Boyle Heights resident Norma Briseno addresses outgoing Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council President, Elvira del Pozo (center) and the rest of the board during the May 22 meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall. Photo by Gus Ugalde

By Gus Ugalde

A concerted outreach effort by the outgoing Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council [BHNC] resulted in a record high voter turnout May 21 at the BHNC election.

The council took to social media and to more traditional outreach methods, such as canvassing, to reach Boyle Heights residents.

“We had a lot of outreach, especially on social media. A number of those registered created a slate and distributed very well throughout the community,” said outgoing Council President, Elvira del Pozo.

A slate is where candidates work to canvas specific community areas, according to Steven Almazan, outreach officer.

“Candidates join together in slates to do outreach. We also used a lot of door-to-door [outreach] going to small businesses in the 1st Street corridor,” said Almazan.

Almazan, a Boyle Heights native who graduated from Salesian High School and USC, arranged an event in May so that the community could engage the candidates about the issues that affect Them.

“[Community members] got a chance to hear each candidate to see where they stand on issues such as affordable housing,” said Almazan.

The board also used Facebook to promote the election along with Twitter and an Eventbrite page for those who do not engage in social media, according to Almazan.

“The new board will be seated at the first General Meeting following the resolution of the challenge,” said Del Pozo.

The voter turnout exceeded the 2014 BHNC election by more than 120 registered voters, which represents an increase of approximately 31 percent.

The projected winners for the four seats are Maia Isabel Ocampo Solano for Area 1, who beat Nicole Martin; Area 3 winner, Margarita Amador, and Ofelia Carrillo in Area 4, who ran unopposed.

In Area 2, Dan Morales and Kimberly Arazo are in a dead-heat with 26 unofficial votes each.

Fanny Ortiz leads both Baldomero Capiz and Johanna Sanchez for the Community Interest Seat and 16 candidates are competing for 14 Community Seats.

Election Officer, Nicole Martin and Outreach Officer Steven Almazan were largely responsible for the increased voter turnout, according to Del Pozo.

Board members are elected to a two-year term.

The final BHNC community meeting was scheduled for May 25, but was cancelled because of a lack of quorum.

The cancelled meeting did give the current board members the opportunity to both thank the residents of Boyle Heights for the past two years, and to address the new board members who were in attendance.

Almazan said he was pleased with the voter turnout and encouraged the new board to “continue to bring in new faces to meetings.”

“Congratulations and get ready for what comes next. It is not an easy task to be a board member, but a lot of good things come from it too,” said Vice President, Rafael Chayoga.

The next scheduled BHNC meeting will take place on June 22 at 6 p.m. where the new board will be seated.

Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published...

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