One in an occasional series on the county's craziest political races…and while we don't endorse candidates, we can sure as hell tell you who's more pendejo than others!
Good ol' SanTana, the city that proved having Latinos running the city doesn't improve corruption, the place where progress is having said Latino pols gentrify poor Latinos out of existence, where much hubbub is being made that the long, long reign of Mayor-for-Life Don Papi Pulido is coming to the end because of community activism in this election…just like it was pronounced a couple of years back, and a couple of years before that, and a couple of years back…you get the quinceañera picture.
But is there a chance? Will los buenos finally take over the city? Can SanTana turn into a progressive's dream filled with community benefits agreements, kids graduating from high school, and nice neighborhoods where gabachos and wabs live in peace?
And the curandero says…¡no mames, güey!
This is the one that will draw the most attention, as the Don Papi is drawing a challenger in current councilmember David Benavides. If you believe David and his supporters, he's the toughest opponent Pulido has ever faced–but that's was said about Michele Martinez and Ted Moreno way back when. And while Benavides can count as supporters the majority of the SanTana City Council, the city's cops, firefighters, and employees, and even the Democratic Party of Orange County, he has a decided disadvantage–he's not Pulido, who only has to lift his pinkie to make the campaign money rain. And Pulido is a notorious dirty-tricks lover: remember how Martinez's brother was magically arrested near Election Day in 2008, and this fact was magically published in the Orange County Register? Let's just say expect a scandal to come out with Benavides–you heard it hear first.
In addition, Benavides faces a serious problem in that the only santaneros who want Pulido out are an ultimately small (though committed and awesome) group of activists; the majority of the city's wabs and gentrifying gabachos are either apathetic or think Pulido has been the stopgap that has kept SanTana from turning into Mexico, even though that train left 30 years ago. And there's the plant situation: running to challenge Pulido also are Segway lover George M. Collins, walking blob of hate Lupe Moreno, some wab named Roy Alvardo, and Miguel Angel Briseño, who's such an unknown that I originally thought he was my former student at Cal State Fullerton. Briseno and Alvarado will take votes away from Benavides, Collins from Don Papi, and Moreno from both. We wish Benavides well, but it doesn't look good…
SanTana is a ward city, so the three seats open this time around go by districts. Incumbent Vincent Sarmiento should win against nobody Estela Amezcua in Ward 1, so no real excitement there. Much better is Ward 3, where all the rich people live. Incumbent Busty Bustamante ain't running for reelection because he's an alleged groper, so Don Papi went back into his past and dug up former councilmember Brett Franklin. Franklin has said nice things about the Weekly in the past, so we won't be too harsh (see how easy it is to get a free pass from us, public officials), but SanTana doesn't need a retread. Angelica Amezcua (another Amezcua?) and Shane Ramon Barrows are the unknowns; current planning commissioner Eric Alderete is the chosen child of progressive Latinos; Charles Hart, of racists. But if we could endorse someone here, it'd be our favorite school board member EVER: Steve Rocco. This despite him being mad at me and leaving fliers at the Gypsy Den with my picture on them.
As for Ward 5: Karina Onofre has freaked out the city with her massive billboard off of Main Street, her vacant smile indicative of her politics; Roman Reyna, on the other hand, has long been known in SanTana as a youth advocate and currently sits on the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Trustees. I think he's Republican AND an evangelical, but we don't hold that against him–he's been good.
SANTA ANA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES
If there's any group of elected officials more ossified than this one in OC, they're no doubt holding court at Fairview Memorial Cemetery. Incumbent Rob Richardson has been bouncing around SanTana politics for nearly 20 years now, and has distinguished himself by doing jack shit. Incumbent José Alfredo Hernández has done the same, except it took him only one term to do that. A third seat is up because Reyna is running for council, and it's split between the relatives of SanTana politicos (Myriam Tinajero is the sister of councilmember Sal, and Valerie Amezcua is the daughter of former mayoral candidate Alfredo) an unknown (Robert Allen), and a verifiable liar: Cecilia Iglesias. Two years ago, she swore to me that she was for the DREAM Act; now, she plays footsies with Know Nothings, which ensures her defeat because you don't mess with DREAMers–look at what that got Loretta Sanchez. A la chingada with you, pendeja.