Even before the current accusation of cocaine use and domestic violence, it was difficult to square Assemblyman Roger Hernandez the man with his bid for re-election next week to a second term in the Legislature.
Since his time as a member of the West Covina City Council, the Democrat has presented himself at times as an ill-mannered and petulant public official, quick to blame others and dodge responsibility for his troubles, which include a recent DUI acquittal and past domestic violence claims.
Considering that he has a leadership position in the Assembly, and the good that could mean for the San Gabriel Valley, a constituent might hope that Hernandez would lead and handle himself well for the good of the district.
Or, a constituent might hope to be spared further drama and see Hernandez resign prior to the election for a second term.
Hernandez’s resignation is the hope of Baldwin City Councilwoman Marlen Garcia, herself a past victim of domestic violence, and it is a courageous position that could hurt her politically. She says that Hernandez has already threatened to use the power of his office to punish her because of her outspokenness.
But perhaps there is something better than resignation: Let the voters decide.
I’m not minimizing the domestic violence charges. According to this newspaper, West Covina police served the 37-year-old assemblyman with an emergency protective order filed by a woman who claimed that he hit and slammed her into a wall. The woman also accused him of using cocaine. Hernandez denied the charges, and his lawyer suggested it was a political smear campaign.
If charges are filed, and Hernandez is convicted, his political career, regardless of Tuesday’s results, most likely will be finished. No charges have been filed.
His history with West Covina police, which revolves around past domestic violence claims, prompted the department to hand the case over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. We will see where that ends.
This is a moment that voters of the San Gabriel Valley should embrace. They have an opportunity to decide what type of officeholder they want representing them. If they believe Hernandez is unfit, they have a chance to render their own verdict. If they believe that the litany of accusations is just dirty politics, they have a different option.
I’m reminded of Marion Barry. The then-Washington, D.C. mayor was videotaped smoking crack with a hooker. He was later convicted of felony drug charges. But once he was released from prison, voters put him back on the City Council and eventually voted him in as mayor. The D.C. voters decided what type of leaders they wanted, for good or for bad.
The largely Democratic 48th Assembly District, which includes Duarte, Azusa, Glendora, Covina, West Covina, Baldwin Park, Irwindale, parts of El Monte, and the unincorporated communities of Charter Oak, Bassett and Valinda, now has a similar opportunity.