Editor’s note: Ahead of next week’s election, Voice of OC is publishing a series of candidate surveys for the various races. Click here to see all of the surveys.

Elections can be one of Santa Ana’s most transformative moments every few years. The last one saw big changes to the political makeup of the dais – one which subsequently swung more progressive. 

Since then the city’s enacted rent control and just cause eviction ordinances, tackled homelessness and service providers in town, and led key conversations on the role of policing in public safety in Southern California.

What happens after November? 

We reached out to candidates in all the council seats up for grabs. That’s wards 2, 4, and 6 – as well as the mayor’s office. 

Voice of OC reporters reached out to all 10 candidates and sent them a list of 25 questions, several of which were submitted by readers in response to a public invitation for questions.

Nine out of 10 candidates responded. Mayoral candidate Valerie Amezcua did not. Each was allowed up to 350 characters per answer, to keep the total length reasonable yet fair across the board. 

Below is the exact text each candidate submitted in writing for their answers.

Below are the questions we asked candidates. To jump directly to candidate answers from a specific council race in this city, click one of the following: 

Mayor | Ward 2 | Ward 4 | Ward 6

  1. What in your opinion is the biggest issue in your city right now? How would you address it?
  2. In recent years, Santa Ana has seen calls from community activists to reallocate police funding to community resources like libraries and parks, while the police union has called for more investments in officer pay. Amid this, a police oversight commission is expected to form later this year. Where do you stand on the role of policing in Santa Ana? And do you see a need to divest or invest further in police?
  3. Santa Ana has been a key focal point in the debate over housing and homelessness. Officials say they’ve done their fair share while calling out the city’s status as the county’s homeless “dumping ground.” As a result, officials have moved to push out homeless service sites like the Harm Reduction Institute, Micah’s Way, and the homeless Multi-Services Center on South Main Street, over code enforcement violations and public nuisance. Critics say those centers provide lifesaving help to those most in need. What’s your perspective on these efforts, and what’s your view of how Santa Ana should handle homelessness?
  4. Studies show that adequate open space in a city can positively impact the community’s mental health. Santa Ana is known for its open space deficit. And with so much development in town, finding new open space sites will in many cases require creativity. How would you approach the city’s parks and green space issue? What are some ideas you have for creating more?
  5. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?
  6. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?
  7. What is your position on the proposed development of Willowick Golf Course? Do you want to see housing built there, including affordable housing?
  8. What is your position on the proposed Related Bristol development that would have as many as 3,950 apartments, 350,0000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 250-room hotel? Do you want to see any changes? What mitigations, if any, will you insist upon to address additional traffic onto already-busy MacArthur Blvd. and Bristol St.? And how many of the units, if any, do you want to be affordable?
  9. What is your position on the proposed development at 2525 N. Main St.?
  10. What is your position on SB 1439, which passed in the Legislature and would restrict local elected officials from taking official action to benefit campaign donors within certain timeframes of accepting money?
  11. What are your plans to address homelessness in your city?
  12. What are your plans to address the housing crisis? Do you support more affordable housing? If so, what are your plans to increase it?
  13. What is your position on rental assistance and rent stabilization policies in your city to assist those who cannot afford or are at risk of losing housing?
  14. What are your plans for reducing traffic congestion in your city? And what, if any, changes to public transit would you seek?
  15. How do you define public safety? What’s your perspective on how the city can best enhance safety for the public? And what specifically would you do to enhance public safety?
  16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?
  17. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how your city spends its dollars?
  18. Do you believe your city should create additional public pools, libraries and community centers? Why or why not?
  19. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?
  20. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?
  21. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?
  22. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?
  23. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  24. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?
  25. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Here are their answers: 

Mayor

  1. What in your opinion is the biggest issue in your city right now? How would you address it?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Homelessness, cutting the red tape holding back Non-profits from self-sustaining and for-profits from existing while allowing community policing to address and push back against any individuals disturbing them( i.e. public intoxication, public urination, vandalism etc ).”

Sal Tinajero: “The biggest issue in our city is housing. Strengthening the HOO so that we have low-income housing built with new developments is important. Also, supporting rent control and strengthening just cause eviction policies in Santa Ana. We must address the houseless situation by demanding the county and surrounding cities step up so we all do our part.”

Jose Solorio: “I’m running for Mayor because I believe “A Brighter Future for Santa Ana” is still possible. Let’s work together to tackle homelessness and rising crime, but let’s also address the root causes. We can do both. More information at JoseSolorio.com/priorityissues.”

2. In recent years, Santa Ana has seen calls from community activists to reallocate police funding to community resources like libraries and parks, while the police union has called for more investments in officer pay. Amid this, a police oversight commission is expected to form later this year. Where do you stand on the role of policing in Santa Ana? And do you see a need to divest or invest further in police?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Policing should stand to protect and serve the people, anyone cop not doing so will be terminated dishonorably, and replaced to someone more worthy of already high pay. Protection of Property and the people rather than allow vandalism, theft, death, and stop enforcement of victim-less crimes, by default investments lower but policing improves.”

Sal Tinajero:  “We must restore the community’s trust in our police department. The answer is not more police, it’s better policing. An oversight committee will help rebuild trust while preventing costly lawsuits by errant policing that has cost our taxpayers millions. I believe we must work on proactive solutions to crime, like investing in youth and programs. “

Jose Solorio: “Let’s Make Santa Ana Safer: I’ve previously led efforts to reduce crime – we can do it again. For long-term effectiveness, we need to maintain strong police staffing levels, but also combine that with community programs that address the root causes of crime.”

3. Santa Ana has been a key focal point in the debate over housing and homelessness. Officials say they’ve done their fair share while calling out the city’s status as the county’s homeless “dumping ground.” As a result, officials have moved to push out homeless service sites like the Harm Reduction Institute, Micah’s Way, and the homeless Multi-Services Center on South Main Street, over code enforcement violations and public nuisance. Critics say those centers provide lifesaving help to those most in need. What’s your perspective on these efforts, and what’s your view of how Santa Ana should handle homelessness?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “I argue we handle this at a community level rather than the city or county level to in order to avoid the already existing, special interest contracts to build homeless facilities and pocketing of money by our leaders, instead have funding some from donations and the homeless who use the facilities . “

Sal Tinajero:  “We have to strike a balance between supporting organizations trying to be a part of the solution by helping houseless folks while at the same time not negatively impacting neighborhoods. Concurrently, we must not let NIMBYism dictate public policy. The County needs to step up and identify locations throughout OC that can provide services.”

