Public-employee union dominance of California politics suffered an important defeat last Tuesday. Voters in Santa Ana’s Ward 3 snubbed an attempt led by the powerful Santa Ana Police Officers Association to recall Councilmember Jessie Lopez, 56% to 44%. The union spent at least $660,000 and still lost.
The election also cost taxpayers up to $666,990 to hold, according to the Orange County Registrar of voters. Especially considering Ms. Lopez is up for re-election next year, this was an absolute waste of taxpayer money.
The POA and its allies attempted to reframe the purpose of the recall as having to do with Lopez’s stances on issues like rent control. But that was just a cynical ploy to divert attention from the obvious reason for the recall.
Fortunately, voters saw things as they really were.
The recall was the final act of vindictiveness from former POA President Gerry Serrano, who was “separated from city service pending retirement pursuant to a confidential personnel matter.”
The recall was purely revenge by Serrano against Lopez for daring to stand up to the POA accountable and for daring to order Serrano to do police work if he was going to remain on the city’s dole.
Related: Good riddance to Gerry Serrano
Serrano, who for years was paid by the city to be a full-time union boss, long leveraged his position for selfish ends.
This included the successful 2020 recall of Councilwoman Ceci Iglesias after she voted in 2019 against a hefty pay increase for POA members. And it included Serrano’s enlisting of California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, as well as Sens. Bob Archuleta, Tom Umberg, Josh Newman and Assemblymembers Freddie Rodriguez, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Tom Daly to help boost his pension. The latter attempt failed.
With Serrano gone, and his recall defeated, we are hopeful that the iron grip of the POA on Santa Ana has finally been lifted.
Santa Ana Mayor Valerie Amezcua and Councilmembers Phil Bacerra and David Penaloza supported the recall. They must reconsider their subservience to the POA and recommit to serving the people of Santa Ana rather than powerful interests.
May this recall be a signal that no special interest group can call the shots in Santa Ana City Hall.