Meet the candidates running in West Covina’s District 4 race

As current Mayor and Councilman Dario Castellanos opts-out of seeking reelection, District 4 sees an opening


Courtesy of Ron Cogswell/Flickr

West Covina’s District 4 will be electing a new council member this coming election, as candidates Yara Wolff, Daniel Luna and Ollie Cantos are set to face off on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Wolff, Luna and Cantos, while all running as nonpartisan candidates, represent different factions, both new and old, in West Covina’s politics. Wolff has been endorsed by incumbent councilmembers such as District 5’s Tony Wu, Cantos’ campaign treasurer is former West Covina Mayor and Councilman Steve Herfert, while Luna has been endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party as well as by incumbent Councilmember Brian Tabatabai, according to his website.

The candidates

Ollie Cantos

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Ollie Cantos is a West Covina native known for his  record of working in the federal government as well as in the nonprofit sector. Cantos, who has been blind since birth, has been an advocate of the disabled community and currently serves as the chairman of Respect Ability, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for the disabled community.

Cantos spent more than two decades in Washington D.C. working in the federal government, including serving as associate director of the White House Domestic Policy Council from 2006- 2007.

His time in D.C. also included eight years working in the Department of Justice and he currently serves in the Department of Education as special assistant to the assistant secretary, office for civil rights, working remotely.

Asked about what motivated him to make the decision to run for local office, Cantos said, “Well, I wanted to run for office for a very long time since I was in my teens or early 20s.” Cantos continued, “What I wanted to do was to run for elected office, because when getting to serve in the council, if this whole effort is successful, it means that I will be able to help facilitate, our making a difference all together, where government isn’t the only solution to all of our community’s problems.”

Cantos emphasizes increased public-private partnerships and cooperation with nonprofit organizations as a key part of his platform.

“We need to be in this together. It can’t be us versus them, it can’t be based on political ideology. It has to be based on this community really being together, doing whatever we can to support. One-on-one interactions, working with nonprofit organizations, partnering up with businesses and working with the government,” he says.

Daniel Luna

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Daniel Luna is a West Covina resident, union representative and father of three who first became involved in West Covina politics back in 2021 due to his interest in opposing the creation of West Covina’s health department.

Luna, who will be on the ballot as a nonpartisan candidate, has received endorsements from the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, a variety of local unions such as Teamsters Local 396, current council member Brian Tabatabai and labor activist Dolores Huerta, according to his website. Luna currently works as a union representative for Service Employees International Union SEIU Local 100 and describes himself as a progressive.

Asked about what he believes is most important in this upcoming election, Luna said, “I think it’s deciding as a community what direction do we want to take? Is it one that maintains the status quo of our city council fighting with the county, not cooperating with the state, this attitude that they think that they could do it themselves and that we’re like an island, or do we embrace that we’re part of a bigger community as a city, that we’re part of the county and that we’re part of the state?”

Yara Wolff

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Yara Wolff, a school site member originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, moved to California at a young age and has lived in West Covina for three years. She is married and the mother of two young boys.

In an interview with the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Wolff lists improving parks and recreation programs, public safety and pedestrian safety surrounding local schools as top priorities of her campaign.

Wolff also believes her experiences coming from Zacatecas, as well as working in business later in her life makes her best fit for the seat. “Having gone from a life of extreme poverty and working to help pay my way to college, to completing my MBA and working for an S&P 500 company, I understand the challenges and priorities of everyday life,” she said in the interview.

However, Wolff has come under scrutiny from accusations made by councilmember Brian Tabatabai on Facebook. In the post, Tabatabai claims that William Elliott, a West Covina resident who sparked controversy over racial remarks he has made at city council meetings over the years, is a member of Yara Wolff’s campaign staff.

Wolff declined SAC.Media’s request for comment when asked about the validity of these claims.