Jose Solorio: “We need to advocate for and implement balanced solutions. The homelessness problem needs to be addressed by enforcing our anti-camping laws and partnering with the state, nonprofit and faith-based organizations to help us get homeless individuals into mental health and drug treatment facilities, effective shelters and job training programs. “

4. Studies show that adequate open space in a city can positively impact the community’s mental health. Santa Ana is known for its open space deficit. And with so much development in town, finding new open space sites will in many cases require creativity. How would you approach the city’s parks and green space issue? What are some ideas you have for creating more?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “I’d approach this abolishing all zoning to allow community funds or private developers to build green space or green paths or lease space to vendors in the park to pay for maintenance and expansion. One can also end code enforcement to allow homeowners to open business on their land to save space elsewhere. “

Sal Tinajero: “Santa Ana is a park-poor city and we must look for opportunities to change this issue, like ensuring the Willowick Golf Course, with its 104 acres of land becomes green space with affordable housing. Our young people and families deserve to have access to a better quality of life. I would also look into our public lots to turn them into parklets. “

Jose Solorio: “First, we need to make our existing parks safer and add more amenities to them (e.g., dog park areas, lighting, security cameras, park rangers). Second, as new major developments are considered, community benefits including recreational areas and parks need to be included on-site or near the developments, with local neighborhood association input.”

5. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “As long as taxes exist, immigrants can vote, our founders fought over “taxation without representation”. I do also propose, creating city citizenship for in-city election ,for those opposed or if taxes cease to exist. As long as they their great at the job or fill the position if no one steps up, then there’s no issue. “

Sal Tinajero: “The battle cry to the American Revolution was, “No Taxation Without Representation”. I believe that we need to examine this idea at our local level. If a person is a legal resident of the United States they should be allowed to vote for mayor, city council, school boards and local municipal issues. “

Jose Solorio: “I believe that the City of Santa Ana has bigger problems to address like homelessness and rising crime. As an immigrant myself, I also know that immigrant residents in Santa Ana are much more interested in fixing the broken federal immigration system than considering other symbolic ways to help undocumented residents. “

6. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Corrupt, a union left unchecked is like a government left unchecked, they’ll start to lie and get away with it. Lies that come at the expense of those they’re supposed protect and represent. Pay raises of those in the union should be dictated by it’s members as unions do, from when they first start. Push back will result in change needed. “

Sal Tinajero: “I am always going to do what is best for the residents of Santa Ana. Gerry Serrano is the POA President and he represents our officers. I believe in keeping dialogue open. We can agree to disagree but we must start by focusing on our commonalities and then addressing our differences. The Mayor must always keep an open mind and build solutions.”

Jose Solorio: “The City should have positive working relations with all of its associations, including firefighters, police officers and regular employees. The should be less focus on politics and more focus on addressing service needs for our residents. I plan to roll-up my sleeves and work with our City Manager to improve relations with all our employee groups.”

7. What is your position on the proposed development of Willowick Golf Course? Do you want to see housing built there, including affordable housing?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Either lease the land to develop and function or sell the land, but only under a unanimous yes vote by Santa Ana residents for all public land decisions. “

Sal Tinajero: “Willowick would be an amazing opportunity to build more housing, commercial and park space. I would propose creating a high level of affordable housing. We need park space and housing, my priority would be housing and parks for our residents to utilize.”

Jose Solorio: “We need to develop a local plan with neighborhood associations in that area, including Santa Anita Neighborhood. My preference is the addition of open space, recreational and sport amenities for local youth teams, and other improvements that would improve our quality of life in Santa Ana.”

8. What is your position on the proposed Related Bristol development that would have as many as 3,950 apartments, 350,0000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 250-room hotel? Do you want to see any changes? What mitigations, if any, will you insist upon to address additional traffic onto already-busy MacArthur Blvd. and Bristol St.? And how many of the units, if any, do you want to be affordable?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “I’d allow as long theirs no public funding and traffic mitigation is done by the developers. I want as many affordable units are financially allowed without public funding or federal reserve printing to avoid inflation. “

Sal Tinajero: “A project of this nature is excessive. I believe we need an environmental impact report so that we can make an informed decision on this project. I would like 15-20% to be affordable units, but the project must not create a burden on neighboring communities. “

Jose Solorio: “We need to develop a local plan with neighborhood associations in that South Coast Metro area of Santa Ana. The proposal is very new and large and we all need to see what would work well for that area, which hasn’t been upgraded in decades.”

9. What is your position on the proposed development at 2525 N. Main St.?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “No position yet, still trying to read the details, no position if it’s private property entirely.”

Sal Tinajero:  “I supported 2525 because the developer worked very hard to negotiate with residents of that neighborhood. The developer dropped his units from 497 to 256. That was a great concession but a handful of residents were committed to killing the project.”

Jose Solorio: “Now that the City Council has an updated General Plan designation for that site, which is professional office, that is what I support. That’s what the area’s neighborhood associations prefer also.”

10. What is your position on SB 1439, which passed in the Legislature and would restrict local elected officials from taking official action to benefit campaign donors within certain timeframes of accepting money?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “I don’t it would work as intended but a real solution would be separating money from government, ie ending the federal reserve, no centralized currency, and abolishing taxes to reduce available funds drastically and end loose budgets.”

Sal Tinajero: “I support it!”

Jose Solorio: “I support SB 1439 and any other measures to help us enforce the City’s anti-corruption and ethics laws.”

11. What are your plans to address homelessness in your city?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Cutting the red tape holding back Non-profits from self-sustaining and for-profits from existing while allowing community policing to address and push back against any individuals disturbing them( i.e. public intoxication, public urination, vandalism etc ). “

Sal Tinajero: “I believe we need to be proactive and create a second shelter east of the 55 freeway. We also must file a lawsuit against any city or agency who transports houseless individuals into Santa Ana. It’s time we fight back on that practice from other cities.”

Jose Solorio: “Let’s work together to tackle homelessness and rising crime, but let’s The homelessness problem needs to be addressed by enforcing our anti-camping laws and partnering with state, nonprofit & faith-based organizations to help us get homeless individuals into mental health and drug treatment facilities, effective shelters & job training programs.”

12. What are your plans to address the housing crisis? Do you support more affordable housing? If so, what are your plans to increase it?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Ending Zoning laws, abolishing property tax and all taxes entirely, replace taxes with a city-lottery, leasing public space, donations,. I’d also allow homeowners to run businesses at home to save space and allow construction. Abolish CEQA to avoid bureaucratic decade long delays.”

Sal Tinajero: “I want us to have a strong realistic plan to build affordable homes, “meaning you pay no more than 30% of your income for rent. I want to build on 80% of all vacant city owned land. We can also now build in commercial zones. I would explore all avenues to create affordable dignified housing.”

Jose Solorio: “Santa Ana is ahead of the curve on meetings its housing requirements. Through redevelopment of run-down motels, apartments and empty lots, the City could add additional some modest amount of new housing units. I believe Santa Ana and each City should have a diverse housing stock (low income, middle income, high income) for its residents.”

