Photo: Vicente Sarmiento / Courtesy
After serving on the Santa Ana City Council for more than 14 years, the last two as mayor, Vicente Sarmiento is running to seek the position of Orange County District 2 Supervisor.
The new central district for the first time has a majority of Latino residents. This came after the Board of Supervisors approved the new boundaries in late 2021 as a result of the latest census, which showed changes in population and demographics, among other factors.
In an interview with La Opinion, today’s mayor said that if elected, he will continue to help his Santa Ana community as well as the center of Orange County but from another board of directors.
Sarmiento, a Bolivian national and a lawyer by profession, arrived with his family in Santa Ana when he was just one year old.
In 2007, he began his service as a public official and is currently the mayor of the city and a member of the Board of Directors of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). In the past he served as President and a member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors for six years.
Sarmiento, whose term as mayor ends in December 2022, said the county has many resources that are not being used. His experience is what he considers makes him the perfect candidate to help solve the problems.
He indicated that there is a lack of attention to the most needy populations such as the city of Santa Ana and some parts of Anaheim and gave as an example the need that existed in these areas at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic as well as the high need with the homeless. .
Sarmiento said that at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, all the indices pointed to Santa Ana being the center of the epidemic in the county. The reason is because the city has many multi-generational households making families more prone to infections.
However, when the tests to detect covid-19 began to be available and later the vaccines were first delivered in other, richer areas, such as those located in the south of the county.
“The response to those consequences throughout the county has been very sad because having that advance they could bring the resources much sooner and more widely to Santa Ana,” he said. “I had to raise my voice and say that we were going to get stronger with the county and with the state.”
Regarding homelessness, he indicated that there are currently very high numbers of homeless people for many reasons.
This includes the county’s reluctance to invest the funds it receives from the federal government. “They get millions and millions for this thing.”
And he added that the county has made it easy for the city of Santa Ana to carry the largest number of homeless people.
“As we are the county seat we have a lot of services here – like food and medical services – but we also want to compassionately help people who are homeless. However, we see that the county has made it easy for the other 33 cities to bring their homeless people. [aquí] and that for me is not fair,” said Sarmiento.
The most curious thing is that they discovered is that when looking at the demographics of the homeless they have realized that the majority are not people of color.
“The same federal judge saw that they are not people from Santa Ana and that is where we saw that they are filling our city with homeless people who are not from here,” he explained.
“I agree that we have to do our part but I don’t think it’s fair that we have to solve the problem for the entire county.”
Ask for community support
If elected as a supervisor, Sarmiento would be the third Latino supervisor in county history and the first Santa Ana official to serve on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the last 74 years.
District 2 includes the entire city of Santa Ana as well as portions of Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, and Garden Grove.
It is over 62% Latino and has a strong Democratic voter registration lead of 25.6%.
Sarmiento said that in these elections the first thing he hopes is that all the people go out to vote, especially now that they are categorized as an integral part of the election in District 2.
“I hope that I can win the people’s vote but I would like all the people who qualify to go out and vote because unfortunately we are in a mid-term election and we are in a primary, which is in June. So the Latino voice is never heard in elections that don’t sound as loud as the presidential election,” Sarmiento said.