Beatriz & Jennifer & Phil & MANNY! Profiles of the Santa Ana Council Candidates.

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Happy Halloween, SanTana!  Just in CASE you haven’t cast your votes yet in the special Council election, Zorro thought he’d write up a little profile of each of the four major candidates – don’t forget Tuesday’s the last day to vote!  Here at the Orange Juice we like Manny Escamilla the best and Phil “the Beaver” Bacerra the least … but check out Zorro’s profiles and make up your own minds!


Beatriz Mendoza

The first candidate I’ll profile is Beatriz Mendoza. Beatriz or “Bea” is a long time Santa Ana resident who has a good amount of political experience. She is currently a Victim Assistance Specialist at the Zero Abuse Project. She has also served as the chief of staff for California LULAC and also worked for different politicians including Joe Dunn and was on the Santa Ana planning commission. Beatriz is well known among local political circles and is trying her best to become part of the OC Dem political machine.

Beatriz has also run for office in 2016. She attempted to get elected to school board but finished dead last right under her friend, Bruce Bauer. Beatriz seems to have a decent deal of support, particularly from the Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) who endorsed her earlier this year. The DPOC has made some blunderous endorsements in Santa Ana, so I really don’t see that as a plus on their part.

When it comes to the issues, Beatriz prioritizes rent stabilization, homelessness, public safety, and response time. These are all cookie-cutter issues that nearly everyone is addressing in their platforms. I do believe that rent stabilization is a huge problem in Santa Ana and would like her to push for local improvements on the recent state law if she is elected. It would help to control increasing homeless problem. Her main angle is that of an advocate for women and children who have gone thru abuse. My guess is that she thinks this will give her an edge against Phil Becerra, who was accused of domestic violence by an ex-partner and subsequently had his Democratic Party candidate endorsement pulled during the last election.

The two also sparred earlier in the election regarding her candidate description. The two sparred over Phil’s challenge of her candidate statement. This was a cheap shot in my opinion, and Beatriz triumphed on it. If elected, I don’t see anything special coming from Beatriz. I believe she’ll be supportive of some progressive issues but I doubt she’ll take any political risks. In my opinion she will just be another cog in the machine.

Campaigning with Roman Reyna and David B.

Beatriz has an uphill battle in this race given her election record and money. A look into her expenditures reveals that she hasn’t raised as much money as her main opponents, Manny Escamilla and Phil Bacerra. She has a fair number of signs and banners around the city, but she doesn’t seem to have a large crew of folks putting them up or the money to pay for someone to do it for her. She’s also complained a lot on FB that some have gone missing or that she’s had to remove some from city property.  Aside from big busy streets like Bristol, Edinger, etc. you don’t see many Beatriz lawn signs on actual lawns. This is an indicator that she is not walking precincts very hard. I also haven’t seen any mailers from her or pictures of her walking precincts outside of the ‘Big Walk’ the Democratic Party had last week (though it looks like she’s been campaigning harder in the last couple weeks. Her Facebook page has events for phone banking and precinct walking.)

One thing that concerns me about Beatriz is her block rate on Facebook. She has a reputation for blocking anyone who disagrees with her. I expect open dialogue and civil discourse from a candidate, not a #blockingbeatriz. Anyone is free to do what they want with their social media but this habit of hers has given people pause. Will she shut out the public in the same way if she’s elected?

Like many of her opponents, she’ll also have to contend with a split Democratic vote in the election.  As of now the Republicans seem to favor Phil Bacerra and the Dems seem to be split between her, Manny, and Jennifer. Adding to the difficulty is that Republicans have come out in force during this election – as of the writing of this article Republicans have returned more absentee ballots than the Dems which should help Bacerra if anyone.


Jennifer Oliva

The young Jennifer Oliva is a Santa Ana Arts Commissioner, business woman, and part time lecturer at Cal State Los Angeles. It is unclear what business she runs but is likely a consultant.  She is a lifelong resident of Santa Ana and a Salvadoran-American, which is not common in Santa Ana. On the surface she appears to be a good candidate. She has a good education background, some political experience as a commissioner, and has roots in the city.

Jennifer’s issues are economic development, city infrastructure, and community outreach. I like her ideas of creating incentives for Santa Ana residents who want to open small businesses in the city and youth outreach. I haven’t seen any comments from her about the homelessness crisis, but then that’s a bigger problem in the Central and Downtown areas than it is in mostly suburban Ward 4. It is something I would like to see her address, along with more visible positions on development.

She is for the most part a political outsider. She does not have a whole lot of support from the political parties and other  traditional institutions, so at least she won’t have any quid pro qho attached to her actions if she’s elected. Jennifer does seem to have a good amount of support from residents. Her lawn signs have been seen on actual lawns unlike those of some of her opponents. She is actively campaigning her ward but hasn’t raised nearly the same amount of money Escamilla and Bacerra have.

Here is the HUGE RED FLAG on Jennifer Oliva. She has received support from the Santa Ana Police Association (union) in the form of an independent expenditure fund called, “Santa Ana Families Supporting Oliva for City Council 2019.”  This should alarm every voter regardless of political affiliation.  Santa Ana’s police have demonstrated they don’t care if they bankrupt Santa Ana as long as they get a raise. The Santa Ana POA are the biggest union bosses in Santa Ana and have shown themselves to be a ruthless entity with deep pockets in Santa Ana politics. The POA is using $10,000 to support Oliva. Political races cost money, but I do believe Oliva made a mistake on this. She is quoted in a recent article in the Voice of OC saying that she was unaware of the IE.  Anyone who receives support from the Santa Ana POA automatically loses my vote even if also they claim to advocate for youth.


