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Santa Ana voters will decide direction of city government – from term limits to political makeup

From potential lifetime term limits to the political makeup of the City Council and mayoral positions, Santa Ana voters are tasked this year with several decisions that could alter how their city government looks.

With Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento stepping down to vie for an Orange County Board of Supervisors seat, voters will pick between two former council members, a school board member, and a college student to helm the city next. The decision could solidify a new progressive direction for Santa Ana.

School board member Valerie Amezcua is running on a slate with other moderate Democrats. Former Councilman Sal Tinajero said he’s “absolutely progressive” while former Councilman Jose Solorio described himself as a “fiscally conservative Democrat.” And Santa Ana College student Jesse Nestor is a libertarian.

Meanwhile, the six candidates for City Council also offer voters a choice between more moderate Democrats and progressives, though council seats are officially non-partisan.

In Ward 2, Councilwoman Nelida Mendoza faces challenge Benjamin Vazquez. In Ward 4, Councilman Phil Bacerra is running against Amalia Mejia. And in Ward 6, Councilman David Penaloza squares off against Manny Escamilla.

MORE: Learn about your candidates in our 2022 Voter Guide

But aside from candidates, Santa Ana voters will get to provide input on a variety of ballot measures this year.

Measure X, if approved, would implement several changes to the Santa Ana city charter, from mandating a super-majority vote of the council to approve the annual budget to implementing general neutral language in the charter descriptions.

The measure would also further cement term limits for City Council and mayoral members: It would eliminate the eight-year “cooling off period” that allows candidates to run again for election after they have termed out and would cap service at 20 years (three terms of four years each on the council and four terms of two years each as mayor).

And then there’s Measure H which, if approved, would enact term limits for members of the Santa Ana Unified School District board. Members would be limited to three four-year terms and would be precluded from serving again once that time is up. The term limits would also apply to non-consecutive terms.

Voters will also decide Measure W, the “Santa Ana business license tax equity and flexible tax holiday measure.” The measure restructures business license tax rates to a flat fee per business and provides a “tax holiday” for unlicensed businesses or those with past-due taxes.

Ballots have been sent to all registered voters in Santa Ana, and may be mailed in by Election Day. In-person voting begins on Oct. 29 when vote centers open. Residents can also register to vote at the centers.

Fourteen vote centers will open in Santa Ana this year, including two on Oct. 29 (Jerome Center at 726 S. Center St., and Orange County Registrar of Voters at 1300 S. Grand Ave., Building C). The other locations, opening on Nov. 5, can be found at: ocvote.gov/elections/2022-general-election/vote-center-locations.

More information about what is on the ballot and how to vote can be found at www.santa-ana.org/elections or ocvote.gov. Be sure to also check out our Voter Guide at www.ocregister.com/voter-guide/.

Here are some headlines from the election:

Santa Ana’s Election 2022: Four candidates hope to become mayor

Santa Ana City Council election has potential to impact the make-up of the dais

Santa Ana voters to decide on lifetime term limits for mayor, City Council

Should Santa Ana Unified School District members have term limits? That’s up to voters

Elections 2022: Santa Ana voters asked to restructure city’s business tax

Can noncitizens vote in Santa Ana? That won’t be decided in the 2022 election

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