Lots of laughs at Santa Ana candidates’ forum

Last night’s Com-Link candidates’ forum in Santa Ana turned into a comedy review as the dark horse mayoral candidate, Stanley Fiala, repreatedly cracked the audience up with a series of bizarre, unintentionally funny lines. Rather than recap everything that happened, I am going to present the highlights, and there are a lot of them!

Let’s start with the man most likely to get the least number of votes in November, Fiala:

  • For starters, he showed up in a poncho! He was seated next to David “I’m running in ward 4” Benavides, who squirmed all night as Fiala popped out his crazed statements.
  • In his opening statement, Fiala tried to say that we should love Santa Ana more than we hate Miguel Pulido – and the old guy moderating the event promptly misunderstood what he said and asked Fiala to stop attacking the other candidates. Fiala had no idea why the moderator was upset – and he asked to have more time put on the clock!
  • Fiala several times told the audience that even though he got 10,000 votes in his last campaign, he now wanted them to vote for Pulido instead of the “dark horse candidate.” I assume he was talking about himself? He also said that he plans to run again in 2008, when he will be rich due to a business venture involving overseas stocks.
  • When asked about neighborhood associations, Fiala replied “they are the KGB!” and unwittingly brought down the house.
  • Fiala also cracked everyone up, including the police officers in attendance, when he was asked about the issue of mobile home residents losing their homes due to high rents. His answer? “That’s why they have tires! Fill up the tires and have them go somewhere else!”
  • Fiala also called for open borders.

Miguel Pulido looked very uncomfortable sitting next to Sal Tinajero, and his comments were almost as funny as Fiala’s at times:

  • In his opening statement, Pulido asked that we consider where we have been in the past. He then ripped Sacramento and D.C. for not doing the job of funding our city. Huh? What are we, Puerto Rico? Pulido repeated this theme throughout the night, and it always sounded pathetic. He also asked us to “challenge the future.” But he admitted that we have potholes, shopping carts and grafitti. Nice of you to notice the obvious Pulido!
  • Pulido said, several times, that Santa Ana is #1 in affordable housing, and he does not want that to be the case. He even said that he wants Anaheim and Irvine to build more affordable housing. I am surprised he didn’t talk about building a new light rail system that could take our poor and homeless an dump them in the Irvine Great Park.
  • Pulido also asked viewers, repeatedly, to vote for his endorsed candidates, Jennifer Villasenor, David Benavides, and Tino Rivera. In his closing statement, not long after Tinajero referred to them as Pulido’s “puppets,” Pulido actually asked each of them to raise their hand as he called out their names.
  • Pulido also passed notes to Villasenor all night long – again showing who is in charge.
  • In his closing statement, Pulido slapped down Tinajero by asking why Tinajero did not stay on the school board – after all the Santa Ana Unified School District is the worst in the state. I’m sure that Santa Ana schoolteachers who live in our city are going to love that quote!

Thomas Gordon, candidate for Mayor:

  • When he was asked how he would deal with the immigration situation, and whether or not he would support what Costa Mesa is doing, with regard to their police force, Gordon immediately answered that our police should be handling crime, not federal immigration issues, and that getting involved with immigration would hurt their efforts to work with the community.
  • Gordon also had a good idea with regard to code enforcement – let’s put a camera on the streetsweeper, and it can take pictures of the license plates of cars that park in the street illegally on streetsweeping day, and then the city can automatically mail them a ticket. The money saved by not paying a code enforcement officer to follow the sweeper can be used to do more actual code enforcement.
  • Gordon pointed out the fact that our city has no movie theaters, and young people need more to do in downtown.
  • Gordon also nailed the city for allowing Markland industries to pollute a neighborhood, and for allowing Mike Harrah to pollute our downtown with asbestos.
  • In his closing statement, Gordon actually gave out his cell phone number and he asked residents to call him – prompting Benavides to copy him moments later.

George Collins, candidate for Ward 6:

  • Collins had a great idea regarding code enforcement – give the folks who follow the street sweeper a Nextel phone so that they can radio in any problems they see while they are driving around.
  • Collins also suggested that we make the Mayor and council positions full time jobs.
  • He also said that all the city council meetings should be televised, as should the other important committee meeings, such as the Planning Commission.
  • Collins also has an idea to create a Santa Ana TV station that will be broadcast on a low frequency so everyone can get it, not just those with cable TV.

Sal Tinajero, candidate for Ward 6:

  • He attacked Pulido all night long. He referenced the lack of libraries, the pot holes, the grafitti, etc. time and again. In his closing statement he pointed out the fact that Pulido’s endorsed candidates are puppets, and he talked about how we need advocates for change. I can’t disagree with that.
  • Tinajero also discussed his background as a schoolteacher – probably his greatest strength.

Michele Martinez, candidate for Ward 2; David Benavides, candidate for Ward 4; Jennifer Villasenor, candidate for Ward 6; Tino Rivera, candidate for Ward 2; Evangeline Gawronski, candidate for Ward 6; Nelida Yanez, candidate for Ward 4; Tish Leon, candidate for Ward 2:

I took a lot of notes last night, but I could not find a lot of great quotes from the above-referenced candidates. In terms of their overall performance, Gawronski was very polished and she answered every question thoroughly – she also capably defended the neighborhood associations after Fiala said they were communists. Villasenor speaks like the cheerleader instructor that she is. I found her to be too “rah-rah.” Rivera kept talking about how many folks have endorsed him, but he had no new thoughts to add to the mix. Benavides and Martinez were passionate, in different ways, but I was annoyed at the fact that Benavides is tied so closely to Pulido. That does not bode well. Yanez spoke from the heart, but she rambled and was not coherent on many of the issues. Leon reminded us not to forget the older residents in our city – and she was right about that.

Overall it was a fun night and I learned a lot about the candidates. I was disappointed by the questions that were posed to them – many important issues were left out. I do wish we had more forums coming up, but I think this was it for council and mayoral candidates. Now it is up to the voters…


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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.