13. What is your position on rental assistance and rent stabilization policies in your city to assist those who cannot afford or are at risk of losing housing?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Rental assistance must be done voluntarily rather than taxation, borrowing of money, or printing. Rent Control only serves to decide which developments can stay and make money and who can’t and destroy smaller competition, allowing greedy developers to evict or stop maintenance under the excuse of rent caps, end prop. tax and rent caps instead . “

Sal Tinajero: “I fully support it!”

Jose Solorio: “I support rental assistance programs for renters and homeowners with real financial and/or medical emergencies. According to the OC Register, rents for the past year are up 15% so the City’s current rent control law is not working. “

14. What are your plans for reducing traffic congestion in your city? And what, if any, changes to public transit would you seek?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “All proposal stated before also serve in lowering car use and increase local transport (public transit, walking, scooters, bikes). In terms of public transit i’d allow private companies to operate and compete to open options and decrease delays. “

Sal Tinajero: “As a councilman I supported the creation of bike lanes for our residents. I also pushed to make bussing free to all Santa Ana students. I am eager to examine how the street car benefits our residents. I am a big proponent of creating a vibrant public transit system in our city. “

Jose Solorio: “I used to work at OCTA, so I look forward to collaborating with OCTA and residents and businesses to accelerate the addition of improvements to our City’s street and public transit systems.”

15. How do you define public safety? What’s your perspective on how the city can best enhance safety for the public? And what specifically would you do to enhance public safety?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Public safety is strong punishment for victim-based crimes and allowing residents to defend themselves when there is no police to help them. Addiction, getting sick, buying a gun, or minding your business isn’t and should be a crime. “

Sal Tinajero: “The public should feel safe and protected when an officer arrives. We need a citizens oversight committee to work with the Santaneros and the police to have open dialogue about the best approach to police in all of our communities.”

Jose Solorio: “I value the public safety of our all our residents, businesses and guests. I’ve previously led efforts to reduce crime – we can do it again. For long-term effectiveness, we need to maintain strong police staffing levels, but also combine that with community programs that address the root causes of crime.”

16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “No, unless built by private developers using private funds, ending local regulations against business or work incentivizes localization rather than reliance outside of city borders. “

Sal Tinajero: “Yes. I supported a plan for bike lanes back in 2016”

Jose Solorio: “I would analyze the success (or failure) of the current protected bike lanes before deciding what to do next.”

17. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how your city spends its dollars?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Stop spending money that is taxed, borrowed ,or printed and any surplus should be used to pay off federal and state tatxes of residents until the state and federal government stop stealing, borrowing, and printing money. Any money left spent on anything unless voters push back. “

Sal Tinajero: “We need to improve our quality of life. I want park attendants working in the evening because that is when we use our parks. I want mental health experts responding to domestic dispute calls. I want to subsidize our community sports so all kids can afford to play.”

Jose Solorio: “We need to work together to tackle homelessness and rising crime, but let’s also address the root causes. We can do both. That’s where we need to focus our dollars.”

18. Do you believe your city should create additional public pools, libraries and community centers? Why or why not?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “If spent with moeny that isn’t stolen, borrowed or printed on strong majority agreed plans on public land. “ 

Sal Tinajero: “Yes, I learned how to swim at Memorial Park. As the former national teacher of the year I can say that we are in need of four more city libraries. Also, community centers are key for seniors to congregate. I want to maximize our resources by partnering with our local schools and colleges.”

Jose Solorio: “The City should conduct a true citywide survey to see what services our residents and businesses really need.”

19. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Not enough, but looking in the right direction when city meetings started recording, recording must be expanded on elected officials behind closed doors.”

Sal Tinajero: “I believe that we have come a long way in the last ten years when the subject of transparency arises. I helped move the Sunshine Ordinance when I was on the council. It was the most expansive transparency policy the city had ever enacted.”

Jose Solorio: “The City has been improving with their new website enhancements. With respect to the police department, the effort I led previously to make all our officers use body worn cameras (which has reduced Officer involved shootings by about 90%) has been a blessing. We need to maintain that program and honor Public Record Act requests.”

20. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Publish all documents, details, cost, arguments, and install body cameras and mics on myself and elected officials.”

Sal Tinajero: “We need all elected officials to be questioned when conflicts of interest arise. First, I would lead by example and consistently remind my colleagues about our obligation to be transparent. Second, I would ensure that all council members have a copy of the Sunshine Ordinance. “

Jose Solorio: “As part of our citywide survey of services needed, we should also ask them about this.”

21. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Yes, 1 week before at latest public input must be done with a balanced budget and allow proposed offsets and bill details .”

Sal Tinajero: “Yes, as a council member I spearheaded translation equipment in our council meetings. I was the lead on the Sunshine Ordinance. Public input is much higher than ever before but we need to make city hall more inviting. I would support removing metal detectors from our council meetings.”

Jose Solorio: “The City already post agendas with more than three days notice, we should maintain that practice and seek other preferences from residents.”

22. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “Real but can be fixed quickly overtime through free market energy production in-state rather than outsource. Plans include solar, batteries, and charging on public space. Leasing public space to energy sources, having cities voluntarily subsidize energy, and work with other cities to allow a power plant to open .”

Sal Tinajero: “Climate change is real and during my time on the council I voted to switch our vehicles from gas to electric. I would rely on science to help our community be safe and thrive.”

Jose Solorio: “I support the City’s climate action plans and would like to re-open that discussion and receive additional input from residents and businesses.”

23. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “None so far .”

Sal Tinajero: “I support having our city fleet to utilize hybrid and electric vehicles. I would also give incentives to increase solar panel use. I am open to learning the best practices to implement a city wide program.”

Jose Solorio: “As mentioned previously, I support the City’s climate action plans, including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and would like to re-open that discussion and receive additional input from residents and businesses.”

24. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “From third parties and, yes. From Trump, No, not enough votes to overturn at best “

Sal Tinajero: “Not a chance. It was won by Joe Biden!”

Jose Solorio: “No.”

25. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Valerie Amezcua: (Didn’t answer)

Jesse Nestor: “I accept the results of this election.”

Sal Tinajero: “Yes”

Jose Solorio: “Yes. Yes.”

Ward 2

  1. What in your opinion is the biggest issue in your city right now? How would you address it?

Nelida Mendoza: “High crime, which is partially due to the addicted and mentally ill homeless individuals. We provide wrap around services for rehabilitation centers, mental health treatment facilities and shelter for families. If we reduce our homeless population, the crime rate will also decrease. The County of Orange must collaborate to address this issue.” 

Benjamin Vazquez:  “Affordable Housing”

2. In recent years, Santa Ana has seen calls from community activists to reallocate police funding to community resources like libraries and parks, while the police union has called for more investments in officer pay. Amid this, a police oversight commission is expected to form later this year. Where do you stand on the role of policing in Santa Ana? And do you see a need to divest or invest further in police?

