La prensa

CV Candidate Drops Out, Cardenas Recruiting Replacement

Author: La Prensa
Created: 21 May, 2024
Updated: 22 May, 2024
6 min read

By Arturo Castañares

A candidate for a local school board seat has announced she is withdrawing from the race over medical issues and a political consultant convicted of two felonies in March is actively recruiting someone to replace her in the upcoming November elections.

Dr. Alexis Aviña, who has been running for a seat on the Chula Vista Elementary School District Board of Trustees, announced last week that she is withdrawing her candidacy to focus on her health.

Alexis Aviña
Dr. Alexis Aviña

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks, my health has taken a turn, and I must prioritize my well-being,” Aviña wrote in a social media post. “I look forward to the day when I can resume this journey with renewed energy and commitment,” she added.

Aviña was running against incumbent Trustee Kate Bishop who was first elected in November 2020.

Kate Bishop
Kate Bishop

Even before Aviña publicly announced her withdrawal, political consultant Jesus Cardenas was already making calls to recruit a candidate to challenge Bishop. 


Jesus Cardenas
Jesus Cardenas

Cardenas and his sister, Andrea Cardenas, were indicted by District Attorney Summer Stephan in November 2023 on 14 felony charges related to a fraudulent COVID-era federal loan they applied for through their consulting business, Grassroots Resources. Both of the siblings pleaded guilty to two charges each in February in exchange for an agreement with prosecutors where they would not face more than one year in prison.

Andrea Cardenas had been elected to the Chula Vista City Council in November 2020 and resigned her position just one week before pleading guilty.

Article - Uber

Andrea Cardenas
Andrea Cardenas

On March 27th, prosecutors asked Judge Rachel Cano to sentence Cardenas to six months in county jail and to ban him from continuing to work as a political consultant. Instead, Cano sentenced Cardenas to 180 days in court custody diversion programs, including 45 days living in a halfway house and 135 days of alternative custody at home without restricting his political work.

Cardenas is currently living in a residential detention program where he can leave during the day for work but must return at night to sleep in the communal setting.

Two sources confirmed that Cardenas was calling potential candidates last week to offer support against Bishop. No candidate has yet announced their intention to run.

Bishop recently won the endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party over Aviña during a meeting of the South Region where both of the Cardenas siblings attended and voted against Bishop. Their votes were later invalidated because the siblings had already missed three Party meetings and they had technically self-removed from their membership positions.

Cardenas supported Bishop when he was hired to run candidate outreach efforts for the Democratic Party during the 2020 election where Bishop was one of the endorsed candidates, but soon after her election, Bishop says Cardenas tried to exert pressure on her on how to vote on her Board.

After Bishop pushed back on Cardenas, someone leaked social media posts Bishop had written as far back as 2011 where she made generally inappropriate and embarrassing comments about herself and her young son.

Bishop, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from UC San Diego, has worked as a costume designer for over 20 years.

Several people raised concerns about Bishop’s social media posts to the school district and Bishop agreed to step down from her position as the school board’s president but not from the board.

Article - Uber

“As a parent involved in education, I see this as a teachable moment that things put on the internet last forever,” Bishop wrote in a statement in response to the controversy. “The intent of these tweets was meant to be funny, but they weren't, and without context years later, they have actually hurt people that I care about,” she added.

Bishop called the posts “past mistakes” and said she had “been more mindful of things that I post publicly online since then.”

The candidates for school board elections do not run in primary elections so all candidates will appear on the November 5th ballot. 

But the release of damaging information leaked about Bishop after confronting Cardenas was not the only time a political candidate has faced a controversy suspected of having been launched by Cardenas.

Last fall, after Andrea Cardenas was indicted along with her brother, Bishop’s colleague on the Chula Vista Elementary School Board, Cesar Fernandez, announced he would challenge Cardenas in her upcoming re-election to the Chula Vista City Council.

Cesar Fernandez
Cesar Fernandez

Cardenas had been his political consultant when Fernandez ran for the school board in 2022.

But after Fernandez announced he would run against Andrea Cardenas, information was leaked that he had previously been convicted of a drug charge and a DUI.

No information about his criminal past had surfaced while Cardenas ran his previous campaign.

Article - Uber

Fernandez admitted that he had received a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence and claimed the previous drug charge was a misdemeanor for smoking marijuana when he was 19 years old. The conviction had been expunged from his record several years ago.

In an interview with La Prensa San Diego in February, Fernandez detailed his drug conviction as a minor incident more than 30 years ago that he claimed was being used to damage his campaign.

But the week before the March 5th election, La Prensa San Diego confirmed with sources within the Superior Court that Fernandez had lied about the nature and seriousness of his drug conviction.

Court documents show that Fernandez pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge of possessing a large amount of marijuana for sale, not for simply smoking the drug, as he had claimed.

A plea deal allowed him to avoid serving time in state prison.

More than a year later, Fernandez petitioned the court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor and then, years later, that lower charge was expunged from his record.

When confronted by La Prensa San Diego on the details of his felony conviction just days before the election, Fernandez said he “couldn’t remember” if he was convicted of a felony because “it was more than 30 years ago.”  

But, Fernandez, who is a high school teacher, has had to explain his prior convictions to receive and maintain his teaching credential as well as during job interviews.

Article - Uber

Fernandez received the most votes among six candidates who ran to replace Andrea Cardenas who resigned in February. Fernandez received 23.4% of the vote, followed by former City Councilman Rudy Ramirez who garnered 19.9% of the total votes.

Rudy Ramirez
Rudy Ramirez


The two candidates will face off in the November 5th General Election.

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