An Anti-Endorsement Voting Guide to Santa Ana’s Special Election!

Photo by Gustavo Arellano

It must be special election time in SanTana. Campaign signs are all around town and mailers are stuffing boxes in an otherwise off-year. Candidates have all but hoped for some profile piece exposure in the Weekly leading up to tomorrow’s ballot. Funny enough, despite all the flattery of that last part, it just shows who doesn’t read this paper all that closely.

Sure, this infernal rag used to endorse candidates waaaay back in the day only for OC’s Palpatines to turn Sidious! And then there’s the rare, honest folks trying to overturn a rotted system. Even then, Weekly words of praise are little more than eloquent curses, a kiss of death for any hopes of electability–just ask former city council candidates Donna Acevedo-Nelson or Duane Roberts in Anaheim!

Far more consequential is the proven method that is death by a thousand cuts–just ask Steven Lodge in Anaheim before he became little more than a Real Housewives of Orange County coat hanger! Anti-endorsement guides serve as our preferred contribution to this desmadre of a formal democracy. With SanTaneros heading to the polls to fill a seat on both Santa Ana Unified School District board of trustees and city council, here’s some anti-endorsements to take into the ballot box.

Remember: your vote is your voice–or something cliche like that!

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Phil Bacerra: A former planning commissioner, Bacerra lost to Roman Reyna last year in the city-wide council race for Ward 4. He already raised issues about Reyna’s residency in the Ward prior to the vote and sued him over it afterward. Rather than go to trial, Reyna resigned from the council in March prompting tomorrow’s special election. The Orange County district attorney’s office continued its own criminal investigation and Reyna pleaded guilty to election fraud. Sure, Reyna fudged his address on official documents and Bacerra faced mysterious dark money mailers, but the latter still earns a Weekly anti-endorsement.

Last time, Bacerra enjoyed the political support of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association when Griselda Govea accused him of domestic violence during their past romantic relationship. This time around, Bacerra counts a base of support willing to look past those allegations including building trades, Mike Harrah and gabachos so old they’re the original “usual suspects.”

The clincher, though? Mayor Miguel Pulido praising Bacerra’s “experience, leadership, vision and ethics” in a mailer. That’s an automatic anti-endorsement!

Jennifer Oliva: Where’s the Santa Ana POA’s money going in this election? An answer resides with arts commissioner Oliva. Campaign finance forms show her to be the beneficiary of $33,000 from an independent expenditure fund going by the handle “Santa Ana Families Supporting Oliva for City Council 2019.” Will another Latina surname on the ballot claw into votes for Beatriz Mendoza, the Democratic Party of Orange County’s endorsed council candidate? If it does, the #NeverPhil crowd has a strong candidate in urban planner Manny Escamilla to save the day tomorrow.

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David Benavides: What’s a former three-term city councilman doing running to become a Santa Ana Unified School District trustee in replacing former trustee and current councilwoman Ceci Iglesias’s vacant seat? It must be all about the kiddos, right? Jumping down from council to school board, Benavides is hoping voters buy that bit as opposed to doing board president Valerie Amezcua a solid favor in keeping teacher candidate Carolyn Torres off it. As executive director of KidWorks, a nonprofit in the city, he can offer a rationale for running but oversold his work as experience in the classroom. If Benavides wins, he would have to dash away dreams of running for mayor of Santa Ana next year lest he proves his detractors who call him a “career politician” right.

When asked by the Weekly what he would do in that event, especially since shuffling over campaign funds from a mayoral committee to run for school board, Benavides pledged to open up a re-election committee–a political spin on the ol’ “I call you in the morning” line if we ever read one!

Cecilia Aguinaga: The Santa Ana POA also has its manos in the masa of this race through Aguinaga to the tune of $60,000. That’s how much the “Community Leaders United” independent expenditure fund has spent on signs and mailers in support of the candidate. Why the big bucks? Probably to keep anti-gang injunction activist Torres off the board. An attack mailer positioned a colorful Aguinaga opposite her challengers in black-and-white photos altered to be unflattering. Benavides looked clueless.  Torres became frumpy-faced. Now, now now. What do we teach kiddos about bullying?

Keep it tuned to the Weekly for official election results!

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