Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 8, 2018


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Sauceda, Hunter, Cho, Perez Win Los Angeles Superior Court Seats

High-Spenders Lose in Three of Four Contests


By a MetNews Staff Writer



In three of the four Los Angeles Superior Court contests on Tuesday’s ballot, the candidate whose committee spent less than that of the rival prevailed, although the judicial contender whose committee spent the most in the general election, Deputy District Attorney Tony Cho, did win over his opponent, Deputy Public Defender Holly Hancock.

The spending amounts, along with the semi-official tally of votes, appear in the box at the right. The figures take into account all late contributions reported through election day.

There was no fingernail-biting through the night this year as returns came in. From the earliest reports, which reflected more than 10 percent of the ballots cast, it was clear, by virtue of the margins, who the winners were.

Money Didn’t Speak

Deputy District Attorney Alfred Coletta lost to Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner A. Verónica Sauceda despite his committee spending nearly seven times the amount her committee paid out. And Redondo Beach Senior Deputy City Prosecutor Sydne Michel drew fewer votes than Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Patricia Hunter although Michel’s campaign’s financial statement shows well over seven times the spending by her adversary’s camp.

Real estate broker Michael Ribons’s committee expended nearly twice the amount that “Javier Perez for Judge 2018” disbursed in support of the deputy district attorney’s campaign effort, yet Ribons lost, and by the greatest margin of any of the eight contenders in the run-off elections. Perez—having the advantages of an Hispanic name and the title of “Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles”—won by nearly 68 percent of the vote.

Ribons also had the detriment of a single word as his ballot designation—“Lawyer”—after a judge granted a writ petition, ordering that the word “Arbitrator” be excised because the candidate only occasionally serves in that capacity on a volunteer basis.

Ballot Designation Disputes

In another writ proceeding, Hunter was barred from using the word “Prosecutor” in her ballot designation because it is not part of her actual job title, which is required under legislation that was effective Jan. 1. She also lost her bid to bar Michel from using that same word because, in Redondo Beach, there is an Office of City Prosecutor.

While losing the court battle, Hunter, at the polls, won the war, with speculation centering on “City of Los Angeles” in her ballot designation attracting votes from denizens of the county’s largest city and the name “Sydne” striking some voters as being that of a man.

Female and Hispanic names are currently in favor with voters, and Sauceda had both, trumping Coletta’s ballot designation, which was the same as Perez’s.

Times’s Endorsements Rebuffed

Coletta, Michel, and Ribons, aside from having higher finances, also had, to no avail, the benefit of an endorsement by the Los Angeles Times. The Times also called for the election of Hancock.

(The MetNews, too, endorsed Coletta and Michel but supported Cho over Hancock and Perez over Ribons.)

Los Angeles County Bar Association ratings, once influential, have drawn scant attention over the past few election years and were not even reported in the press this year—in contrast to times when print and electronic journalists attended news conferences at which the evaluations were announced.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey made no endorsements in judicial races this year, in contrast to her predecessor, Steve Cooley, who left office in 2012 and, during his three terms as the county’s top prosecutor, did boost candidacies through endorsements.

Cho said yesterday:

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the voters of Los Angeles County.  I am humbled and honored by the support that I have received throughout my campaign.

“I am grateful to have had the honor of serving the public for the past 13 years as a deputy district attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and I look forward to continuing my service to the community as a Superior Court judge.”

Coletta declared:

“I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the political process. Congratulations to my opponent. We both waged excellent campaigns. I wish to thank all those who supported my candidacy from the very beginning of the campaign.

“I will continue advocating for justice in Los Angeles County.”

Michel remarked:

“It has been a long and difficult campaign, but I am thankful to the many wonderful people I met who supported and believed in me.

“I congratulated my opponent and wish her well. Tomorrow I will be back in court doing the job I love, as an advocate for public safety and justice.”

Cooley had this to say:

“Sydne Michel was an incredibly qualified judicial candidate. Her campaign was well funded, Sydne worked hard, and she received many important endorsements.

“All that being said, the margin of her defeat was stunning. The makeup of the low voter turnout seems to me to be the key to her defeat and was no doubt a factor in other countywide races.”


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