Having a Latino Mayor of Santa Ana

Seemed like a good idea at the time . . .

Twelve years ago, when Santa Ana voters elected Miguel Pulido as their mayor, it seemed not only a logical choice—Santa Ana was, and is, the most Latino big city in the United States—but promisingly progressive, too. Pulido was originally lured into politics by the threat to local businesses (including his father's muffler shop) by overzealous redevelopment bureaucrats. He based his first run for city council in 1986 on a platform proclaiming the value of local merchants and residents as vital to the city core. With Pulido as mayor, most people figured that the OC county seat would pursue its potential as a hub of culture and innovation. Instead Santa Ana has become a donut city—ever-expanding but with no center. Pulido threw millions of dollars into an Artists' Village that, even a decade later, struggles to attract visitors—and those who do come are usually from out of town or the city's insular loft scene; they are not the city's teeming Latino masses. Rather than face his critics, Pulido makes about as many appearances as Greta Garbo. Even as the city's infrastructure crumbles, Pulido continues to bless projects that do little to address the city's need: the latest white elephant is One Broadway Plaza, a proposed 37-story building near a residential neighborhood that Pulido couldn't officially vote on during council meetings because of a conflict of interest. But worst of all? Pulido is a vegetarian, a worse insult to the city's Latino majority than if he cavorted with the Minutemen.

 
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