The woman who gained Facebook fame for chastising Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido for looking at his cell phone instead of paying attention to residents during a city council meeting is running as a write-in candidate for mayor, the Orange County Register reported this week. 

Laura Perez, a 29-year-old Santa Anita neighborhood resident, became upset at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting when she noticed that Pulido was not paying attention to young residents expressing concern about new development displacing them from the neighborhood.

Perez repeatedly asked Pulido what he was looking at, and wouldn’t tolerate the mayor’s reluctance to answer. Voice of OC posted a clip of the confrontation on Facebook that was viewed over 35,000 times. Dozens of commenters called on Perez to run for mayor.

From the Register article:

As a result, Perez filed her write-in candidacy statement Sept. 25 with the city clerk and turned in the necessary 20 valid signatures from registered Santa Ana voters. She now joins Mark I. Lopez and Councilman Roman Reyna in vying for a seat Pulido has held for 20 years.

“Social media can either work against you or for you. In my case, it worked for me,” Perez said.

It was during the Aug. 5 City Council meeting that Perez noticed the mayor was looking down while students and young activists voiced their concerns about whether a mixed-use development plan could displace homes in the Santa Anita neighborhood. It’s an area of town Perez has called home all her life.

“I hope you’re not (a) timekeeper. … You’ve done nothing but look down. I’m hoping you’re not looking at a stopwatch. What are you looking at?” she asked Pulido. “Please answer me.”

“I’m looking at you, please continue,” Pulido responded. 

Across town, Perez has been recognized as “the girl who stood up to Pulido,” she said. Perez, like many of her neighbors in the Westside enclave, is a product of the Garden Grove Unified School District. She graduated from Los Amigos High and plans to return to Irvine Valley College to eventually obtain bachelor’s degrees in sociology and business from UC Irvine.

“The average resident is my age,” she said.

“As a younger community, there’s a lot of activism going on and people portray that as something negative,” Perez said. “I think they should really sit down and see what their ultimate goal is. They have a goal. They’re not just trying to cause ruckus out there for nothing.”

To Perez, her newfound name recognition is a way to shed light on the Santa Anita neighborhood, an area that she says is often ignored by City Hall. For example, she said her requests for speed bumps to slow down speeding cars in her neighborhood have gone unnoticed. 

“Why not get my name out there?” Perez said.

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