San Gabriel City Council voted on Monday to seat councilman-elect Chin Ho Liao, following a series of heated public hearings responding to a resident challenging Chin Ho Liao's eligibility.
The council launched the hearings after Fred Paine accused Liao, who won the March elections, of living outside of the city. During the April hearings, Liao provided evidence that he was renting an apartment in San Gabriel and was always intending to move into the city's borders.
Liao was represented by a legal team from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, who argued that the hearings disenfranchised Asian voters. "The city's population is about 60% Asian," the Los Angeles Times reports, "but the council has seen just two elected council members of Asian descent in its 100-year history."
A group of San Gabriel Valley elected officials also voiced support for Liao last Friday, holding a press conference in San Gabriel to oppose the city council's actions. Representative Judy Chu, Assemblyman Ed Chau, State Senator Ed Hernandez, and Mike Eng, as well council members and school board members from various cities, spoke about following the will of the people and argued the city council could not legitimately rule whether to seat the councilman based on residency, especially when two of the votes to launch the inquiry came from former incumbents who lost the election.
“It is unfair to prevent a duly elected candidate from being seated, and for that action to be taken by the very persons who were defeated," Chu said during the conference. "It undermines the democratic system. Any issue regarding qualifications should be taken up by a truly impartial agency, not those with a conflict of interest."
San Gabriel residents also expressed disappointment with their city council members. “At the time when we should be celebrating our centennial year, we have to go through this nightmare,” said resident Mary Garcia.
Liao will be seated during Tuesday's regular city council meeting, according to the the Times.