Lopez defeats recall; Returns indicate win over costly contest

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SANTA ANA, Calif. - In a recall election for Santa Ana's Ward 3, Jessie Lopez managed to secure her position despite being outspent almost fourfold. The recall effort, led by the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and landlord groups, aimed to unseat Lopez, but voters ultimately supported the incumbent councilmember, even after the wrong ward map was used to canvass signatures.

The election results, which are not final as of print, showed 3,821 choosing to vote against the recall and 2,963 in favor, with Lopez in the lead by 858 votes. El Santanero projected Jessie Lopez would defeat the recall after the Orange County Registrar of Voters' indicated that there were fewer than 500 ballots left to process. This suggested a significant majority opposing the recall, regardless of the remaining votes' outcomes.

Notably, this recall election stood out for the exorbitant amount of money poured into the campaign. The Santa Ana Police Officers Association and landlord groups collectively spent over $800,000, while. Jessie Lopez's campaign spent approximately $200,000. Despite the significant financial gap, Lopez's grassroots support and community backing prevailed over the well-funded opposition.

The recall election in Santa Ana's Ward 3 saw a voter turnout slightly over 25%, with the majority of voters opting for mail-in ballots. This method of voting, popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed constituents to participate in the democratic process without physically going to the polls.

After an October surprise, in which the error of ward maps was identified, then the Council deadlocking 3-3 to continue the recall anyway, despite acknowledgment of costly legal litigation and fees at the taxpayers’ expense, Lopez won.

Jessie Lopez's victory in the face of overwhelming financial opposition sends a powerful message about the importance of community engagement and trust in local politics. The recall election highlights the resilience of grassroots campaigns and the capacity of voters to resist external influence, sparking discussions about campaign financing and potential regulations to level the playing field in local elections.