Nelida Mendoza: “Both issues are important. Community and police resources. Investing and balancing in both areas will enhance quality of life in Santa Ana. Funding for more parks and libraries results in youth engagement, which means young people are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors. Investing in more police officers will ensure safer communities.” 

Benjamin Vazquez: “A police oversight is long overdue. We need to have the oversight committee have subpoena and investigative powers. The police need not be involved to homeless calls where no crimes are being committed. Police need to be held accountable for equitable service across all of Santa Ana. We will not solve our problems by arresting our way out.”

3. Santa Ana has been a key focal point in the debate over housing and homelessness. Officials say they’ve done their fair share while calling out the city’s status as the county’s homeless “dumping ground.” As a result, officials have moved to push out homeless service sites like the Harm Reduction Institute, Micah’s Way, and the homeless Multi-Services Center on South Main Street, over code enforcement violations and public nuisance. Critics say those centers provide lifesaving help to those most in need. What’s your perspective on these efforts, and what’s your view of how Santa Ana should handle homelessness?

Nelida Mendoza:  “I am in favor of providing wrap around services to our homeless population. The organization that is adequately prepared and properly licensed to provide such specialized services is welcomed. In addition, such facilities should be located in an area that is not disruptive to a residential neighborhood”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Santa Ana needs to have its own health department and take its fair share of money from the county to better serve us. “

4. Studies show that adequate open space in a city can positively impact the community’s mental health. Santa Ana is known for its open space deficit. And with so much development in town, finding new open space sites will in many cases require creativity. How would you approach the city’s parks and green space issue? What are some ideas you have for creating more?

Nelida Mendoza: “Buy up small parcels of land and create neighborhood “pocket parks”, such as we did with Pacific Electric Park. Another option is to require new housing projects or other business development to commit a park or other open space for the surrounding community. Such park to be maintained perpetual by the developer. “

Benjamin Vazquez: “Green spaces are important and need to be added as land becomes available to the city. We built Pacific Park when land was available with the McFadden project. Now we have the trolly, if we can build a green corridor that would be amazing.”

5. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?

Nelida Mendoza: “I oppose any proposed policy that goes against the United States Constitution. It is my opinion that someone who has gone through the expense and effort to be a resident should be given priority in serving on city commissions. “

Benjamin Vazquez: “Democracy and a cities living standard goes up when more people are involved. I agree with adding non citizen voting. Same goes true for having undocumented residents serve on our commissions.”

6. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?

Nelida Mendoza:   “The city has a professional relationship with SAPOA & Gerry Serrano. That relationship will continue to be professional. SAPOA is not just one person, but many brave men and women in blue weather sworn or non-sworn. I strongly support our police officers, as they are the people who will risk their life to save yours and keep your family safe.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “We need to vote candidates who will finally stand up to Gerry Serrano and the incumbents are not that group. We need to be strong and put our city needs over the POA President who has been running amuck in our city for too long. With Gerry’s threat to burn down the city and having a city manager fired to get rid of the police chief is wrong. “

7. What is your position on the proposed development of Willowick Golf Course? Do you want to see housing built there, including affordable housing?

Nelida Mendoza: “The City of Garden Grove has decided not to sell Willowick Golf Course. Thus, there is no proposed development at this time. Santa Ana has already met its requirement for low-income housing, however, I am supportive of a multi-use plan for Willowick and hopefully it goes back on the market soon.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I would love to see a thriving community filled with parks, commercial and yes, affordable housing. We are lacking housing for Santsneros. Multiple families are pushed into one home and this is unacceptable.”

8. What is your position on the proposed Related Bristol development that would have as many as 3,950 apartments, 350,0000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 250-room hotel? Do you want to see any changes? What mitigations, if any, will you insist upon to address additional traffic onto already-busy MacArthur Blvd. and Bristol St.? And how many of the units, if any, do you want to be affordable?

Nelida Mendoza: “I cannot provide an answer to this question. A formal proposal has not been submitted to the city. My opinion at this time will jeopardize future vote.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “We are behind on affordable housing in Santa Ana almost thirty years. Pulido used to say why should Santa Ana build for poor and neglected his people for years. Now we hear the incumbents and Valeria Amezcua touting the speech. “

9. What is your position on the proposed development at 2525 N. Main St.?

Nelida Mendoza: “I cannot make a comment at this time because a formal development proposal has not been submitted to the City of Santa Ana”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I would love to see mixed housing on this site. “

10. What is your position on SB 1439, which passed in the Legislature and would restrict local elected officials from taking official action to benefit campaign donors within certain timeframes of accepting money?

Nelida Mendoza: “I support a policy that provides for elected officials to be transparent in every ethical sense. “

Benjamin Vazquez: “I in complete agreement with this bill. “

11. What are your plans to address homelessness in your city?

Nelida Mendoza: “Currently I have a team that is in the process of analyzing areas where homeless encampments pop up to determine other actions we can take to reduce homelessness. Santa Ana already provides wrap around services for rehabilitation centers, mental health treatment facilities and shelter for families.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “We need to creat our own health department to better serve the city and keep this federal dollars serving Santa Ana as they seem fit. “

12. What are your plans to address the housing crisis? Do you support more affordable housing? If so, what are your plans to increase it?

Nelida Mendoza: “I support a program that provides adequate housing for our low-income residents. We should realize though that Santa Ana is a very dense city already. Thus, development will meet resistance in some areas. In building low-income housing, we also need to address parking. The housing crisis is a statewide issue.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “We need to use available city land and offer discounts to developers to build affordable housing under a covenant. I would additionally do the same to allow folks the ability to buy condos if owner occupied. “

13. What is your position on rental assistance and rent stabilization policies in your city to assist those who cannot afford or are at risk of losing housing?

Nelida Mendoza: “Santa Ana’s rental assistance and rent stabilization policies is very new. At this time, there is no evidence that this policy will benefit the low-income tenants. I would have recommended that we do the study first, look deeply at the pros and cons, and analyze long-term financial expense to manage the program.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I am completely in agreement with rent control, 68% of Santa Ana is under harsh burden on rent, while Santa Ana has the 10th highest rent in the country. I teach the students in Ward 2, this school has 27% of its children listed as homeless. So yes for rent control. “

14. What are your plans for reducing traffic congestion in your city? And what, if any, changes to public transit would you seek?

Nelida Mendoza: “The City of Santa Ana is already working on bringing programs to reduce traffic congestion. Some of those programs are the traffic circles, the Main Street planters to reduce speed, and the speed bumps. Santa Ana encourages use of public transportation. Residents will soon be able to use the trolley that will result in less cars on the road.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Our families are asking for more and faster bus routes. We need to let all students ride free to create a culture of using public transportation. “

15. How do you define public safety? What’s your perspective on how the city can best enhance safety for the public? And what specifically would you do to enhance public safety?

