Benjamin Cardenas

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Benjamin Cardenas
Benjamin Cardenas.jpeg
Montebello Unified School Board, At-large
Term ends
November 2017
Years in position 3
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sUniversity of California-Los Angeles
ProfessionCongressional aide
Office website
Campaign website
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Benjamin Cardenas is an at-large member of the Montebello School Board. He won election against five other candidates on November 5, 2013. Chacon was first appointed to the board in 2012.


Cardenas earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California-Los Angeles in 2002. He has worked as a district director for Representative Grace Napolitano since 2003. Cardenas is a co-founder of the East Los Angeles Residents Association. Cardenas and his wife have three children.[1]



See also: Montebello Unified School District elections (2013)


Cardenas ran against fellow incumbents Hector A. Chacon and Gerri Guzman along with challengers Lani Cupchoy, Sonia Saucillo-Valencia and Frank Thomas Morales on November 5, 2013.


Montebello Unified School Board, Full terms, November 5, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngHector A. Chacon Incumbent 23.4% 4,440
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngBenjamin Cardenas Incumbent 22.7% 4,305
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngLani Cupchoy 19.6% 3,717
     Nonpartisan Gerri Guzman Incumbent 19.1% 3,635
     Nonpartisan Sonia Saucillo-Valencia 8.6% 1,642
     Nonpartisan Frank Thomas Morales 6.7% 1,265
Total Votes 19,004
Source: Los Angeles County Clerk, "NOVEMBER 5, 2013 - LOCAL & MUNI CONSOLIDATED ELECTION Final Official Election Returns" accessed December 18, 2013


Cardenas did not report any contributions or expenditures to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.


Cardenas received the following endorsements during the 2013 campaign:[2]

Campaign themes


Cardenas explained his reasons for running in 2013 on his campaign website:[3]

In the few months since my appointment (December 2012) to the Montebello Unified School District, I have been actively visiting our schools, met with parent groups, spoken with students, teachers and administrators to better understand the students we serve and assess the needs of our district. In addition, I had the privilege of bringing my friend, Astronaut Jose Hernandez, to motivate our students; have been working with the California office of public construction to submit a robust grant application to retrofit our most needed facilities; and am working to bring an innovative Federally funded program for our at-risk student population.

My support for quality teaching, top grade schools and mental health services will ensure that we not only keep providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum, but also a conducive and safe learning environment while focusing on the child as a whole. Among a few of our current district highlights are: meeting the national average graduation rate of nearly 80%; daily attendance rate above 95%; earned a federal $7 Million Dollar head start grant for early child education and recently distributed over 12,000 computers to our schools.

I have always considered myself a Public Servant and commit to building even stronger and more vibrant learning communities and maintain safe and sound environments. I humbly offer 10 years of Congressional work experience as District Director for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano; a diverse and vast network of collaborators and partners; and a unique understanding of the policy decision-making process.

As a father of three, product of public education and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I know first-hand that a top quality education is the greatest equalizer for children of all backgrounds. I pledge to continue working together with students, parents, teachers, my colleagues, and all stakeholders to create unlimited opportunities for quality teaching and learning; and prepare our students for a global, twenty-first century world. I will work diligently to ensure that our children’s needs are effectively addressed and all our school communities receive the honest and beneficial representation and services that each deserve! You can count on me to make decisions that always keep the success of our children as the ultimate bottom line.

I hope to count on your vote and most importantly I hope to count on your trust.

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

What was at stake?

Controversial campaign mailer

A campaign committee called the Voters for Good Government sent out a mailer prior to the election pointing out domestic violence charges against Gerri Guzman in September 2012. The mailer included a copy of the arrest record from Los Angeles County, a mug shot and text connecting the arrest to Guzman's failures as a board member. Guzman was never prosecuted in connection with the charges due to lack of evidence. She expressed disappointment that the mailer attempted to use domestic violence as a campaign issue. Voters for Good Government was registered to local political operative David Gould.[4]

About the district

Montebello Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California
Montebello Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California. According to the 2010 Census, the population of Montebello is 62,500.[5]


Montebello lagged behind state rates for higher education achievement, median income and poverty according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with Bachelor's degrees (16.7%) was lower than the state average (30.2%). The 2010 U.S. Census calculated a median income of $52,496 in Montebello and $61,632 for California. Montebello had a poverty rate of 15% in 2010 while California's poverty rate was 14.4%.[5]

Racial Demographics, 2010[5]
Race Montebello (%) California (%)
White 53.8 57.6
Black or African American 0.9 6.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 1 1
Asian 11 13
Native Hawaiian 0.1 0.4
Two or More Races 3.7 4.9
Hispanic or Latino 79.3 36.7

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[6][7]

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