The Anaheim City Council races are a battle between Disneyland resort-backed candidates against underfunded, anti-resort subsidy candidates in an election year that could see the current resort-friendly council majority swing the other way.
Here’s the results, according to Election Night ballot counts from the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
- District 1: Resort interest-backed Jose Diaz pulled ahead of Councilwoman Denise Barnes.
- District 4: Resort interest-backed Avelino Valencia was ahead of Annemarie Randle- Trejo and Jeanine Robbins.
- District 5: Councilman Steve Faessel, who’s heavily backed by resort interests, was ahead of Sabrina Quezada and Kenneth Batiste.
So far, Disney has pumped $1.5 million into the races through the Support Our Anaheim Resort political action committee, according to the campaign finance filings. Disney gave the PAC money last year, long before the coronavirus pandemic hit and shut down Anaheim’s tourism-dependent economy.
In 2018, Disney pumped $1.5 million into the Anaheim City Council races to help get Mayor Harry Sidhu and Councilmen Jordan Brandman and Trevor O’Neil elected. The entertainment giant also spent some of that money to fight the minimum wage ballot initiative that boosted pay for resort area workers whose employers receive a city subsidy.
Sidhu, Brandman, O’Neil, Kring and Faessel have resisted calls for a $1 gate tax on Disneyland, Angel Stadium and the Honda Center this year.
Meanwhile, Support Our Anaheim Resort has spent heavily on the campaigns of Diaz, Avelino and Faessel.
Three out of the six district elected City Council seats are up for grabs this election. The mayor’s position is elected by a citywide vote and isn’t up for election until 2022.
Although Sidhu could face a recall election next year if seniors at Rancho La Paz Mobile Home Park gather enough signatures from registered voters in the city to put the question on the ballot for a special election.
The recall effort doesn’t just stem from Sidhu’s opposition to previously proposed mobile home rent control ordinances, said Rancho La Paz resident Lupe Ramirez.
It’s also the secret Angel Stadium negotiations that eventually turned into a land sale with a starting price tag of $320 million, which is being sold to a company headed up by Arte Moreno, the team’s owner.
After factoring “community benefits credits” — roughly $170 million to subsidize 466 units of affordable housing and a seven-acre park — the stadium sale price is now $150 million.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.