 The high vote-getter among judicial candidates on Tuesday’s ballot in Los Angeles County was Aceves, who pulled 60.37 percent of the ballots, defeating immigration attorney Alicia Molina. Aceves was listed on the ballot as “Child Molestation Prosecutor,” while his opponent was identified as “Attorney at Law.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel on Sept. 1 caused Molina’s chances of prevailing to wither,  bumping her chosen designation as “Domestic Violence Attorney” which she found to be misleading. Using that designation in the primary, Molina emerged first in a field of four candidates, drawing 33 percent of the vote, with Aceves gaining 30 percent.

Acquiring 59.82 percent of the vote, Archuleta handily defeated rival contender Steven Schreiner, identified on the ballot as “Gang Homicide Prosecutor.” Schreiner stopped campaigning after a judge rejected his renewed bid—which had failed in the primary—to get Archuleta’s designation as “Violent Crimes Prosecutor” barred.

Archuleta was actually in the White Collar Crimes Division, but had held onto one case, involving a violent crime, from a previous assignment.

Townsend bagged 59.63 of the ballots in her race against Deputy District Attorney Javier Perez. Her ballot designation was “Criminal Fraud Prosecutor” and his was “Supervising Criminal Prosecutor.”

The closest race was between Nguyen, who ran as “Deputy Attorney General,” and Deputy District Attorney David Berger, labeled “Violent Crimes Prosecutor.” Nguyen attracted 51.63 percent of the votes.

Nguyen, whose husband works for political consultant Parke Skelton, virtually monpolized the slate mailers.

False Statement

Two of the last-minute slate mailers represented that Nguyen had the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times. In fact, the Times recommended that voters choose Berger.

Political consultant Fred Huebscher, who produced the slate mailers, on Tuesday night took the blame for the error, saying:

“It has come to my attention that my slates (JFK Alliance and Independent Voters League) contained an incorrect statement about Ms. Nguyen—i.e. her endorsement by the LA Times.  Ms Nguyen did not pay for ‘featuring’ on the slate, but I put some in since I had some extra space.  Neither Ms. Nguyen or anyone from her campaign provided any text for her feature.  I am solely responsible for the content of the feature.  I will gladly sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that neither she nor her campaign authorized the text in her feature.  I hope this clears up any misunderstanding about this inadvertent error.”

Skelton declared:

“The Nguyen campaign did not write that text, approve that text or see that text.”

Election Analysis

Huebscher said his only explanation of the closeness of the race, despite Nguyen being on “virtually every slate,” was that “perhaps voters are uncomfortable with Ms. Nguyen’s name or that Berger’s ballot statement was read by many people.” Berger purchased space in the sample ballot, though in recent years that has not proved meaningful in judicial races.

“And I think the LA Times endorsement of Berger helps as well,” Huebscher said.

He attributed Archuleta’s victory to her “Latino surname” and Aceves’s win to his ballot designation.

Huebscher, who was one of Townsend’s consultants, said that her “being on almost all slates was very helpful as well as her being a woman.” He noted that she had a candidate statement which he said “may have helped,” though he generally regards them as being of little value.

Los Angeles County Bar Association ratings, he opined, don’t “amount to a hill of beans,” adding:

“Look at the Berger-Nguyen race. Berger is rated “not qualified” and Nguyen is rated “well qualified” and yet this race is the closest of all the races.”

Too, Archuleta prevailed although LACBA rated her “qualified” and found Schreiner “well qualified.”

The majority of voters disregarded the Times’ advice to cast ballots for Schreiner and Berger.

Townsend said yesterday:

“I attribute the outcome of my lead in seat 84 to the smart and disciplined campaign I ran for 18 months. I started early and reached out to many agencies who I believe voters could turn to for their recommendations. My well-rounded legal experience, accurate ballot designation and well respected endorsements  were all well received because they were anchored in integrity and public confidence required for the position.

Nguyen remarked:

“I believe voters recognized that I was well prepared for this office.  My Well-Qualified rating from the LA County Bar Association was an important factor in letting voters know that I had the experience and temperament to serve as a Superior Court Judge.”


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