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Welcome to Cudahy -- unless you're running for office

July 28, 2008 |  9:34 am

Not_running_scared Wan to run for City Council in Cudahy? Then get ready to run for your life. Scare tactics against two men who declared their candidacy in this small but densely-packed suburb in southeast L.A. County included telephoned death threats and Molotov cocktails. Sam Quinones has the details:

When Luis Garcia first ran for Cudahy City Council in 2007, vandals spray painted his white Dodge Dakota. His friend and fellow candidate Tony Mendoza later dropped out of the race after receiving death threats on his answering machine.

Garcia and another novice candidate, Daniel Cota, continued, campaigning to combat gangs and lure more businesses to the tiny Latino suburb southeast of Los Angeles. They lost by a few dozen votes.

Earlier this month, Cota and Garcia launched a website announcing their intention to run for City Council again next year.

On Thursday night, while Garcia was watching TV in his living room, he heard breaking glass, looked outside and saw his Dodge Dakota engulfed in flames; someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at it.

The incident marked the sixth time since the 2007 election that he had been the target of vandalism, Garcia said. His truck has been hit with paint four times in the last 20 months, according to police reports. Two weeks ago, someone threw a brick through his living room window.

Garcia (in the photo, seated next to his torched truck) is certain the attacks stem from his plan to run for office. A 2007 story in the L.A. Weekly does little to dispel the theory. The rest of Sam's story about the Cudahy candidates is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times