Santa Ana Councilwoman Lopez to Face Recall Election in November

Santa Ana Councilwoman Lopez to Face Recall Election in November

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Jessie Lopez speaks about a recall campaign against her at city hall in Santa Ana, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/18/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Santa Ana City Councilwoman Jessie Lopez’s recall election will take place Nov. 14, the council decided in a vote this week.
The council voted 6–0—with Ms. Lopez absent—on Aug. 15 to accept the registrar’s verification of the petition to recall Ms. Lopez, as well as to set the date for her recall election.
The campaign submitted the required number of signatures to trigger a recall to the city clerk in June, and the signatures were verified by the Orange County Registrar of Voters July 17.
Ms. Lopez’s support of rent control policies and her opposition to large police pay raises prompted the recall, according to the campaign’s website.
Recall proponents have cited Ms. Lopez’s support of exploring a “vacancy tax” on rental properties without tenants—as well as for a housing fee that would make it more expensive for developers to build residential housing in Santa Ana—as reasons for the recall.
They also cite Ms. Lopez’s support of a police labor union contract that did not meet the union’s pay raise demands and that also eliminated the city’s health retirement contribution to union members.
The council’s vote was unanimous because it is required to accept the registrar’s certification and set a date for the recall.
Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Jessie Lopez and Councilwoman Thai Viet Pham speak about recall efforts against them at the city hall of Santa Ana, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Jessie Lopez and Councilwoman Thai Viet Pham speak about recall efforts against them at the city hall of Santa Ana, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

However, Councilors Thai Viet Phan, Benjamin Vasquez, and Jonathan Hernandez said they opposed the recall claiming it is an effort by the city’s police union to “control” the council.
Ahead of the vote, Mr. Hernandez pointed out that the Santa Ana Police Officers Association was a major donor to the recall campaigns against both Ms. Lopez and Ms. Phan.
The status of Ms. Phan’s recall campaign is currently unclear, and recall proponents could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Hernandez also noted that the police union both endorsed and financially supported Councilors Phil Bacerra and David Penaloza as well as Mayor Valerie Amezcua during their 2022 campaigns, in which all three were re-elected.
“Part of why I cannot support this recall is because it is not about democracy. It’s about control and [getting a] majority,” he said. “They are trying to remove one to replace them with another that they can control.”
Mr. Vasquez agreed, adding that he thought the recall was “built on a lie.”
“They claimed that Lopez was responsible for increasing rent 15 percent when she actually fought for rent control,” he said. “They said that Ms. Lopez fought to defund the police, but every year, the police budget has gone up.”
But Mr. Bacerra called the other councilors’ remarks “fear-mongering” and said that the support of the police union does not necessarily mean councilors will vote a certain way.
“Being pro-public safety and being supported by the [Police Officer Association] does not automatically mean that any of us are going to vote a certain way,” he said. “I’m really disappointed in the narrative that I hear … tonight [that sadly vilifies] public safety when you’ve heard so many people … tonight say they want public safety, and they want our police to step up and do more … yet here we are trying to create a narrative that the police are the boogeyman.”
Councilors were not immediately available for comment.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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