Beatriz Mendoza, a Santa Ana Unified school board candidate who works as an aide to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana), was appointed Tuesday to the Santa Ana Planning Commission.
Mendoza fills a vacancy opened July 6, when Sean Mill abruptly resigned after he was caught living outside the city.
Councilman Sal Tinajero, who is the nominating council member for the seat, recommended Mendoza for the position.
The council voted 5-0 for her appointment Tuesday, with Vincent Sarmiento and Angelica Amezcua absent. Mendoza was then sworn into office.
Neither Mendoza nor Tinajero commented about her or the appointment, other than a “Congratulations” from Tinajero.
Mendoza’s appointment comes ahead of what’s expected to be a contentious battle for control of the Santa Ana Unified School District, with three factions competing to gain a majority of the board seats.
She is on a slate of candidates supported by Democratic school board members John Palacio and Valeria Amezcua. They are being opposed by a slate of candidates supported by unions for Santa Ana Unified teachers; and a slate of candidates backed by Republican board member Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias.
Three of the five board seats – everyone but Palacio and Amezcua – are up for election in November.
Mendoza’s appointment Tuesday could prove helpful to her school board run, by allowing her to use “Planning Commissioner” in her ballot title and promote her commission role in campaign outreach.
Mendoza graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s in political science and has worked as a political campaign coordinator for local candidates for school board, city council, and mayor, according to her LinkedIn page.
She has also served as a staffer for state Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana), the U.S. Census, the Delhi Center, and most recently a field representative for Congresswoman Sanchez.
Mill, a controversial figure in Santa Ana politics, resigned from the commission after his wife discovered a private investigator outside her home in Riverside. She confronted the investigator, who reportedly revealed that he was looking into Mill’s residency and didn’t believe that Mill lived in Santa Ana.
The private investigator was hired by Santa Ana resident Thomas Gordon and Liberal OC blog publisher Dan Chmielewski, who long suspected that Mill was violating the city’s residency requirement for high-level officials.
With her appointment Mendoza is slated to serve the rest of Mill’s term, which expires in Dec. 2018, and possibly longer if she’s re-appointed.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.