Nelida Mendoza: “Public safety is living comfortably in your home without fear of intruders; taking walks without constantly looking over your shoulder; enjoying our parks without encountering homeless individual on our parks and sidewalks.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Public safety is the well being of children and families. The more we invest to their success the better we will be. Rent control is a good start for healthier families. We need to also invest in youth to keep them from busy and positive. The youth summer job program has been a big success in our city and we need to expand that. “

16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?

Nelida Mendoza: “Yes. I do support systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout my district, which is a program that is already taking place. To measure the success of this program, the city would need to analyze how many residents are using the bike lanes on a regular basis.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I would love to see protected bike lanes like we have on Edinger. Again we need to support the culture of bike riding for its use to reduce traffic and be safer for bicyclists. Whenever we expand a street or on our biggest streets we need to include protected lanes. “

17. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how your city spends its dollars?

Nelida Mendoza: “The city has been doing a great job in allocating funds to address important issues. We’re reducing homelessness and providing services to our youth, senior citizens and public in general.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “We need to be more efficient on how we run the police department. Let’s look at specialized units that are antiquated or not serving our needs. “

18. Do you believe your city should create additional public pools, libraries and community centers? Why or why not?

Nelida Mendoza: “The city is already working on more libraries. The most current example is the tremendous renovation of our main library. I do support building more community centers because this is one way to bring our residents together. Senior citizens are also a segment of our population who benefit from using our community centers. “

Benjamin Vazquez: “The city of Santa Ana is a young city. We need to support the youth and give them spaces to thrive. We currently have two libraries in Santa Ana, Anaheim has eleven. We have one library per 170,00ppl. Cities our size have one library per every 40,000people. We are way behind in serving our community. “

19. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Nelida Mendoza: ” The City of Santa Ana holds its elected officials to the highest standards of transparency. At this time, the city is doing extremely well in areas of keeping its officials transparent. Many policies in place consist of checks and balances to measure transparency. “

Benjamin Vazquez: “I think we need more forums from our elected officials and have better dialogue than just the city council meetings. “

20. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Nelida Mendoza: “The City of Santa Ana is already practicing transparency in various ways. In addition, elected leaders are open to constituents. I make myself available to my constituents and hold office hours regularly.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I think we need more forums from our elected officials and have better dialogue than just the city council meetings. “

21. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Nelida Mendoza: “It would not be productive to post agendas any earlier. This is because the various departments may not have enough time to prepare their item. Thus, it may delay items from being posted and business decisions may take longer implement. The public already has input in budget decisions.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I would like agendas to be posted a week in advance. “

22. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Nelida Mendoza: “I do believe our world is suffering and climate change is a very serious consequence. On a personal level, I do all that is possible to reduce waste that includes but is not limited to recycling, using less disposable items and frequenting “green” businesses.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “I think climate change is a challenge for us now. We need to take heavy strides snd do our part to change the trajectory we are on. “

23. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Nelida Mendoza: “Eventually, the city should have an all-electric vehicle fleet. Encourage biking to work and use of public transportation.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Encourage Environmentally Friendly Employee Practices. … Making Environmentally Friendly Changes in Local Government Facilities. … Foster Clean Commute Initiatives.”

24. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Nelida Mendoza: “I do not have enough facts to make an informed opinion.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Nope “

Note: After the publication of Mendoza’s initial answer above, Mendoza requested the opportunity to clarify her answer. We gave her 350 characters to do so. 

Mendoza:No.  The election was definitely not stolen.  President Biden and Vice President Harris were legally voted in through our democratic process.  I was appointed by  Congressman Correa to be the delegate representing the 46th Congressional District.  I was present in our capitol casting the official ballot for President Biden and Vice President Harris.   Additionally, each of the legal challenges presented were lacking in evidence and thus FAILED.  

25. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Nelida Mendoza: “Yes, I do believe that our election process is free and fair. I would accept the results, win or lose, as certified.”

Benjamin Vazquez: “Yes”

Ward 4

  1. What in your opinion is the biggest issue in your city right now? How would you address it?

Phil Bacerra: “Addressing impacts of homelessness. Most homeless on our streets need services to help them overcome drug addiction and/or mental health issues. We need the County to provide those services equitably throughout OC. We also need dangerous drugs that the homeless use to self-medicate removed from our streets.”

Amalia Mejia: “The most troubling issue is the lack of affordable housing and homelessness, which are caused by a shortage of homes and lack of resources. No one should spend more than 30% of their salary on housing. underutilized lands that can be renovated and include our housing aspect is one strategy to address housing and homelessness. “

2. In recent years, Santa Ana has seen calls from community activists to reallocate police funding to community resources like libraries and parks, while the police union has called for more investments in officer pay. Amid this, a police oversight commission is expected to form later this year. Where do you stand on the role of policing in Santa Ana? And do you see a need to divest or invest further in police?

Phil Bacerra: “Our city needs to invest in more highly-trained police officers to maintain low response times to emergencies and to improve response times to other calls for service. A safe Santa Ana will lead to a thriving Santa Ana with more investment in resources for community services that our community can safely enjoy.”

Amalia Mejia: “The Santa Ana police department should be held accountable and be transparent to the public. I favor the establishment of a police oversight commission that includes individuals with diverse lived experiences. We must redefine safety and stop criminalizing poverty. By investing in parks, programming, and libraries, we will address crime and safety.”

3. Santa Ana has been a key focal point in the debate over housing and homelessness. Officials say they’ve done their fair share while calling out the city’s status as the county’s homeless “dumping ground.” As a result, officials have moved to push out homeless service sites like the Harm Reduction Institute, Micah’s Way, and the homeless Multi-Services Center on South Main Street, over code enforcement violations and public nuisance. Critics say those centers provide lifesaving help to those most in need. What’s your perspective on these efforts, and what’s your view of how Santa Ana should handle homelessness?

Phil Bacerra: “We need the County to provide those services equitably throughout OC, and not just primarily in Santa Ana.”

Amalia Mejia:  “Since the county finances public and mental health, the city should engage with the county to solve homelessness. Also, the city must collaborate with leading groups through cooperation rather than coercion. We need permanent solutions that meet the different unhoused population.”

4. Studies show that adequate open space in a city can positively impact the community’s mental health. Santa Ana is known for its open space deficit. And with so much development in town, finding new open space sites will in many cases require creativity. How would you approach the city’s parks and green space issue? What are some ideas you have for creating more?

Phil Bacerra: “We need to make parks accessible to more of the community. Some neighborhoods have accessible parks, while other neighborhoods are park-deficient. We need more joint-use agreements with the various school districts that serve Santa Ana, and we need to creatively think about large and small pocket park opportunities.”

Amalia Mejia: “There is an opportunity to engage existing parks by constructing a water play zone to combat the heat and increase the number of parks in park-poor districts. And to ensure that future developments include open green space.”

5. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?

Phil Bacerra: “This proposal’s legality was not studied adequately prior to being introduced at a Council meeting. This issue is currently with the appellate court. I do not support enacting laws that conflict with the United States Constitution or the California State Constitution.”

Amalia Mejia: “I support both efforts to allow non-citizens vote in city elections and for undocumented people to serve on city commissions. They are part of the community and have the right to participate in policies that have a direct impact in their lives.”

6. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?

Phil Bacerra: “I will continue to treat the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its leadership the same as I treat other unions and their leadership that represent City employees. “

Amalia Mejia: “Particularly with recent pension difficulties, accountability and transparency are required.”

7. What is your position on the proposed development of Willowick Golf Course? Do you want to see housing built there, including affordable housing?

Phil Bacerra: “I will evaluate proposals when they are formally presented to the City of Santa Ana. The current owner has not selected anybody to proceed with submitting a formal application to the City of Santa Ana that would propose to change the current golf course use of the site. “

Amalia Mejia: “Affordable housing is required to meet demand while preserving green space. The high market rates are the result of a shortage of available housing. I believe that the best use of the land will ultimately be determined by the community’s residents. “

8. What is your position on the proposed Related Bristol development that would have as many as 3,950 apartments, 350,0000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 250-room hotel? Do you want to see any changes? What mitigations, if any, will you insist upon to address additional traffic onto already-busy MacArthur Blvd. and Bristol St.? And how many of the units, if any, do you want to be affordable?

Phil Bacerra: “In order for me to participate in the public hearings on this proposed project, I cannot prejudge the facts about this project. If I, or anybody else on the City Council, does that, it could invalidate the Council’s decision on the proposed project.”

Amalia Mejia: “In a perfect universe, all units would be affordable. I’d want to see additional information regarding retail options, parking spaces, and unit affordability. Any development should be for the city’s current residents to relieve overcrowding issues. We must also consider expanding bus routes to reduce traffic and automobile usage.”

9. What is your position on the proposed development at 2525 N. Main St.?

Phil Bacerra: “There is no active application for development for 2525 N. Main Street at this time.”

Amalia Mejia: “The plan at 2525 N Main exemplifies the ongoing contradiction between the location of house construction and the voices heard in council. The city needs housing, and one method to ensure that it is affordable is to make a specific percentage of units affordable for sale price in accordance with the HOO and to give local applicants preference.”

10. What is your position on SB 1439, which passed in the Legislature and would restrict local elected officials from taking official action to benefit campaign donors within certain timeframes of accepting money?

Phil Bacerra: “I support SB 1439. This legislation is very similar to the rules in the City Charter that candidates for Santa Ana City Council were required to follow prior to voters adopting Measure Z in 2018. “

Amalia Mejia: “I think it provides a more transparent process. “

11. What are your plans to address homelessness in your city?

Phil Bacerra: “Santa Ana should build its fair share of housing units with on-site services to serve homeless individuals with drug addiction and/or mental health issues. Santa Ana also needs to reduce the dangerous drugs available on our streets to the homeless that use them to self-medicate.”

Amalia Mejia: “Already, the city dispatches mental health professionals to homeless calls. However, not every homeless person has mental health issues. We need to hold other cities accountability for leaving citizens without resources. We need to work with the county if we want to offer continuum of care and permanent housing. “

12. What are your plans to address the housing crisis? Do you support more affordable housing? If so, what are your plans to increase it?

Phil Bacerra: “The housing crisis is a statewide issue, not isolated to any single city. Santa Ana already houses more people per square mile than almost every other city in California. Santa Ana needs to provide diverse housing options, including opportunities for first-time homebuyers.”

Amalia Mejia: “With the recently certified amendment to the housing element, we anticipate that our city’s zoning regulations will also be brought up to date. There are two housing issues: the first is affordability, and the second is stagnating wages. Existing residents deserve both well-paying jobs and affordable housing. We need use the HOO funding to build.”

13. What is your position on rental assistance and rent stabilization policies in your city to assist those who cannot afford or are at risk of losing housing?

Phil Bacerra: “Santa Ana’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance cannot accurately claim to stabilize the cost to rent in Santa Ana when the costs to implement this ordinance are still unknown. The adoption of this policy before understanding the cost of its implementation was irresponsible.”

Amalia Mejia: “I support rental assistance and rent stabilization policies. “

14. What are your plans for reducing traffic congestion in your city? And what, if any, changes to public transit would you seek?

Phil Bacerra: “Santa Ana, like any city in California, cannot keep adding housing units and not experience significant increases in traffic congestion without significant investment in public transit from the State government. Santa Ana needs more transit infrastructure. “

Amalia Mejia: “Instead of the Orange County streetcar, we need more regular bus services. At bus stops, we need improved illumination for visibility and protection from the sun and rain.”

15. How do you define public safety? What’s your perspective on how the city can best enhance safety for the public? And what specifically would you do to enhance public safety?

Phil Bacerra: “Residents and stakeholders should be able to call the police and receive courteous, professional, and effective service within a reasonable amount of time. I would add more highly-trained police officers to be able to respond to the volume of calls for service that our city generates.”

Amalia Mejia: “Public safety must consider the safety of all community members, regardless of their postal code. Public safety also entails a sense of protection from law enforcement. I feel the city needs to improve its pedestrian street illumination. There is a need for programs and resources that target prevention. Currently we do not prevent nor solve crime. “

16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?

Phil Bacerra: “Yes. I have advocated for and will continue to advocate for more protected bike lanes in Santa Ana.”

Amalia Mejia: “Yes, but without increasing traffic congestion that is already an issue. “

17. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how your city spends its dollars?

Phil Bacerra: “I would focus on making sure that our City provides excellent essential municipal services before spending City funds on non-essential items.”

Amalia Mejia: “We need more tranparency and reallocation of resources towards parks, education, housing, youth and senior services. “

18. Do you believe your city should create additional public pools, libraries and community centers? Why or why not?

Phil Bacerra: “Yes. Ward 4 has wonderful parks, but it does not have libraries, community centers, or pools. I will work to improve our parks to add those amenities.”

Amalia Mejia: “Certainly, there are not enough parks, pools to cool off in, or community facilities for youth and the seniors.”

19. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Phil Bacerra: “I think that our City’s Sunshine Ordinance is a model for other cities to follow. I recently introduced revisions that would further clarify how Sunshine Ordinance-required community meetings for developments are conducted and that the presentations are recorded and posted on the City’s website.”

Amalia Mejia: “Currently, we can view the approved budget, but we need more information on how the departments utilizes their resources.”

20. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Phil Bacerra: “I am currently the only Santa Ana City Councilmember that consistently hosts Monthly Community Office Hours. I have done that since I was elected, and I will continue to host them, as well as continue to make myself available to my constituents.”

