Santa Ana Mayor Vince Sarmiento has announced he will run for the newly-drawn 2nd Supervisor District, which includes all of Santa Ana.
“Our Central Orange County community needs an advocate and a champion,” said Sarmiento in his campaign announcement, in which he also claims to have “worked hard” to “address” the homeless crisis, health care, parks, and government transparency.
In his campaign announcement, Sarmiento stakes much of his campaign’s credibility on the fact that he is Hispanic, a Democrat, and mayor of Santa Ana. Sarmiento, an attorney, immigrated from Bolivia with his parents when he was a year old.
“The newly drawn District 2 seat in Central Orange County is over 62% Latino, has a strong Democratic voter advantage of 25.6%, and contains the entire city of Santa Ana, which makes up over 50% of the District’s population,” Sarmiento starts out his campaign announcement.
Sarmiento’s announcement was widely expected. Political observers rate him a formidable contender for the reasons Sarmiento touted, as well as his record of winning four straight elections citywide: three for Council in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and then Mayor in 2020.
In 2020, he led the slate of the new progressive, anti-law enforcement majority that wrested control of the Council from the more moderate, pro-law enforcement majority. The ballot title and bully pulpit of a mayoral post is certainly a strong post for any supervisorial candidate, as shown by Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley (D), Irvine Mayor Don Wagner (R), Fullerton Mayor Doug Chafee (D), and Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett (R) (and the latter two were simply rotating mayors whose colleagues made them mayor the year of their supervisorial election).
Sarmiento has long harbored supervisorial ambitions. In 2016, political insider widely expected him to challenge Republican Supervisor Andrew Do in the old 1st District (whose boundaries are very similar to the new 2nd District). Sarmiento took a pass, and his council colleague Michele Martinez ran and nearly beat Do in the solidly Democratic seat.
Sarmiento has allied himself with three progressive-Left councilmembers – Jessie Lopez, Johnathan Hernandez and Thai Phan – who have generally been hostile to law enforcement, especially in the cases of Lopez and Hernandez. Sarmiento has tried to straddle the divide, but as rising crime has become a top issue for voters, mayoral candidate Sarmiento’s political decision in 2020/2021 to align himself with the anti-police zeitgeist of the progressive base could come back to haunt this year.
The only other announced candidate is Garden Grove Councilmember Kim Nguyen, who announced her campaign last month. Nguyen ran for 1st District Supervisor in June 2020, finishing last in four candidate field with 15% of the vote.
District 2 Profile: Very Hispanic, Very Democratic
An explicit goal during the county map drawing process was ensuring there would be a majority-Hispanic supervisor – and the 2nd District is overwhelmingly so.
The demographic breakdown is as follows:
- 66.8% Hispanic
- 16.2% White
- 12.9% Asian
- 1.9% Multiracial
- 1.4% Black
It is also strongly Democratic in terms of voters’ party affiliations:
- 48.2% Dem
- 22.5% Rep
- 23.9% No Party Preference
In addition to serving as mayor, Sarmiento also serves on the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors, and served for six years on the Orange County Water District Board of Directors.
If Sarmiento is one of the top two vote getters in the June 2022 primary and advances to the supervisorial run-off, he would not be able to run for re-election as mayor of Santa Ana.