Miguel Pulido, mayor of Santa Ana for the past 20 years, this week moved a step closer to ending speculation about his political future when he picked up the paperwork to run for another term, according to city records.
For weeks, rumors have been flying about the political intentions of the 58-year-old mayor, who coyly has declined to disclose his plans. He has until August 8 to actually file as a candidate for re-election.
At the State of the City event in June, Pulido would not answer questions from reporters about whether he would seek re-election to the mayor’s office he first won in 1994. He initially was elected to the city council in 1986.
Others close to Pulido were unclear about the incumbent Mayor’s plans.
Art Pedroza, one of Pulido’s former campaign consultants, reported on his New Santa Ana blog on May 30 that Pulido might retire this year.
“I am hearing from several sources that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido is quite serious about defending himself as he is investigated for various issues stemming from campaign finances and real estate shenanigans,” Pedroza wrote. “He is telling friends that his priority is his legal defense.”
Councilman Roman Reyna and resident Mark Lopez also picked up papers to run for mayor.
Councilwoman Michele Martinez, Santa Ana resident Gilad Salmon, and Councilman David Benavides pulled paperwork for the city council.
Monday, the day Pulido picked up his papers, was the first day of the filing period for city candidates.
In 2010, Pulido and his family swapped a parking lot they owned for a house in Westminster belonging to Rupen James Akoubian, president of NAPA Orange County Auto Parts. The Pulidos received the house for $230,000 below fair market value, according to public records.
Later, according to the records, the mayor sold the house at a nearly $200,000 profit, and Akoubian was awarded a $1.35 million, no-bid contract to provide auto parts to the city.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Fair Political Practices Commission launched investigations following a Voice of OC investigative report on the series of transactions, which ethics experts have said could be a bribery scheme. Meanwhile, Pulido has started a legal defense fund and hired prominent criminal defense attorney Al Stokke, according to several sources.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Mark Lopez as a member of Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson's staff. We regret the error.
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