Villasenor and Tinajero absent from inner city candidate’s forum in Santa Ana

The Santa Ana City Council candidate’s forum this evening, which was presented by Deborah Vasquez and her American Latino Voter Education fund, was well-attended, with a turnout of perhaps 80 residents. The forum was conducted in both English and Spanish, with a translator assisting.

There were two significant no-shows. Jennifer Villasenor was not there – and my sources tell me that she was in fact at a fundraiser in Orange for Dennis Bilodeaux, a GOP candidate for the Orange City Council. Apparently she attended that function with former Santa Ana Council Member and current OC GOP Central Committee member Brett Franklin.

Villasenor’s other Latino opponent for Ward 6 on the Santa Ana City Council, Sal Tinajero, was also absent from tonight’s forum. Apparently he called Villasenor in advance, found out she was skipping the forum, and so he decided to skip it too. However, another source told me that Tinajero worked late tonight at the school he teaches at.

The third candidate for Ward 6, George Collins, was there with his wife. She joined with my fellow blogger, Tim Whitacre, in videotaping the forum. The tape will run on the local cable access channel.

All the other council candidates were there. However, mayoral candidate Thomas Gordon was not allowed to participate, by Vasquez. She claimed there would not be enough time for Gordon to answer questions, but that seemed to be false, given that two council candidates were no-shows. Incumbent Mayor Miguel Pulido was also not there.

John Palacio and Cecilia Aguinaga were there as candidates for the Santa Ana School Board, but incumbent Audrey Noji arrived late and appeared to be quite flustered. Fellow incumbent Rosie Avila was in the audience, taking notes.

The candidates discussed a number of local issues, as Vasquez and her moderators posed the questions. I thought it was disingenous for David Benavides, candidate for Ward 4, and Tino Rivera, candidate for Ward 2, to talk about how they want to fix the streets, when their prime supporter, Pulido, has had twelve years to do so – and the results are pathetic.

Collins has a good answer regarding the streets. He said his wife came up with an idea to put motion detectors on the light poles, then they would be on only when needed, and the resulting savings in energy could be used to fix our potholes.

Rivera had a weird response – he said we need to fill up the Santa Ana jail with prisoners from other cities, and use that revenue to pay to fix our streets. Considering the fact that Santa Ana police are barely able to arrest taggers in our city, it would seen nuts to fill up our jail with outsiders. We need to fill it up with our own gang members, drug dealers, taggers, prostitutes and other criminals!

I wish that Tinajero had been there tonight, as he speaks great Spanish, and he would have been a considerable contrast to Pulido’s acolytes. But it was also nice to see Collins do so well, with his opponents missing in action. Collins picked up a lot of votes tonight.

Also, Garden Grove Councilwoman Janet Nguyen and 69th Assembly District GOP candidate Ryan Williams stopped by. Nguyen announced her endorsement of Thomas Gordon for Mayor of Santa Ana. Ironically, the Deputy Chair for the OC GOP in Santa Ana, Carlos Bustamante, is supporting Pulido, not Gordon. Considering that Gordon is endorsed by the OC GOP, and Pulido is a Democrat, Bustamante’s position is hard to understand. Nguyen is the Deputy Chair for the OC GOP in Garden Grove, and she is to be commended for backing her fellow Republican, Gordon, in Santa Ana. Perhaps Bustamante will follow suit. I won’t be holding my breath…

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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.