There’s a considerable amount of speculation that longtime Santa Ana mayor Miguel Pulido just might sit this fall’s election to focus on the FPPC investigation into the Mayor’s questionable real estate dealings. I’ll believe it when I see it, but should Pulido drop out, there’s no shortage of candidates who seek to replace him.
Pulido’s only announced opponent is City Council member Roman Reyna, a candidate who will have strong appeal to Santa Ana’s young voters. Reyna’s two years on the city council’s “Santa Ana Spring” allow him to stake a claim in turning the city’s dire fortunes around. Santa Ana is the youngest city in Orange County with a median age of 29. Reyna’s focus his entire career is helping young people, and as mayor would be looking to Santa Ana’s future. Reyna is running on a platform of outreach to the city’s young people to turn them towards active and positive participation in their neighborhoods through improving technology access, better managed youth programs, and stronger mentoring programs which he believes will lead to a stronger city economy. Prior to his election to the city council, Reyna was a trustee for Santa Ana Unified School District. He’s currently an outreach specialist for The Wellness Center and previously ran the Santa Ana Youth & Government program as a volunteer for the YMCA. Reyna’s detractors are pushing a theme that he is a high school drop out, and this isn’t true; Reyna is a graduate of SAUSD schools and is currently pursuing a degree in human services from Springfield College. As an SAUSD student, Reyna struggled with dyslexia. But his positive outlook and energy seem to be capturing the attention of Santa Ana’s young voters.
If Pulido drops out, expect former Mayor Pro Tem and current Rancho Santiago Community College District trustee Claudia Alvarez to announce her candidacy. She won’t run for mayor as long as Pulido hasn’t declared his intentions. We haven’t heard a lot from Alvarez since she left the city council; a community college board doesn’t warrant the sort of attention a city council does and she’s been placed at the little kids table for RSCCD meetings. But when she was Mayor Pro Tem she’ll be best remembered for her anti-Semitic tirade directed at property owner Irv Chase and her repeated inability to understand that comparing a Jewish man to Hitler was offensive. Alvarez was more about dividing Santa Ana than uniting it. But she’d likely garner Pulido’s endorsement if it were a two horse race between her and Reyna.
State Senator Lou Correa is rumored to be a candidate for Mayor this fall regardless of what Pulido does. Pulido garners fewer and fewer votes for mayor in several of the past election cycles and a Correa entry into the race would likely spell his doom and just might cause every other candidate to drop out. Correa is immensely popular in Santa Ana and his biggest opposition would come from the medical marijuana advocacy groups. While there’s a lot of attention on Correa’s possible entry into the Mayor’s race, we think its likely a Joe Dunn-styled tease. Correa is more likely to pursue Janet Nguyen’s BoS seat should she defeat Jose Solorio for Correa’s old State Senate seat, or he’ll sit out two years and run for the seat after Nguyen is termed out.
The Monkey Wrench for this year’s election remains the status of Pulido’s FPPC investigation; should Pulido emerged cleared, he’ll likely run again. If the decision goes South for him, perhaps not. Regardless of what happens, this could be the most interesting Mayoral election in Santa Ana in a decade.