San Fernando Councilman Resigns Amid Affair Scandal

Councilman Mario Hernandez reportedly stepped down hours before the City Council was set to meet Tuesday

View Comments ()



    San Fernando Councilman Mario Hernandez resigned Tuesday and the recall effort against two others picked up support. Councilmembers called Mayor Brenda Esqueda to step down amid allegations she had an affair with a police officer while still voting on police matters. Esqueda says she may be an elected official, but she is "still a human being." Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11pm on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 (Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012)

    The San Fernando councilman who admitted last year to an affair with a fellow council member with whom he allegedly had a violent confrontation last month resigned his post Tuesday.

    Councilman Mario Hernandez stepped down hours before the City Council was set to meet, officials said.

    San Fernando Councilman Resigns Amid Sex Scandal

    [LA] San Fernando Councilman Resigns Amid Sex Scandal
    Councilman Mario Hernandez stepped down from his post hours before the city council was set to meet Tuesday, July 10. Colleagues called on Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre, with whom Hernandez admitted to have an affair, and Mayor Brenda Esqueda to follow Hernandez's example. Kim Baldonado reports from San Fernando for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 10, 2012. (Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012)

    "I want to apologize to the community for the inconveniences caused by my personal life," Hernandez said in a statement to be read at the meeting on his behalf.

    Tuesday's resignation is the latest development in the scandal that rocked the city beginning last fall when Hernandez, 47, announced at an open council meeting -- with his wife in attendance -- that he was having an affair with Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre, 41.

    Councilmembers called on De La Torre and Mayor Brenda Esqueda to follow Hernandez' example. All three are the targets of a recall campaign, which has garnered enough signatures to move forward, the San Fernando Valley Sun reports.

    "I'm pleading with them, it is time for you to also resign," said councilmember Sylvia Ballin. "Please step down. Give us a chance. We want to move forward. We want to pick up the pieces."

    Esqueda has been accused of having an affair with a police officer while still voting on police matters, responded to those allegations at Tuesday night's meeting.

    "We might be elected officials, but we still are human beings," she said at an impromptu news conference.

    Their colleagues say details of the couple's personal life -- as laid out in police reports -- are preventing the city from progressing and residents say they are disappointed in their elected officials.

    "There’s beautiful people in San Fernando and you let them down," a resident told the council.

    Hernandez and De La Torre took out restraining orders against each other last month prompted by allegations of violence during an argument at Hernandez’s.

    The orders required the pair to stay 100 yards away from each other.

    San Fernando Mayor Pro Tem Antonio Lopez said Tuesday that the pair has caused "enough damage" and it was time for the city of 23,000 to get its government in order.

    Both parties recently released statements to the media regarding their personal ordeal that has become very public.

    "Words cannot begin to express how saddened I am over the events of the past several days," De La Torre wrote in a statement released last week. "While I would like to address the allegations, it would be inappropriate to discuss this matter until any potential legal issues are resolved."

    Hernandez issued a statement to media saying there is "no excuse" for domestic violence, and that false accusations mock the real thing.

    "The only thing I will say is I have never raised my hand against her at any time, nor any other woman in my entire life," he said. "Those that mock this private issue, shame on them, because domestic violence is not a laughing matter.''

    City News Service contributed to this article.

    Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts