By Val G. Abelgas

LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Rob Bonta leads Filipino-American winners in California in the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8.

Bonta, a progressive reformer who was appointed last year and is the first Filipino to hold the job in any state, beat back a challenge from a Republican former federal prosecutor to capture a full four-year term.

Bonta had 57% of the votes as of Thursday in the race against Republican Nathan Hochman to be the state’s top law enforcement official.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association hailed Bonta as “one of the most active attorneys general in the nation on everything from defending reproductive rights to promoting workers’ rights.”

In Los Angeles, Filipino-American Kenneth Mejia, a 31-year-old accountant, maintained a healthy lead over three-term City Councilman Paul Koretz in the race for Los Angeles City Controller, according to partial results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

In fact, Mejia, a newcomer to city politics, declared victory on Twitter shortly after initial results were released Tuesday night.

“We did it!” Mejia tweeted.

Back in the June primary, Mejia picked up 43% of the vote compared to 24% for Koretz. As of press time, Mejia has 290,736 votes (60.9%) against Koretz’s 186,483 votes (39.1%).

The runoff race pitted Mejia, an activist who seeks to change the status quo, against Koretz, who questioned Mejia’s proposals and touted his own experience and connections at City Hall.

The city controller serves as Los Angeles’ chief accounting officer, overseeing audits, accounting operations and financial reporting – including submitting reports on the effectiveness of city departments.

In Carson, Arleen Rojas, the first Filipino woman to become a Los Angeles police officer and the first Filipino woman to win a seat in the Carson City Council in almost 30 years, won reelection to District 4 Council seat she won in a special election last year.

Rojas was leading fellow Filipino-American Fred Docdocil with 64.2% of the votes (1,815 votes) against Docdocil’s 35.8% (1,012 votes).

Another Filipino-American candidate, Oscar Ramos, was way behind former Mayor and current Councilmember Jim Dear in District 2. Dear had 71.4% (2,013 votes) against Ramos’ 18.8% (531 votes) and Ricardo Contreras’ 9.7% (274 votes).

In West Covina, two Filipino-Americans won their bids for a council seat. Former Mayor Letty Lopez-Viado ran unopposed in District 2.

In District 4, former White House official Ollie Cantos won against two opponents. Cantos, who was born blind but rose to become an attorney and occupy important positions in the White House under both Democratic and Republican presidents, had a comfortable lead with 44.7% of the votes (1,247 votes) against Daniel Luna, who had 33.7% (940 votes) and Yara Wolf with 21.6% (603 votes).

In Artesia, Mayor Melissa Ramoso, was ahead of the pack running for three council seats up for grabs with 31.5% (1,341 votes). Running second was re-electionist Councilmember Ali Taj with 29.6% (1,263 votes), Councilmember Rene Trevino with 26.6 (1,134 votes) and fourth was Alma Griffin with 12.3% (525 votes).

In Claremont, Mayor Jed Leano was way ahead for District 4 councilmember with 57.8% (1,106 votes) against Aundre Johnson, who had 42.2% (809 votes).

In Culver City, Stephanie Loredo was running third in the tight race for three trustee seats in the school board with 15.6% (3,416 votes). Right behind her was Darrel Mente with 14.1% (3,008 votes). The first two slots were occupied by Brian Guerrero with 16.6% (3,646 votes) and Triston Ezidore with 16.0% (3,514 votes).

In Rowland Heights, Agnes Gonzalez run unopposed for school board trustee in Area 1.

In Anaheim, Filipino-American candidate Lorri Gallaway was running third in the mayoralty race with 17% of the votes.

Bonta, 50, was appointed more than midway through his predecessor’s four-year term, so he is eligible to run for two additional full terms. That could allow him to serve nearly 10 years in an office that already has given him a national stage on issues as diverse as abortion, climate change, gay rights and gun control.

The job has been a springboard for many of those who have held it.

Bonta took over when Xavier Becerra left to become the Biden administration’s health secretary, and Becerra succeeded Kamala Harris, who went on to the U.S. Senate and now is vice president. Edmund “Pat” Brown became governor, and his son, Jerry, won the post and then became governor again more than three decades after first holding the job. Earl Warren went on to become the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice.

Bonta prevailed despite attempts by Hochman to capitalize on voters’ frustration with rising crime and homelessness. He blamed Bonta for what he called the state’s “spiral of lawlessness,” but he had difficulty making his case to a statewide audience despite having a bigger campaign war chest than all but one other GOP statewide candidate.