Santa Ana’s city clerk on Friday rejected a key part of the proposed ballot title for Jose Solorio, who is widely considered the frontrunner for an open City Council seat this November.
On Monday, Solorio designated himself as “College Trustee/Businessman” for the November ballot, despite resigning from his position as a college trustee on July 6.
Solorio had to resign from the Rancho Santiago Community College District because he wanted to move to Santa Ana’s Third Ward and run for the council seat being vacated by Angelica Amezcua.
In a letter to Solorio on Friday, Maria Huizar, Santa Ana’s clerk of the council, said he can’t legally use “College Trustee” in his ballot designation.
“After careful review and in consultation with the City Attorney, I have determined that the ballot designation does not meet the requirements of [state elections code] because do you did not hold the elected office of Trustee when you filed your nomination papers and [it] is not your current principal profession, vocation or occupation,” Huizar wrote.
“As you are currently employed as a professional and submitted the title of ‘Businessman’ you are not eligible to use the previously held position of Trustee.”
(Click here to read the clerk’s rejection letter.)
Huizar gave Solorio three business days to suggest an alternative ballot designation.
In an interview, Solorio said he’s working on new suggestions for his ballot title.
“Initially the Santa Ana city clerk had believed that the college trustee designation was fine, but now that she’s asked me to reconsider it, I am seriously considering other alternatives,” Solorio said.
“But at this point what really matters about my ballot designation is that my name will appear first on the ballot, and the name Jose Solorio is very well known around town,” he added.
Huizar’s determination came after a complaint from Patrick Yrarrazaval-Correa, an opposing candidate in the Ward 3 race.
“The more I thought about it…I just felt like I had to take a moral stand and say that you can’t say that you are something that you are not,” said Yrarrazaval-Correa.
His complaint centered not only on the trustee part of the designation but also the “Businessman” part.
In his candidacy paperwork, Solorio, who works full-time as a lobbyist and policy advisor, justified the “businessman” designation because he is a “business owner of Solorio Public Affairs and Marketing.”
But in his financial disclosure, he reported making between $0 and $499 over the past year from his public affairs firm, and between $10,000 and $100,000 from his policy advising and lobbying job at Nossaman LLP. The law requires that the “principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate” be used.
“It is widely known that Mr. Solorio is employed as a lobbyist for a law firm. That is his occupation, and anything else appears to me to dishonest,” Yrarrazaval-Correa wrote in his complaint.
Solorio stands by his “businessman” designation, saying his financial disclosure “is clear that I am a businessman by virtue of me owning Solorio Public Affairs and Marketing and being a senior policy advisor at Nossaman.”
Huizar did not rule on the “businessman” portion of his designation, which means that any challenge to that would have to be filed by the end of next week in Orange County Superior Court.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article misstated the name of Angelica Amezcua.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.