Ashleigh Aitken, a candidate that ran on a campaign of reform, declared victory in the Anaheim mayoral race over her three opponents Wednesday night as city hall faces public backlash over the FBI corruption probe released this year.

If trends hold, Aitken will be the first woman elected mayor in Orange County’s largest city. Aitken’s father, Wylie Aitken, is chair of Voice of OC’s board of directors. 

“This has been a difficult year for Anaheim. The FBI probe and scandals created by former Mayor Harry Sidhu, and those who enabled him, have left a cloud over our city and shaken confidence in City Hall. I’m humbled that the voters of Anaheim have chosen me to help lead our city at this critical time,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

And Councilwoman Gloria Ma’ae, a Disney-backed candidate, could be on her way out after losing her lead to reformer candidate Carlos Leon earlier this week. 

On Wednesday, Aitken had an almost 5,300-led over current acting Mayor Trevor O’Neil

Following Thursday’s update, Aitken had 42.85 %, while O’Neil had 34.54% of the 66,205 total votes casted. Her lead increased to 5,501 votes. 

There were still 26,204 ballots left to be processed, according to the OC Registrar of Voters. The results reflect 97% of all ballots cast across OC.

“As Mayor, I’ll listen to residents and work hard to bring people together in order to implement reforms and deliver results. Anaheim is an incredible city. I’ll fight every day to ensure our city government lives up to its obligations to our residents. I’m grateful for this moment, and I can’t wait to get to work,” Aitken said.

O’Neil did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Trailing O’Neil in third place was Democrat Lorri Galloway with 16.96% of votes as of Thursday.

In a Wednesday text, Galloway said she plans on conceding.

“I congratulate Mayor-elect Aitken and wish her God’s blessings always,” she wrote.

Her campaign was bolstered by over $134,000 from the Lincoln Club of OC, a conservative political action committee, even though the Lincoln Club endorsed O’Neil for mayor.

The same political action committee spent over $271,000 against Aitken.

Aitken, herself, was bolstered by over $138,000 by the Helping Working Families Get Ahead PAC – a labor union funded political action committee.

She also got over $72,000 in support from the Anaheim Firefighters Association and over $91,000 from the Anaheim Police Association.

A Resort Ally Trails Behind in Tight Council Race 

Meanwhile in District 2, Disney-backed Ma’ae has fallen further behind her opponent, Leon – who lists his profession on the ballot as a business development manager.

Ma’ae had been in the lead until Tuesday night when she fell behind by three votes.

[Read: Resort Ally Falls Behind in Tight Anaheim City Council Race in Election Results]

By Thursday, Leon had garnered 4,874 votes, leading ahead of Ma’ae by 59 votes.

Ma’ae is the only Disney-backed candidate to fall behind, while candidates Natalie Rubalcava and Natalie Meeks held wide leads in their respective races in Districts 3 and 6 Thursday night.

Disney, which spent over $1 million over each of the last two elections, poured $1.3 million this election into the Support Our Anaheim Resort political action committee.

The PAC used the money to back candidates Ma’ae, Rubalcava and Meeks – despite calls from residents for resort interests to stay out of local politics during fallout from the FBI corruption probe. 

Meeks received the most from SOAR with over $546,000 in support. She got 14,006 votes. 

Rubalcava got over $379,000 from SOAR. She got 5,777 votes.

Ma’ae received the least amount of money of the three candidates from SOAR, which poured over $302,000 to bolster the councilwoman’s campaign.

Leon has received over $87,000 in support from labor union-funded, The Helping Working Families Get Ahead PAC.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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