Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • At its first meeting of the year and the first since the arrest of Mayor Ontiveros for domestic violence, the Sanger City Council heard from three members of the public calling for his resignation and others who support him, citing due process. Ontiveros did not address any of the comments or questions, nor did any other councilmembers.

  • The council held its third public hearing to select a new district map that rebalances the current council districts. They reviewed four maps, two submitted by the public and two submitted by National Demographics Corporation. A fourth public hearing will occur March 3. 

  • The council also voted to initiate a mandate of indoor masking for all public buildings within the city and were updated on an increase in COVID cases from City Manager Chapa. He said that 13 city employees have tested positive in the last two weeks and that two councilmembers have not turned in vaccine attestation forms.

The Scene

The Sanger City Council meeting took place on Jan. 6, 2022. Per the agenda, the meeting was made available via Zoom and in person. This was the first meeting of the year, which followed the arrest of Mayor Ontiveros on Dec. 22, 2021 on domestic violence charges. 

Subsequently, California Senator Melissa Hurtado (sister of councilmember Esmeralda Hurtado), called for Ontiveros to resign as the Sanger mayor.  

Names of officials:

Eli Ontiveros, Mayor at large (term expires Nov. 2022)

Esmeralda Hurtado, Councilmember, District 1 (sister of Senator Melissa Hurtado)

Humberto Garza, Councilmember, District 2 (retired university administrator/college professor, community organizer)

Daniel Martinez, Mayor Pro Tem, District 3 

Michael Montelongo, Councilmember, District 4 (youth pastor and campus safety officer)

Ontiveros and Montelongo were in council chambers wearing masks, while Martinez and Hurtado were present via Zoom. Garza was absent. 

The council met for a closed session at 5 p.m. to conference with labor negotiators, including the Sanger Firefighters Association, Sanger Middle Management Organization and Sanger General Employees Organization, Local 39. 

A public comment from a member of the public who referred to themselves as the “At-large council member” Vincent Wall was made via Zoom. He asked a question “in light of the assault by a police officer and the domestic violence by the mayor.” “I’m wondering if the city is going to start talking about some sort of sexual harrassment training with their employees so at least the rest of the city employees don’t fall into this happening in our city,” he said. 

Prior to opening the public portion of the meeting, the council secretary said there were no reportable actions from the closed session. 

Gilbert Carrisalez led the council in a prayer via Zoom, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

The council then recognized Nate Cantu for his award-winning bodybuilding career. He is an 18-year-old high school senior who started bodybuilding when he was a freshman and won several first place awards in 2021. 


  • Approved declaration of several items, including three police vehicles as surplus property so they can be disposed of or put out to auction. 

    • A member of the public in council chambers requested that the item be pulled because he had a question about sharing the proceeds with an auctioneer.

      • City Manager Tim Chapa said the proceeds are shared with the auctioneer as payment. 

      • The man then asked about getting bids from different auctioneers. 

        • Chapa said they do not and they only go with the auction company that the city has worked with in the past. 

      • A member of the public commented via Zoom asking if they could have an auction because “there’s a lot of items that people would be interested in,” such as air compressors. 

        • Chapa said that through their experience it did not make sense for them to do that. 

The council moved into public hearing number three to present draft map options to rebalance the population of the current council districts:

  • A fourth public hearing will be held on March 3. 

  • Dr. Jeff Tilton, senior consultant from National Demographics Corporation (NDC), presented four map options via Zoom. 

  • The 2020 census found the total population was 26,720. 

  • Received two maps from the public and NDC prepared two. 

  • Three members of the public spoke in council chambers in support of 101 because it’s close to what they have currently. 

    • They all commented on the “finger” that sticks out in district 3 in map 202 that appears to be for a specific council member to “keep their seat.” 

  • Wall spoke in support of the public 101 map saying that no council members live on the east side of the city. 

  • Montelongo said he is still open to public feedback and reviewing the proposed maps. 

  • Hurtado said that it would be nice to have the maps in the agenda. She said she is looking forward to the public’s process. 

  • Martinez asked about the “fingers” that appear in maps 201 and 202, rather than a straight line cut off. 

    • Tilton said the number one criterion was equal population and that’s what those do. “You can move one area and it can really throw off the population balance in strange ways,” he said. 

