Big wins for Tanaka and Cerda, Terauchi returns; Semenza wins Clerk’s race in tight 3-way contest

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Paul Tanaka easily secured his third term as Gardena mayor, turning back the challenge of Councilwoman Rachel Johnson, 3,035 to 1,874 votes in the March 5 Municipal Election.

The City Clerk’s office updated this week after the counting of absentee ballots.

Mayor Paul Tanaka cruised to his third term in last week’s City elections snaring 62.21 percent of the votes compared to challenger, Councilwoman Rachel Johnson, who garnered 37.79 percent.

Paul Tanaka easily secured his third term as Gardena mayor, turning back the challenge of Councilwoman Rachel Johnson, 3,035 to 1,874 votes in the March 5 Municipal Election.

The City Clerk’s office updated this week after the counting of absentee ballots.

Mayor Paul Tanaka cruised to his third term in last week’s City elections snaring 62.21 percent of the votes compared to challenger, Councilwoman Rachel Johnson, who garnered 37.79 percent.

Standing on his financial track record, Tanaka ran a non-active campaign. He attended no candidates forums, however, was available to the media. Tanaka was endorsed by the Gardena Police Officers Association among supporters, and stood on his leadership in leading the City out of financial debt and into a healthy reserve.

He previously served as a Gardena Councilman from 1999 to 2005.

Write-in challengers Dan Medina, 319, and Norman Sase, no votes, comprise the remaining votes.

Both Johnson and Medina are in the middle of their 4-year Council terms.

Incumbent Tasha Cerda successfully won re-election, leading all council candidates with 2,611 votes. District attorney Terry Terauchi, who last served as Gardena mayor from 2001-2005, will return to City politics with 2,301 votes. He finished 59 votes ahead of challenger Rodney Tanaka, a retired Gardena police lieutenant and a licensed pastor, who garnered 2,242 votes.

Terauchi will assume the vacant seat left by termed-out Councilman Ron Ikejiri.

Rounding out the votes were candidates Mark Henderson, a Planning commissioner, who grabbed 1,199 votes and Kathleen “Suzy” Evans following 349 votes.

The City Clerk’s race was a three-way battle between candidates new to City politics, but Realtor Mina Semenza won the race by 57 votes. She received 1,699 votes to runner-up, businessman Art Kaskanian’s 1642 votes.

Kaskanian who trailed Shannon Tsukiyama by nine votes last week, moved past her with a nine-vote turnaround. Tsukiyama finished with 1,633 votes.

Semenza twice tried for Council and is a familiar volunteer worker in the community. Kaskanian, whose family owns Sam’s Auto Land on Western Avenue and Artesia Boulevard, is also in close contention. Tsukiyama, is the daughter-in-law of treasurer Ingrid Tsukiyama.

Ingrid Tsukiya successfully won her third term as City Treasurer as she ran unopposed. She finished with 4,496 votes.. Ingrid Tsukiyama recorded 4,089 votes in a no-pressure contest.

Voter turnout was extremely low, with 8 percent of registered voters going to the polls.

In the Los Angeles Community College District board of trustees races, Mike Eng turned back John Burke 1,172 votes to 985 for Seat. No. 2; Ernest Moreno wins  Seat No. 4, with 1,307 votes to Josef Essavi, 752; and for Seat No. 6, incumbent Nancy Pearl will return with 957 votes to challengers Tom Oliver, 613, David Vela, 316, and Michael Aldapa, 201 votes.