Santa Ana’s latest round of election night results continued to show early leads for Vicente Sarmiento for the Mayor’s seat, Thai Viet Phan for the Ward 1 City Council seat, Jessie Lopez for the Ward 3 seat, and Johnathan Hernandez for the Ward 5 seat.

Three of these candidates — Sarmiento, Lopez, and Hernandez — are more or less favored among the most progressive-leaning political groups and activists in the city. None of the three are backed by the police union, one of Santa Ana’s largest political spenders that over the last four years has seen those it supports elected to the council.

Live election results thanks to a partnership with the Reynolds Journalism Institute. CLICK HERE to view live results for every Orange County race.

Whoever emerges victorious will oversee one of California’s densest metropolitan areas that’s become somewhat of a microcosm for nationwide debates: immigration and undocumented residents, police accountability and law enforcement’s priority in public spending budgets, affordable housing and homelessness, as well as open space and gentrification. 

It’s also the first time in 26 years that Santa Ana will see its first new mayor who isn’t named Miguel Pulido.

These results reflect all early votes cast up to Monday night. They do not include ballots cast in person on Election Day or mail-in ballots that arrived after Monday evening.

Election Day ballots are scheduled to be reported out in updates from county election officials Tuesday, starting at 9 p.m. In California, mail-in ballots can arrive in the days after the election and still count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day.

Whoever wins these seats this year will have a number of key issues facing their constituents to grapple with:

  • Activists and community leaders continue to call for a reassessment of policing in the city and the millions of dollars that law enforcement eats up out of Santa Ana’s budget, an issue that splits the City Council’s candidate pool.
  • The long-awaited land sale of one of Santa Ana’s last remaining open green spaces in a working class area could shape the region for decades, and it has in turn continued a debate over the availability of park space in a park-poor city.
  • A cornerstone affordable housing policy has just been overhauled to make it easier for for-profit housing projects to spring up or pass through, while concerns remain over the political role of developers and the need for rent control in one of California’s densest cities.
  • And it’s become clear, now more than ever, that the city’s street racing problem is literally a matter of life and death.

Nearly all the candidates have agreed the city is shouldering an undue burden of the county’s homelessness crisis and construction of shelters, while such lodgings have yet to spring up in other areas, namely south county cities.

Read more about this race in depth: Here Are the Santa Ana Council Candidates Heading into High Stakes Battle This November / Santa Ana Will Get Its First New Mayor in Decades: Here Are the Candidates

Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @photherecord. 

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