    • Martinez said that “for full disclosure,” he doesn’t live in any of the “finger areas.” 

  • Ontiveros said that the public can still participate. 

  • Hurtado asked Tilton if there would be any community workshops in person or virtually to further discuss the maps with the community. 

    • Tilton said he can provide that but laughed saying, “it’s kinda timely” and it would be up to staff to approve any additional costs for that. 

    • He said they have a staff of 12 and two have covid now and they have been advised to be careful due to Covid. 

  • Tilton said there is a tool online that allows the maps to be reviewed in great detail. 

  • Chapa said that the public is free to submit additional maps through the hearing date in March. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • A member of the public, Kevin Carter, asked them to create an ordinance that council members should only be elected by the public, not appointed by the council. He also asked for the mayor to be elected by the public, not the council. 

    • “We need to go back to where we don’t have these districts,” he said. “We need to work for the good of the city as a whole, not just our individual districts.” 

  • Community member Rita Flores commented on a semi-truck parked in her neighborhood on Almond Avenue. 

    • It was noted that they would address it with code enforcement. 

  • “At-large council member” Vincent Wall was present via Zoom and called for the mayor to resign. 

    • “What business is going to want a picture with the man accused of domestic violence,” Wall said. “This city does not need this hanging over its head.” 

    • He said “this can not be tolerated in our community” and that it was an embarrassment. 

  • Three members of the public spoke in council chambers showing support for the mayor. 

  • Wall spoke again saying they should google the city of Sanger and the first thing that comes up is that the mayor of Sanger was arrested for domestic violence. 

    • “People aren’t going to come to this city when the mayor is literally accused of domestic violence and was arrested for it,” he said. “It is not good for Sanger to have our mayor arrested for domestic violence,” he said. 

  • Another member of the public commented via Zoom that “this will go nowhere I’m sure.” But, the mayor should step down. 

    • As he spoke, audio from a “hacker” cut in for a few seconds. 

  • A woman commented via Zoom that he deserves due process. 

  • Another woman commented via Zoom with a screen that said Efrain Elizondo saying, “When your private life becomes a distraction to your public life it is time to step down,” she said. “We need to distance ourselves from this particular situation.” 

  • Another woman, Carolina, commented via Zoom asking the mayor if he was going to comment or address the accusations. She was told that public comment was closed. 

After closing public comment, Chapa presented a side letter agreement between the City and the I.U.O.E. Stationary Local 39 implementing a 1% salary increase effective July 1, 2021, a 3.5% increase effective July 1, 2022 and an additional 3.5% salary increase effective July 1, 2023. It was approved unanimously. 

Ontiveros then opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Chapa. He updated the council on COVID-19:

  • He said high case counts are being seen due to Omicron, but they are more mild. 

  • The county is expecting to see the highest case counts at the end of January and into February. 

  • He said 13 of the city’s 120 employees have tested positive recently. 

  • He said two council members have not filled out the attestation about whether or not they’ve been vaccinated and fully vaccinated. He encouraged them to complete the attestation and they have the option to select that they decline to state.  

  • Montelongo said that he is aware of businesses that are going back to pick up or drive-thru only due to Covid. 

  • The meeting was open for public comments regarding COVID: 

    • Carter asked which council members will not fill out the form. 

    • Wall said he would also like to know who wouldn’t fill out the form. 

    • A member of the public via Zoom asked if they could work with businesses to encourage patrons to wear masks. “Is there anything that the city could do again and encourage the businesses that they have the right to refuse service,” he said. 

The council then approved a resolution initiating a mandate of indoor masking for all public buildings within the city. 

The council was then updated that J. D. Torrence is no longer employed with the City of Sanger. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Montelongo said he is vaccinated and they have his attestation on record. 

  • Martinez also said that he is fully vaccinated with his booster and encouraged others to be vaccinated. 

  • Hurtado said she is fully vaccinated and “I believe in science.” 

  • Ontiveros said they are reviewing applications for the open seats on the Sanger Planning Commission. He said they have received six applications. 

    • He said the north annexation is all on track to take place and they did get an update from LAFCO. 

The meeting adjourned at 7:32 p.m. The next meeting will be Jan. 20. They usually occur on the first and third Thursdays of each month in the council chambers of the Sanger City Hall at 1700 7th Street.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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