Baru Sanchez, 25, a senior auditor with White Nelson Diehl Evans LLP (WNDE), is more than just your typical certified public accountant (CPA). In April 2013, he was sworn in as a city councilman for the City of Cudahy.
Baru first moved to Cudahy, a small town in southeastern Los Angeles, at age 12. As has been the case with its better known neighboring city Bell, Cudahy’s city government has been rife with corruption. A recent extortion and bribery case saw its mayor, a council member and city administrator arrested.
“It was bad” admitted Baru. “Residents opposed to the city council were subject to intimidation, with their homes and vehicles vandalized. There was also voter fraud that maintained the same leadership.”
Wanting to make a difference in the community, Baru became involved in local politics and decided to run for city council. He consulted with mentors, including some of the partners at WNDE, who encouraged him to do so.
He said, “They told me to go for it. It’s a good learning opportunity and a chance to do some good in a community that has been forgotten for years.”
He teamed up with two other young, reform-minded men and became part of an opposition slate of candidates to the incumbents. They walked precincts, knocked on doors, sent mailers, engaged in phone banking and took part in a community forum. To the surprise of his opponents, the slate won.
In office, Baru hopes to bring greater transparency to the City of Cudahy. He is working on having an independent audit of the city’s finances as a first-step to “prevent fraud.” He’s using his skills as a CPA to carefully review city budget documents. He explained, “Whereas the council before was not a council who questioned city staff, now it’s different. I ask questions. I try to be a critical thinker, analyzing every detail and its impact on the community.”
One of the new council’s first acts was to impose term limits in an effort to impose a healthy turnover of council members. Other plans include encouraging new businesses to come into the community.
Baru first came to work for WNDE as an intern in 2008. He was hired full-time in 2010. He doesn’t know how long his political career will last—“I’m not a politician,” he noted—especially since being a new council member can be demanding and stressful. However, he’s pleased to be a part of Cudahy’s government at the moment, and hopes to make a positive impact on his community. He remarked, “We want to clean up the city. It’s going to take time, but I think we can make it better.”