Resort-backed Councilwoman Gloria Ma’ae has fallen further behind her opponent, Carlos Leon, in the race to represent District 2 Anaheim residents.

Leon gained a 42-vote lead ahead of Ma’ae following Wednesday’s 5 p.m. update – months after FBI agents publicly revealed a corruption probe into city hall that touches on resort interests and their control over city hall. 

He increased his lead from 3 votes yesterday.

There are still about 60,000 ballots left to process, according to the OC Registrar of Voters website.

Ma’ae is the only Disney-backed candidate to lose her lead on Tuesday with candidates Natalie Rubalcava and Natalie Meeks continuing to lead their respective races in Districts 3 and 6. They maintained their lead on Wednesday.

Ma’ae had 4,717 votes Wednesday while Leon had 4,759 votes.

Disney, who 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. 

Meeks received the most from SOAR with over $546,000 in support. She got 13,860 votes. 

Rubalcava got over $379,000 from SOAR. She got 5,172 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, who lists his profession on the ballot as a business development manager, has received over $87,000 in support from labor union-funded, The Helping Working Families Get Ahead PAC.

She herself served on SOAR’s advisory board and was appointed to represent District 2, which encompasses parts of West Anaheim and Little Arabia, following the resignation of Jordan Brandman last year.

Ma’ae’s appointment triggered criticism from some residents who called her appointment process politicized and rushed.

On the night of her appointment, Ma’ae spoke against designating Little Arabia.

In the weeks after federal agents revealed their corruption probe, Ma’ae publicly said she was talking to the Arab community and tried to have her council colleagues hold off from bringing up the issue until she agendized next steps.

She then called for a study of Brookhurst Street, but never once used the words “Little Arabia” – raising concerns from business owners and merchants.

In the end, Ma’ae supported the designation of Little Arabia along Brookhurst Street between Broadway to Ball Road a few months before the election. 

Ma’ae was among other council members who did not support campaign finance reform in Anaheim this year.

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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