Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido angered a Santa Ana merchants group Tuesday night by skipping out on a scheduled debate with election challenger Alfredo Amezcua.
Pulido and Amezcua were the headliners of a council/mayoral debate at the South Santa Ana Merchants Association.
Moments before the debate was scheduled to begin, the crowd of about 50 members of the South Santa Ana Merchants Association was told that Pulido had cancelled at the last minute.
Two incumbent council members, Sal Tinajero and Michele Martinez, also didn’t attend. In fact, the only Santa Ana council member to show up was David Benavides, who is running unopposed.
The crowd was visibly angry at Pulido’s absence, something Amezcua seized on.
“This is a very special election. And I’m disappointed the incumbent is not here,” he said to a roaring applause. “This is a unique opportunity for us to tell you what we plan for the next year, the next 10 years. And once again, something else was more of a priority than you.”
“Once again, he’s neglecting his community,” Amezcua said after the event. “I was really looking forward to having him sit next to me and show our differences.”
Jorge Doffo, the merchants association president, said after the event that Pulido said he couldn’t make it because he had to meet with the U.S. Secret Service to prepare for a visit Friday by former President Bill Clinton who will be stumping for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.
That wasn’t a good enough excuse for many in the crowd.
Tuesday’s debate isn’t the only thing Pulido is giving the short shrift to this campaign season. His campaign website remains incomplete.
Click on “issues” you’ll get “coming soon.”
There’s also an interesting discrepancy on his website bio. On his campaign website, it reads that he’s “currently serving his fourth term as mayor.” Except his City Council biography reads that he’s “currently serving his sixth term as mayor.”
The rest of the bio on the city page and the campaign page are exactly the same.
He’s actually serving his eighth term as mayor (he was first elected mayor in 1994; the office has a two-year term).
At Tuesday’s event, Amezcua took the opportunity to hammer home his main campaign promises, which include an audit of every city department looking for fraud and waste. He also promised mayoral term limits and a more open City Hall.
Doffo expressed a broad sentiment among business owners that the city of Santa Ana is not only unsafe but has a very anti-business sentiment at the public counters of City Hall.
“My family asks me, Why we do have a business in Santa Ana?” Doffo said.
As the only City Council member in the room, Benavides defended the incumbent administration.
“Santa Ana as a city is not as bad as the media would portray us,” Benavides said. “We let the Register just cover the bad issues.”
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.