California Cities for Self-Reliance Joint Powers Authority (JPA) comprises five member cities with local card club operations that include the cities of Bell Gardens, Commerce, Compton, Cudahy and Hawaiian Gardens. The JPA’s mission is to empower communities and leadership statewide to advocate for card rooms as vital resources to cities and local services such as police, fire, schools and transportation. We achieve our mission by educating and engaging community, lobbying, communications and legal action.
- Collaboration across community, business and elected leadership
- Integrity in work, decision making and relationships
- Work regionally to effect change statewide
- Increase awareness of the essential economic value that cities and communities derive from card rooms.
- Local leaders advocate for card rooms as vital to the economic health of cities, communities and local services.
- Build a network that can communicate and activate support in real time
CHAIR - Hugo A. Argumedo, City of Commerce
Councilmember Hugo A. Argumedo moved to the City of Commerce in 1994 and was elected to the City Council in 1996 to fill the unexpired term of Ruben Batres. He was reelected to the City Council in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015 and 2020.
Councilmember Argumedo has played an active role in the City and is committed to improving community safety, education and employment. Among his accomplishments are helping to initiate the City’s Education Commission; restructuring the City scholarship program resulting in more money being raised for Commerce students with college expenses; and initializing the Citadel expansion project, doubling the number of stores at the Citadel and creating many jobs and added revenue to our City for years to come. In addition, he helped pass the Hotel Visitor Tax, which generates an estimated $2.3 million annually; negotiated a new fire department contract, saving the City of Commerce over 11 million dollars; oversaw new homes being built in the Bristow and Veteran Park areas; and is a strong advocate of community-based policing and the Neighborhood Watch Program.
In addition to his duties on the City Council, Councilmember Argumedo served as a member of the California Contract Cities Association, I-710 Oversight Policy Committee, Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District and also served as a representative with the Southern California Association of Governments.
He also served as a member of many community-based organizations, including the Model City Democratic Club of Commerce, the Commerce Sister City Association, and the Rosewood Park Elementary School PTA.
Councilmember Argumedo is the proud father of four children and has 30 years of work experience as a computer/network technician for Northrop Grumman Corporation.
VICE-CHAIR - Alejandra Cortez, City of Bell Gardens
Coming from humble beginnings, Alejandra Cortez grew up in the City of Bell Gardens where she attended local public schools and later became the first in her family to graduate from a 4-year university, UCLA.
Alejandra graduated with a B.A in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and was the recipient of the UCLA Chancellor’s Service Award for her sustained record of outstanding leadership and service in her community.
Upon graduating from UCLA, she began working under former Senator Gloria Romero in the non-profit California Center for Parent Empowerment (CCPE). During this time, she aided with the implementation of the Open Enrollment Act; which allowed students attending the 1,000 lowest achieving schools to enroll in higher achieving schools regardless of residence.
After almost two years with CCPE, Alejandra began working for the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) where she is currently a District Parental & Community Liaison, serving the underprivileged low-income families from Montebello, Bell Gardens and portions of the cities of Pico Rivera, Commerce, Downey, Monterey Park and East Los Angeles. In this capacity, she focuses on parent education and building leaders within MUSD schools so that they can participate in the school advisory and decision-making committees. One of her proudest accomplishments is serving on the Educational Equality Advisory Committee and spearheading the first ever MUSD LGBTQ+ and immigration conference geared for students and families.
Alejandra has dedicated many years to public service ranging from coaching a boys’ youth soccer team, to partnering with nonprofits to bring immigration workshops to the community, to mentoring youth and educating parents on financial aid literacy and the “road to college,” to now serving as a Board Member of the UCLA Alumni Los Angeles Southeast Network and as the Mayor of the City of Bell Gardens.
She is a voice and an advocate for her community.
SECRETARY - Victor Farfan, City of Hawaiian Gardens
Victor Farfan was born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens. After graduating from Artesia High School he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Occidental College. Victor has always had an affinity for his home town and has been committed to its betterment. Prior to his election to the City Council, he served as chair of the Hawaiian Gardens Public Safety Commission and as a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. Councilman Farfan has also served as a member of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments and the Cities for Self Reliance Joint Powers Authority. He is a Commercial Insurance Broker with Spectrum Risk Management and Insurance Services. Council Member Farfan and his wife Arlene are proud parents of two sons, Troy and Cole Farfan.