Separated at birth? Phil Bacerra, and beaver.

Former planning commissioner Phil Baccera is hoping to shake off public humiliation and defeat from last year’s Ward 4 election.  Phil is a business owner who ran in the last election with the support of the Democratic Party. This endorsement was pulled after domestic violence accusations from an ex-partner surfaced. He was not legally convicted or even found guilty by an internal Democratic Party investigation; however the wifebeater accusations were serious enough to pull his endorsement.

After his decisive electoral loss, Phil filed a lawsuit accusing Roman Reyna of not living in the ward when he filed running papers. Reyna now has to pay $578,000 in restitution and is banned from running for office.  (This is what led to this special election we’re discussing.)

Phil is not a favorite among most Democrats or progressives, but the Republicans seem to like him just fine.  He was on the Santa Ana Planning Commission for 5 years – one of the main stepping stones for Santa Ana elected hopefuls. During this time, he built many relationships with small business owners who are now supporting him. He also enjoys the endorsements of the Firefighters and Building Trades council.

One thing’s for sure, Phil is campaigning hard to be elected. Walk down almost any street in Washington Square, Floral Park, or Park Santiago, and you’ll see plenty of Phil Bacerra lawn signs. This is an indicator that he is walking these neighborhoods hard. These areas are not in Ward 4, but they do have the highest historical voter turnout of almost all areas in Santa Ana. He is also paying for web advertising. He already has name recognition, although some of it is obviously negative and synonymous with domestic abuse among voters.

Count Chocula. Another possible window into understanding Phil?

Phil’s issues are also cookie-cutter issues. He says he wants to take on the homeless crisis, address parking issues, and bring “transparency “to city politics. His campaign literature also says that he wants to clear the homeless from North Santa Ana. The question here is: where would they go? Many of his critics argue that he is simply going to move homeless folks away from these well-heeled neighborhoods and into more working-class neighborhoods of central Santa Ana. In respect to transparency, I do commend him on launching the Reyna lawsuit even if it was mainly in the spirit of “sour grapes.”  (I am also no fan of Reyna.)

Aside from the fact he resembles a beaver, I don’t find anything funny about Phil. He has outspent his closest rival, Manny Escamilla, by almost double. He also has support from an independent expenditure fund called ‘Santa Ana Neighborhood, Public Safety, Business, Labor and Education Leaders Supporting Phil Bacerra for City Council 2019’. That PAC is made of funds from the California Realtors Association, Carpenter’s Union, and Plaster’s Union. That should alarm rent control advocates as these entities are historically pro-development, which is code for pro-gentrification. I don’t see a lot of his activity in the ward he is actually running to represent, but he has plenty of action in North Santa Ana. This is something to seriously question if you live in Ward 4. It should make you wonder whose interests he really cares about.


Manny Escamilla

Manny Escamilla is a first-time runner for political office and has made quite a stir both online and in the community during this City Council race. Manny has been an urban planner and archivist and has an intimate knowledge of the city’s inner workings. He is the only candidate who has worked directly for the city.

His campaign has been highlighted in the OC Weekly and is very heavily driven by social media and precinct walking. Manny’s social media campaigning is hard to ignore. He is clearly the most popular candidate online. If ‘likes’ were counted as votes he would be on his way to a landslide win. His Facebook has over 1000 followers and his Instagram page is over 1000. He reminds one of what Ned Flanders would look like if he were Mexican. His trademark sweaters and glasses make him instantly recognizable.

“Hi diddly ho neighborinos!”

He seems to be someone who is willing to understand how to work well with city entities as well as consituents to find common ground. Manny also has the clearest ideas on how to handle Santa Ana’s homeless crisis. His take on the homeless crisis makes common sense. Job placement, permanent housing, and increased services to get people back on their feet. It’s a lot better than Bacerra’s plan to push the homeless out of North Santa Ana into everyone else’s neighborhood. I like his idea about changing the rules for the Housing Opportunity Ordinance to make it more accessible. I believe the Dems made a mistake in not endorsing Manny as he is clearly sharper, better financed, and his campaign is better organized than Beatriz Mendoza’s.

In Zorro’s opinion, Manny is clearly the bigger threat to edge out Phil Bacerra, especially if Republicans vote his way. The Dems are split up and that doesn’t work for any of them.  Despite this being a non-partisan race, these things always come into play. Escamilla could very well win this election. He is walking precincts on a daily basis and his signs can be seen on lawns throughout the city, not just certain areas like Bacerra, or only on main city streets like Mendoza. If he loses it would be a shame for all of Santa Ana and I would love to see him run again.

About Zorro

Yes, Zorro is gay. Zorro is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10pm, a peasant without land, a gang member in Santa Ana, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a good government advocate in Anaheim. Zorro is all the exploited, marginalized, oppressed minorities resisting and saying `Enough'. He or she is every minority who is now beginning to speak and every majority that must shut up and listen. He or she is every untolerated group searching for a way to speak. Everything that makes power and the good consciences of those in power uncomfortable -- this is Zorro.