Voters in the San Fernando Valley face a difficult choice between Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez and Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla in the Democratic primary for Richard Alarcón’s state Senate seat in the 20th District. Both candidates are smart and likable, with demonstrated leadership skills. Both are young Latinos who entered politics with a strong sense of idealism and commitment to community life. And both also have tremendous support from the movers and shakers in California politics. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2But when it comes to passion, leadership and commitment to the Valley and all its communities, Montañez clearly has the edge. Montañez joined the San Fernando City Council at 25 and helped turn the small city into a residential and business haven. Today it stands in stark contrast to the largely poverty-stricken, Northeast Valley portions of the city of Los Angeles that surround it – neighborhoods that Padilla represented during his tenure on the council and as its president. Padilla can rightfully boast that he played a key role in getting the Children’s Museum to be built at Hansen Dam, but he shelved plans to redevelop Pacoima and failed to get badly needed streetlights in the area. And less rightful are his boasts of building a police station, fire stations and schools in the area. These were the results of public bond measures, not from any heroic efforts at City Hall. Upon being elected to the Assembly at the age of 28 in 1999, Montañez continued to be an energetic and passionate advocate for her values, authoring key legislation to protect car buyers and crack down on phony-ID rings. And while she is unabashedly pro-labor, she recognizes that her first obligation is to the public, which is why she keeps an open mind about breaking up the Los Angeles Unified School District or putting it under mayoral control. Padilla, who’s endorsed by the local teachers union, is far less receptive to such ideas. And, in general, he’s hard to pin down on much of anything, be it redistricting or design-build construction that would get major projects done faster and cheaper. He is laconic and reserved, preferring to work behind the scenes. Padilla is a fine politician, but Montañez is the better leader, and the right choice in this race.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!