Anaheim City Council candidate Jordan Brandman last week promised to a prominent Latino group that if elected he would support a living-wage ordinance and moving to elections by council districts.
Brandman also promised to push for settling an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the city that demands a transition to a council districts electoral system whereby residents would elect only the council member who lives in their district.
Leaders of the group Los Amigos of Orange County hailed the promise to back living-wage requirements as “huge” for their largely working class community.
Many, however, expressed skepticism regarding Brandman’s credibility.
The candidate’s reputation with the group’s leadership was tarnished after what they said were a series of undelivered promises, despite being instrumental in electing him to the Anaheim Union High School District board of trustees.
Brandman’s promises came after Mayor Tom Tait and the Orange County Register endorsed council candidates John Leos and Lucille Kring. The endorsements have turned the election in Anaheim into a battle for the council majority. The slate backed by Tait essentially is opposing Brandman and Steve Chavez Lodge, public affairs director for Hill International. Both are backed by former mayor Curt Pringle.
Brandman said his visit to the regular Los Amigos Wednesday morning breakfast meeting was an attempt to restart dialogue with the group.
Brandman arrived at the Jägerhaus restaurant in Anaheim accompanied by Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The visit was originally scheduled for next week but was moved to Wednesday on short notice because of Sanchez’s travel schedule.
That Brandman didn't attend a meeting with constituents without being accompanied by a Latina political ally drew questions from Los Amigos members about his ability to represent the city’s residents.
Brandman explained that he would only attend with Sanchez because “we [Brandman and Los Amigos] have a distance in our relationship that resulted from a few issues at the school district.”
Los Amigos leaders said the distance was on Brandman’s end and that he stopped communicating with the group.
What a living wage ordinance would look like isn’t yet clear, but Los Amigos President Jose Moreno said he sees it requiring citywide wage-standards so that workers can afford apartments, put food on the table, afford health insurance and other basic amenities.
Meeting attendees also questioned Brandman on other pressing city issues. Moreno asked Brandman whether he believed that “police brutality” existed in some neighborhoods.
Brandman first reacted with shock. “Police brutality?” He asked in a befuddled tone.
The candidate then said that he has heard stories, but hasn’t “firsthand observed this.” He said that when on the City Council, he will have access to the police chief and police reports to make his judgment.
Some attendees criticized Brandman for relying so heavily on police officers’ version of the events.
Police brutality has become a top concern among many working-class Latinos in the city who have said that police officers profile and harass them. A fatal police shooting of an unarmed 25-year-old man earlier this year sparked protests that led to a downtown riot when protesters were not allowed into a City Council meeting.
“To say that I don’t know it’s happening means you’re not living in the community,” Moreno said.
Brandman said he wouldn’t have an opinion on a plan to consider forming a civilian police oversight commission until first forming council districts. The newly organized council could then tackle that issue, he said.
Others at the meeting noted that Brandman was backed by business interests that aren’t aligned with the Latino community, such as Disneyland and Support Our Anaheim Resort, an influential group largely backed by the resort. They said that it was difficult to read Brandman’s intentions.
“I don’t know where he’s coming from,” said Zeke Hernandez, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Santa Ana. “You know he comes from a group that is trying to get its bodies on council.”
Amin David, president emeritus of Los Amigos, asked whether Brandman would still support council districts if former mayor Curt Pringle — still a powerful force in the city’s political sphere and a Brandman supporter — tells Brandman to oppose them.
“Curt Pringle is a supporter, but I am my own man,” Brandman replied.