Vince Sarmiento is Santa Ana’s new Mayor but he won’t be able to get comfortable as he will have to run for reelection in just two years, in 2022. It is quite likely that the City of Santa Ana will be near bankrupt by then due to the COVID-19 crisis; the ridiculous police raise that Sarmiento himself voted for and the massive public employee pension and health benefit debt that is ballooning every year.
With the City of Santa Ana headed for troubled times it will be very difficult for Sarmiento to establish himself or accomplish much in two short years, which means there will be a cattle call to replace him.
Candidates who might throw their hats in the ring include:
- Former Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero – Sal crafitly ran for the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Trustees this November, seizing the seat that was vacated by Nelida Mendoza. Tinajero, a public school teacher, can now spend the next two years trying to improve the services and education at Santa Ana College. That will give him a solid platform to run on as our residents, young and mature, all need to enhance their skills and education at SAC. Tinajero barely lost the Mayor’s race to Pulido a couple years ago. The big negative for Tinajero is that he was the main force behind Measure X, the poorly-timed Santa Ana sales tax increase that resulted in our residents paying the highest sales tax in Orange County, despite our poverty levels.
- Former Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez. She is now a California State Commissioner and she could end up with a Federal appointment in the Biden administration. She is older and wiser now and will surely be emboldened by the success or our U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris. But will our residents remember her, several years after she left the City Council?
- Current City Councilman Phil Bacerra. Phil got elected a couple years ago and must run for reelection in 2022, but hold the presses. He and current City Councilwoman Nelida Mendoza both live in the same ward now, due to redistricting. Mendoza is finishing the term started by Ceci Iglesias, who was recalled. The City Council will have to redraw the Wards once again, and they will also have to account for the new information coming from the latest U.S. Census. If Bacerra has to face off against Mendoza it may prove difficult as his Ward is majority Hispanic and Bacerra is not a Latino. He is half-Filipino. Bacerra could just skip reelection and run for Mayor instead. He is popular in north Santa Ana and has good name recognition throughout the city. He would be an intriguing candidate as he knows how to get campaign donations from the developers.
- Juan Villegas was defeated in the November election, in Ward 5, but not by much. In two years you have to figure crime will be an even bigger problem in our city as Sarmiento and our new Millennial-heavy City Council will no doubt weaken law enforcement. Villegas, a longtime member of the O.C. Sheriff’s Department, could return to the political stage as a tough on crime candidate who is not beholden to the Santa Ana police union, the SAPOA.
I don’t think we will see former City Council Members Claudia Alvarez or Jose Solorio try for Mayor again, after both lost in this year’s mayoral race. Nor do I expect Ceci Iglesias to return. The same goes for Miguel Pulido. He could end up with a Federal appointment in the Biden administration, as could Solorio. They will have bigger fish to fry in 2022.
Could others run against Sarmiento in 2022? Absolutely! It is early yet. But rest assured Sarmiento will face stiff competition and could end up being a one-term Mayor.