Valerie Amezcua Elected First Woman Mayor In Santa Ana History

By:Matthew Cunningham

Santa Ana voters made history this election, choosing Santa Ana school board member Valerie Amezcua to be the first woman mayor of Santa Ana in the city’s 153 year history.

“For all the women in his house tonight, and for your daughters and your granddaughters and their daughters – the first woman mayor!” Amezcua told a jubilant crowd of supporters on Election Night.

“But I will not be the last,” said Amezcua.

The mayoral race was open due to incumbent Mayor Vince Sarmiento’s decision to run for the 2nd Supervisor District seat; Sarmiento currently holds a narrow lead over Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen for that job.

Amezcua, a member of the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) Board of Education since 2014, faced a very competitive field of candidates. Her principal opponents, Sal Tinajero and Jose Solorio, were established politicians with long track records as elected officials.

Tinajero, a member of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) Board of Trustees, was also a former Santa Ana councilman and member of the SAUSD Board of Education.

Solorio was a former city councilman, Assemblymember and RSCCD trustee.

Amezcua has led from the first reported results, and currently holds a commanding lead.

The mayoral contest pitted moderate Democrats Amezcua and Soloria against Sal Tinajero, the standard bearer for the progressive-Left faction that took surprise control of the Santa Ana City Council in 2020. The decision by Sarmiento, a member of the left-wing council majority, meant progressive-Left candidates had to keep the mayor’s seat or else pick-off one of the three moderate Democrat incumbents running for re-election.

Law enforcement and public safety were a major focus of the campaign, given the hostility displayed toward law enforcement by members of the left-wing council majority.

Amezcua, who was was heavily supported by the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, campaigned on shifting city government away from ideological fads and returning its City Hal’s to its core purposes.

“We’re gonna go back to what you really want in this city,” Amezcua told supporters on Election Night. “We want to be safe, we want to be clean, we want to be able to walk, we want our kids to feel safe, we want to raise our children here, we want to have businesses here.”

“We want to be able to call the police and have enough of them to respond. That’s what this is about,” said Amezcua.

On election night, it appeared that all three council incumbents – Nelida Mendoza, Phil Bacerra and David Penaloza – had won re-election.

Bacerra echoed Amezcua’s back-to-basic campaign themes when he addressed supporters at the same Election Night gathering:

“The voters are sick of the rhetoric from out-of-town activists trying to say that we don’t need public safety, that we don’t need good housing policy, that we don’t need good labor policy and that our quality of life is just something that can be experimented with,” said Bacerra.

“And you know what? We said enough’s enough. We’re gonna get back to basics,” said Bacerra.

Bacerra and Penaloza are cruising to re-election. However, as ballots continue to be counted, Mendoza has been steadily losing ground, and her leftist opponent – ethnic studies teacher Ben Vazquez – now leads her by 14 votes. If that trend continues and Mendoza loses to Vazquez, progressives will continue to hold a 4-3 council majority.

Regardless, the election of Amezcua as Santa Ana’s first female mayor signifies the crossing of a significant historical threshold.


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