TREASURER - Emma Sharif, City of Compton
Emma Sharif is the newly elected Mayor for the City of Compton since July 2021. Prior to her Mayoral victory, she was elected to represent the 4th District of the Compton City Council in June of 2015. Emma has been a resident of Compton for over 20 years, proudly raising her children and working in the community throughout that time. No stranger to hard work, Emma has always had a passion for education and public service. She demonstrated her passion for students through her time as a public-school teacher, and a Youth Development Director in Compton. Observing the need for more qualified and dedicated teachers Emma became a staunch advocate for student success and their overall well-being.
As a result of her passion and advocacy, in 2001, Emma was appointed to the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees, filling a Board vacancy. In 2003, Emma successfully ran for the full term and served as Trustee of CUSD Board of Directors for 14 years. In her time as Trustee, Emma successfully championed the efforts of bringing the Emergency Repair Program (ERP) to the District. The ERP program yielded over $40 million to repair 28 schools within the District. As Trustee, Emma continued to exemplify her leadership by serving in various capacities, including President, Vice President, Clerk, and Legislative Representative.
In 2015, Emma ran a successful campaign for Compton City Council District 4. Since serving on the council, Sharif has championed many projects. As a freshman, Emma was given the task of continuing and enhancing the existing scholarship program awarding over $10,000 to the city’s scholars in most need. She has championed and supported the Collaborative Court, which was implemented at the Compton Courthouse. Emma coordinated efforts with partnering cities to address the growing concerns of human trafficking in Compton, Long Beach, Lynwood, etc. Emma has been leading the charge to address the growing concerns of Homelessness in Compton with partnering cities and agencies. She also coordinated the redevelopment and renovation of South Park. As Councilperson for the 4th District, Emma served on several regional and statewide committees. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science/Sociology; and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Emma’s future vision is to make sure Kelly Park receives the same updates and renovation. Her strong community ties and independent thinking led to a strategic and systematic effort of cleaning up the city. Mayor Emma Sharif is dedicated to addressing quality of life issues, government transparency, and equality for all residents in Compton and its neighboring cities. Mayor Sharif proudly represents Compton when building relationships with other cities and counties as well as State and Federal Legislative Leaders. She works to create a professional and respectful business culture.
As Mayor, some of Emma’s priorities are to:
- Improve the city’s technology infrastructure to allow the online processing of common payments, forms, and applications
- Pay-off existing deficit by 2024
- Identify innovative ways to generate revenue for the City
- Create an initiative to clean and beautify the City
- Re-establish the Department of Parks and Recreation
MEMBER - Martin U. Fuentes, City of Cudahy
Martin U. Fuentes is a prominent figure in the Cudahy community, serving as a council member for the city. Born and raised in Cudahy, Martin has a deep connection to the community and is committed to making positive changes for its residents.
Martin attended local schools and graduated from Cudahy High School before earning his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles. After college, he worked as a public servant for several years before being elected to the Cudahy City Council in 2016.
As a council member, Martin has been a strong advocate for community development and has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for Cudahy residents. He has prioritized the needs of families, small businesses, and underserved communities and has championed initiatives that promote economic growth, affordable housing, and public safety.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - Juan Garza
Juan Garza is the Executive Director. He is also Principal at Six Heron in Southern California, a strategic communications & relations firm where he is engaged in and has advocated on behalf of a broad variety of industries including cardrooms, international trade, beverage, housing, land use, public transportation, telecommunications, horse racing, security and infrastructure at the local, regional, state and federal levels. Additionally, he has successfully engaged in industry-leading environmental initiatives and capital improvement projects in areas that include water, waste, development, and technology.
Juan is also a policymaker, previously serving as Mayor of the City of Bellflower and as President of the Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities, representing 86 of its member cities. In these capacities, he has engaged in issues that include transportation, homelessness, air quality, fiscal education and housing solutions at the state, regional and local level.
As manager of operations in the private sector, he has been responsible for annual operating budgets up to $90 million, generated annual revenues up to $120 million, successfully lobbied and obtained over $350 million in public funding and managed headcounts up to 350 employees.
He has a Master of Public Administration, a Bachelor's Degree in Geography and a Certificate in Urban Studies, all from California State University, Long Beach. He and his wife Mayra, Educator, have three young sons.