Amalia Mejia: “Increasing office hours in the communities and working with current wellness centers to gain participation. “

21. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

Phil Bacerra: “Our City posts meeting agendas a week in advance of meetings. It is substantially more than almost all other jurisdictions, and I think that is sufficient to balance informing the community with being able to take action in a timely manner. “

Amalia Mejia: “I do support following the Brown Act. One way to increase input is by ensuring meetings are in the evening for working people and that we also seek the communities that are often voiceless. “

22. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Phil Bacerra: “Santa Ana has an adopted Climate Action Plan, but we need to take action to implement it. In our recent General Plan Update, I advocated for the hiring of staff to assist with implementing environmental justice-related actions stated in the plan.”

Amalia Mejia: “I believe that climate change is vital and environmental issues in Santa Ana such as lead and high asthma rates need to be solved. We need to install solar power to help alieviate local impact and increase public transportation. “

23. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Phil Bacerra: “Santa Ana needs to work to secure resources for enhancing our transit infrastructure to reduce the use of automobiles and the production of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Amalia Mejia: “The increased of green space, more public transportation such as bus routes. “

24. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Phil Bacerra: “No!”

Amalia Mejia: “No.”

25. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Phil Bacerra: “Yes and yes.”

Amalia Mejia: “I do believe I am participating in a free and fair election process. I would accept the results of the election. “

Ward 6

  1. What in your opinion is the biggest issue in your city right now? How would you address it?

David Penaloza: “Homelessness being caused by Mental Health Issues, and drug addiction. I am looking forward to the State’s care court program which will give cities like Santa Ana the tools needed to address these issues. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Homelessness is the biggest issue in our community. It impacts everything from the safety of residents, economic activity, crime rates, and overall ability for the City to move forward in a positive direction. I provide a more detailed response on how to broaden the burden with other parts of the County.”

2. In recent years, Santa Ana has seen calls from community activists to reallocate police funding to community resources like libraries and parks, while the police union has called for more investments in officer pay. Amid this, a police oversight commission is expected to form later this year. Where do you stand on the role of policing in Santa Ana? And do you see a need to divest or invest further in police?

David Penaloza:  “Santa Ana’s Police oversight commission was initiated as a council directed item brought forward by myself in the Summer of 2020 and It’s exciting to see it take shape. I’m proud that during my tenure we’ve hired more police, and also created our own Library department and four new parks got funded. We need to invest in all of the above, and can. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “We can be more efficient with existing resources used by the police department so they can focus on reducing violent crime and investigating repeat offenses. A Public Safety Oversight Board will ensure that our tax dollars are delivering real results while holding bad officers accountable.”

3. Santa Ana has been a key focal point in the debate over housing and homelessness. Officials say they’ve done their fair share while calling out the city’s status as the county’s homeless “dumping ground.” As a result, officials have moved to push out homeless service sites like the Harm Reduction Institute, Micah’s Way, and the homeless Multi-Services Center on South Main Street, over code enforcement violations and public nuisance. Critics say those centers provide lifesaving help to those most in need. What’s your perspective on these efforts, and what’s your view of how Santa Ana should handle homelessness?

David Penaloza: “All of the centers mentioned above have brought an array of problems to our surrounding neighborhoods. Santa Ana is NOT an island. Until, other cities (South County) start offering similar services and doing their fair share, I will continue to push back. Santa Ana residents shouldn’t have to carry the county’s burden. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: These orgs are making a positive impact on the people they serve. Unfortunately concentrating these orgs in a low income Latino area serves as a rationale to transport additional people into Santa Ana. The City should focus on working with or suing to change the County’s “Catch elsewhere and release in Santa Ana” booking procedures.

4. Studies show that adequate open space in a city can positively impact the community’s mental health. Santa Ana is known for its open space deficit. And with so much development in town, finding new open space sites will in many cases require creativity. How would you approach the city’s parks and green space issue? What are some ideas you have for creating more?

David Penaloza: “We need to require any new developments in town to include an open space component on their development site regardless of the size or scope of their project. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “We can annex land along the Santa Ana Riverbed, turn the Riverview and Willowick golf courses into parks, seek a rails-to-trails program for the line along standard, enable Privately Owned Public Space (POPS), and negotiate to adjust boundaries for additional open space along the Santiago Creek and riverbed above Memory lane.”

5. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?

David Penaloza: “We are preempt by the US and State Constitution to let non-citizens vote and Judges have been throwing out similar laws throughout the country. In regards to undocumented residents serving on our city commissions, I am fully supportive and happy we did it during my tenure. Our residents contribute so much and should be allowed to serve. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Several practical issues remain. Including how a local voting registry would work, the funding, and ballot security. This likely would require a statewide vote to revise the CA Constitution. We should let Santa Ana voters weigh in on allowing all adult residents to vote. Santa Ana has 79,000 taxpayers without representation.”

6. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?

David Penaloza: “The way I would manage the relationship is to always have others in the room when meting with any Union or its leadership. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I respect the role that unions play in ensuring the rights of our local workers. As such I believe it is important to maintain a respectful and professional relationship with Gerry Serrano and the POA. I disagree with the tactics that they have employed under his leadership and feel that his actions are damaging the City and the POA membership.”

7. What is your position on the proposed development of Willowick Golf Course? Do you want to see housing built there, including affordable housing?

David Penaloza: “Willowick Golf Course is nearly 100 acres of underutilized space. There is enough space to creatively build all of the above with the Lions Share going to open space.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I support the building of a Public Polytechnic University serving the State’s growing needs for an educated STEM workforce or the creation of a world class park with a botanical garden to provide additional open space for local residents and tie Santa Ana into the regional tourist economy. A site the size of Willowick deserves a much bigger vision.”

8. What is your position on the proposed Related Bristol development that would have as many as 3,950 apartments, 350,0000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 250-room hotel? Do you want to see any changes? What mitigations, if any, will you insist upon to address additional traffic onto already-busy MacArthur Blvd. and Bristol St.? And how many of the units, if any, do you want to be affordable?

David Penaloza: “No development application as an incumbent has come before me, and have not really looked at the entire scope of the project. DO not have an opinion yet. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I filed a records request 22-1564 to learn more about the project. In general I support placing inclusionary units on site and encourage the construction of moderate-income for sale units to increase home ownership opportunities. South Bristol would benefit from a BRT line and the expansion of 3 potential bike paths leading the area.”

9. What is your position on the proposed development at 2525 N. Main St.?

David Penaloza: “There is currently no proposed development or application for 2525 N. Main Street. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I am not aware of the current status of the lot and the latest revisions to the initially proposed projects.”

10. What is your position on SB 1439, which passed in the Legislature and would restrict local elected officials from taking official action to benefit campaign donors within certain timeframes of accepting money?

