Anaheim’s District Elections: a Struggle for the Soul and Future of the City




anaheim district rallyAnaheim’s historical first district election has become not so much a process to remedy the inadequate presence of Hispanics in the local government, and to offer better representation of all neighborhoods, but a continuation of the fight  over the distribution of city‘s resources.

The Disney created group “Support Our Anaheim Resort Area” (SOAR) has blanketed the city with huge signs for their sponsored candidates. They insist that Disneyland, wealthy developers and hoteliers, and the Angel’s baseball team’s owner need city subsidies to conduct business in Anaheim in order to benefit the residents. The city council they’ve dominated thus far has fostered an unequal development of the material and social fabric of the city. Tourists coming to Disneyland and driving into other areas of the city, are surprised to see the other Anaheim.  And then if they go to the Hills, they think it is another town.

As many residents have concluded, to effectively support the tourism industry  the entire city has to become a world class destination. The resources have to be accordingly allocated, not mostly for subsidies and for resort oriented amenities such as the exclusive tennis club and the pompous ARTIC transportation center. Riots may not occur again soon, and areas like this one in East Anaheim may no longer be neglected :

“ …we wish to thank you for taking time from your schedule to visit our forgotten little area of Anaheim. Now that you have seen some of the existing problems, we ask for your advice. How can relatively small areas such as ours, move the city to address the following common sense improvement recommendations? Repeated meetings and correspondence with the City Council, Planning and other Departments in the past has not resulted in any meaningful change.

Shopping mall.  The City should work with the mall property RV Shoppingowners to develop a long-term revitalization plan. The shopping mall has become a hangout for homeless individuals who use the former Ralph’s breezeway as shelter from the elements…There is a lack of adequate retail within a reasonable walking proximity to the residents of the Lincoln/Rio Vista neighborhood.  It is especially disappointing to those of us who we grew up in this area, chosen to buy homes in the neighborhood to be close to our aging parents, but can’t allow our parents and children to walk to the shopping mall due to the lack of family friendly shops and the uncertainty of their safety.

Homeless Shelter: If the Anaheim (Kraemer) site is selected, make sure that a comprehensive homeless rehabilitation program, permanent housing and safety plan is implemented on a predetermined verifiable schedule. Implementation status must be reported frequently and no less that each calendar quarter…Address our neighborhood homeless lady problem. The police have been helpless to act. She needs mental healthcare.”

This is an excerpt of a letter that Rio Vista neighbors gave to Mr Vanderbilt, who is NOT a member of the resort-controlled council majority. He had met with some of us regardless Spitzer’s homeless shelter proposal . Copies were given to the entire council.

The battle for the soul and future of the city is crucial in districtMoreno Tait 3, where the leading candidates are both Democrats supported by prominent Republicans: Mayor Tait supporting Dr Moreno against Brandman and his now silent mentor, Curt Pringle. The resort has heavily financed Brandman and they oppose Dr Moreno, who if elected will  challenge their control of the city government. Their democrat PR person is questioning the support of Mayor Tait. Brandman has not distanced himself from Pringle, who in a pre-Trump move posted guards to prevent Hispanics from voting, and who has greatly profited from siphoning city resources through his lobbying firm.

This district election’s fundamental issue is how to invest in the future. The “good government” coalition and the people’s candidates’ goal is to stop constantly giving away city tax revenues, to use them instead to benefit the residents. The resort’s candidates are window-dressing some of the residents’ concerns, but they are not addressing the subsidies created imbalances as this requires confronting their financers.

Donna and Vern canvassing at Loma Vista Neighborhood

Donna and Vern canvassing at Miraloma Neighborhood

The task of making the city government accountable and serving all the communities depend on us electing non-SOAR/OCTax PAC  candidates, as most of them have a better understanding of what is needed to heal our city.

I hope that Donna Acevedo-Nelson or Mark Lopez will be elected in my district. I hope that Dr Moreno is elected, to prove that full participation of the neighborhoods can forge partnerships that bring significant progress to our city.

These words of Dr King, which I quoted in a post at the beginning of the districting process, still resonate:

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.