New Bell City Council sworn in amid promises to rebound from corruption scandal
The new members were sworn in by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) amid resounding applause by several hundred people and promises of a brighter future in the small blue-collar city.
The five council members represent a diverse cross-section of the community and include a retired baker, an attorney and the city's first Lebanese American elected official. They are are Violeta Alvarez, Danny Harber, Ali Saleh, Ana-Maria Quintana and Nestor Valencia.
The new council, which is scheduled to meet Monday, will have to quickly grapple with tough budget-cutting decisions. The city is facing a projected $3.5-million to $4.5-million deficit by the end of the fiscal year in June.
"The quicker we get going," Harber told the audience, "the better off we're going to be."
The previous council was swept out of office by voters in the March election in the wake of a corruption scandal and community outrage sparked by a Times investigation of unusually high salaries of ousted city officials.
In all, eight former top officials have been charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with corruption, mostly related to efforts to conceal their salaries
--Tony Barboza at Bell City Hall
Photo: Newly sworn-in Bell City council members (from left) Ali Saleh, Nestor Enrique Valencia, Violeta Alvarez, Danny Harber and Ana Maria Quintana after the ceremony in Bell. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times