David Penaloza: “I think this is fantastic and much needed throughout the state. In Santa Ana, I am proud that we’ve had similar laws for years, including the $250 limit. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I support this law and we should have done something similar here years ago. I support moving to publicly funded elections and believe that regardless of party affiliation we should only support candidates that will limit the role of money in politics. Campaign finance reform is not a partisan issue, it is about trust in government.”

11. What are your plans to address homelessness in your city?

David Penaloza: “My plans are to work collaboratively with our new county supervisor, hopefully one with a healthcare background to address the region’s homeless crisis. I’m confident the state’s new Care Court is going to give city’s the resources they need to be able to address people living on our streets that are suffering mental health and drug addiction. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “The shelter system has failed and should be replaced with emergency placement vouchers. Legalizing ‘affordable by design’ options such as Single Room Occupancy and co-op units could also make it easier for workers to afford their rent. Upcoming CARE court legislation will also give communities new tools to help chronically homeless individuals.”

12. What are your plans to address the housing crisis? Do you support more affordable housing? If so, what are your plans to increase it?

David Penaloza: “Under my tenure, Santa Ana has been a leader in addressing the housing crisis. I am supportive of more housing across all levels of income, not just affordable. My plans to increase housing throughout the county, mainly the south, is to continue the work we’ve been doing on the OCHFT and making sure funding and resources is distributed equally.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “We must allow affordable housing types such as residential hotels, co-op living quarters, townhouses, & multiplexes. We also need to establish locally owned municipal housing with a public vote in 2024. The new general plan emphasizes placing new housing along major transit corridors and within underutilized commercial parcels.”

13. What is your position on rental assistance and rent stabilization policies in your city to assist those who cannot afford or are at risk of losing housing?

David Penaloza: “During the COVID pandemic, I was so proud to lead the effort in assistance to our residents. Over $27 MILLION in rental and direct assistance. If the funding from the feds was there again, I’d be supportive once more. Rent stabilization policies should only be considered when they do NOT come at a cost to tenants like the current council did. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I support both, however the cost of rental subsidies make it difficult to pursue as a meaningful strategy. Rent stabilization is an emergency measure that is saving local residents upward to $400 a month within the first 2 years. However the downsides need to be mitigated with a robust construction effort.”

14. What are your plans for reducing traffic congestion in your city? And what, if any, changes to public transit would you seek?

David Penaloza: “Development plans must come with adequate parking spaces and a robust traffic mitigation plan. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Universal Bus Rapid transit on all major arterials is necessary to create a usable and reliable bus network in the region. We need to push OCTA and the State to set aside funding specifically for arterial improvements that create center loading bus only lanes across what are defined as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ arterial roads.”

15. How do you define public safety? What’s your perspective on how the city can best enhance safety for the public? And what specifically would you do to enhance public safety?

David Penaloza: “Public Safety needs to be defined by our residents and what it means to them. Everyday, I talk to hundreds of residents and they all say the same thing. “They do not feel safe walking in their city anymore.” I hear from residents that they want increase police checks and drives through their neighborhoods. Increase in Parks, Libraries, & Police. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “A person being able to feel safe going about their daily lives. Low levels of crime, safe walking/pedestrian infrastructure, and general maintenance all contribute to a sense of safety. Tackling the homeless crisis, addiction, better traffic management, reduced vehicle speeds, and better lighting across the city would help.”

16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?

David Penaloza: “Almost a decade ago, the city began a system of protected bike lanes. Although hardly ever used by our residents, it’s important that they are there as an option. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Yes, I believe that bike infrastructure is needed throughout the city but I disagree with specific instances of implementation.”

17. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how your city spends its dollars?

David Penaloza: “Every city department should be streamlined to be more efficient which will naturally reduce the bills every month. This will leave extra funds to be able to be invested back into our parks, libraries, pools, and code enforcement.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “We should in-house capacity and follow a strategy of flexible staff deployment. I would also prioritize positions that increase economic development. We can also expand the number of enterprise fund opportunities managing public assets like parking & housing and create a municipal wealth fund.”

18. Do you believe your city should create additional public pools, libraries and community centers? Why or why not?

David Penaloza: “Absolutely! Santa Ana only has two libraries. Under my tenure, we created the city’s own library department and expanded library hours. We’ve also selected the Delhi Center/Park area for the city’s 3rd library branch! All of the above are important for the health and growth of our community. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: Yes, but they must be staffed adequately so that these centers are open. The Logan Center needs to be rebuilt, a library added at Delhi, the reopening of the McFadden Library, and flexible community spaces created in accordance to the needs identified in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

19. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

David Penaloza: “Santa Ana has been a leader in Orange County on how to be transparent with the public that we all serve. Even during official meetings, we are one of the only agencies that still allow are residents more than 3 ways to participate in the public process. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “We are doing relatively well. I just wish that more work was done to share ongoing routine discussions on specific issues in forums that are not the City Council meetings. Regular working sessions, and points of discussion/deliberation via online platforms would be interesting to implement.”

20. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

David Penaloza: “The City of Santa Ana is overall very transparent and accessible to the public, however I am sure there is room for improvement. I would try to change the way Elected Officials submit 700 forms. Currently we have two councilmembers that refuse to disclose their source of employment income. I will make it so that 700 forms are required quarterly “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I believe that we should focus on a ‘default open’ approach to public information, such that all redirects should have access to non-sensitive or confidential information that is produced by the City. Additional online social media outlets could be useful to have more of a detailed understanding as to where elected officials are coming from.”

21. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions?

David Penaloza: “Yes. Santa Ana has been a leader in public access and input throughout the pandemic and even before the pandemic. Agendas should be posted about 5-7 days before the meeting. Which we are already doing in Santa Ana.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I was supportive of the additional time that is currently given to the agenda at Santa Ana. It has provided interested members of the public additional time to review and organize around issues as well as to review in greater detail implications.”

22. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

David Penaloza:  “Climate Change is real. The most pressing issue today is the severe water drought our state is in. We should look into incentivizing residents to build drought tolerant landscaping and conserving water. “

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “It is a very serious issue that is likely to only get worse. We can start by funding the local climate action plans and finding additional ways to implement the climate emergency resolution adopted by the City Council. Funding the staff needed to implement these programs remains a challenge.”

23. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

David Penaloza: “Creating more city wide charging stations for public access for residents to charge EV’s. A big hesitation factor I hear from residents wanting to go electric is the lack of charging stations throughout our city.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “I believe in all of the above strategies as we figure out ways to reduce and hopefully reverse the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted locally. Our per capita emissions are relatively low but we could always do better.”

24. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

David Penaloza: “No.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Absolutely not.”

25. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

David Penaloza: “Yes.”

Manuel ‘Manny’ Escamilla: “Yes I will respect the outcome of the election and wish the winner of all contests success in their efforts.”

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