The Santa Ana City Council, in a move with long-term implications for a dais that changed by three members Tuesday, has a new ward boundary map.
Incoming council members Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias, David Penaloza and Roman Reyna replaced termed-out council members Michele Martinez, David Benavides and Sal Tinajero. On top of a worsening budget shortfall brought on mostly by rising police pension costs, the new council members inherited wards approved Dec. 4 by the former Council that wrapped up Tuesday night.
“What you’ve done is inconvenienced me and it would mean I’d have to seek reelection in two years … or I’d have to move out of my ward, my house that I’ve lived in for almost 30 years,” said Iglesias to the Council at its last meeting before the new members took office, in a last-ditch appeal against the map known as C3 that was approved by the Council to avert a $2 million lawsuit by advocates for the city’s west-end Asian-American community.
Under the new map, Iglesias must seek reelection against a potential challenger in her ward halfway through her first term in 2020; but if reelected, a partial term loophole would give her 14 years on the Council as opposed to the normal 12-year consecutive term limit. As of Tuesday, the Secretary of State didn’t respond to requests for comment on the legality of the loophole. The Santa Ana City Council has six members plus the mayor.
The map below is a Voice of OC hand-drawn map of the current map in consideration by the council. Click here if the map does not load. Click or touch each colored area to see the district number.
Another map the former Council considered, D3, was widely supported by members of the public over the last few months but would have placed Penaloza and Reyna in the same ward and pitted them against each other when up for reelection. The Council ultimately went with Map C3, which was introduced by Councilman Jose Solorio and now separates Penaloza and Reyna. The vote to approve the map was 5 – 1 with Mayor Miguel Pulido opposed and Councilman Vicente Sarmiento absent.
“The timing is just unfortunate and council members will have to live with this decision for many years,” Pulido said before the vote.
Santa Ana voters citywide elected Iglesias on Nov. 6 to represent Ward 6 on the current map, under a now-defunct “at-large” voting system. The redrawn map placed Iglesias in a new Ward 1 that will go up for another election in 2020, where this time only voters in that ward can elect their representative.
This means Iglesias, if she wants to stay past one term, has two options: run against a potential challenger in that ward in 2020; or if defeated, move to a ward that’s up for an election in 2022.
But Iglesias in this last election won all the precincts in her ward, according to data from the county Registrar of Voters, and it will, for the most part, maintain those precincts on the new map. If she moves wards, she risks inheriting other precincts she lost to opponents in November.
If Iglesias loses reelection in 2020, she’ll still remain on the seat in her “at-large” term until 2022, according to City Clerk Maria Huizar; during that period of time, there would be two members serving that ward. But if Iglesias wins the district election, she could add another four years to her current term and see as many as 14 years on the dais if reelected for two more. Council members in Santa Ana, under normal circumstances, are limited to 12 years.
When asked after the meeting whether or not she actually would relocate amid the Council’s decision, Iglesias told Voice of OC: “Four years — you know what? We’ll see what happens.”
The former Council came under scrutiny over the past few months for its apparent rush to approve a map using old census data before three of its members ended their terms Tuesday. Sarmiento is also on his last term but still has his seat until 2020, when a new federal census could provide new data and require more adjustments in the ward boundary lines.
But council members during discussion said the matter was out of their hands amid a legal settlement with Asian-Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA), which City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said after the meeting specifically mandates the map had to be approved before Dec. 11 and that the new Ward 1, which bounds the Asian-American community, go up for a district election in 2020 so the representative better reflects the ward’s electorate.
“The settlement agreement said that whatever ward had the largest Asian population had to go up in 2020,” Tinajero said before the vote.
“That’s the new lay of the land. Plain and simple.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC intern. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.