ANAHEIM, Calif. – Four candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to replace former embattled mayor Harry Sidhu as Mayor of Anaheim.
Former city council member Lori Galloway, current council member Trevor O'Neill, former federal prosecutor Ashleigh Aitken and water systems operator Dick Lopez are all running for the head of one of Orange County's largest cities.
The new mayor will have a challenging task once elected in November.
For years, Anaheim has grappled with a growing homeless issue, crime, and public safety, and calls for equal neighborhood investments (many residents have claimed that the city's resort district receives a bulk of investments and shuts out other parts of the city).
There are additional problems ahead this year: the new mayor will need to deal with the fallout of former mayor Sidhu resigning because of an FBI corruption investigation regarding the now defunct sale of Angel Stadium.
Many residents said that the new mayor must bring trust back into city hall and create policies to build more affordable housing. And the new mayor must navigate a city still rebounding from the negative economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that left the city with a more than $100 million deficit last year.
Still, Anaheim is on an upward trajectory. The city continues to clean up its portion of Beach Boulevard. The hotels in the resort district are seeing more tourists return, and the city will see the construction of ocV!BE, a new destination built around the Honda Center.
Here are the four mayoral candidates, the amount they've so far raised, and the platforms on their candidate statements.
Aitken, a former federal prosecutor and current Of Counsel at Aitken Aitken Cohn law firm, is considered the frontrunner.
Aitken finished second to Sidhu in the 2018 election, losing the mayor's race by less than 500 votes.
Aitken grew up in Anaheim and said her priorities include growing the city's economy, creating jobs, reducing crime, and improving city services.
In her candidate statement, she said she would address homelessness by securing funding to build more supportive housing and mental health care.
According to her latest committee campaign statement, she's raised more than $184,000 this year for her election. In her latest round, she's received donations from the Anaheim Firefighters Association PAC, the Anaheim Municipal Employees Association, and former Anaheim council member Denise Barnes.
Galloway is currently the CEO of The Eli Home, a shelter and faith-based organization in Anaheim for abused children and their mothers.
Galloway served the maximum two terms on the city council between 2004-2012.
She ran for mayor in 2018, finishing third, below Sidhu and Aitken.
In her candidate statement, Galloway, who describes herself as a fiscally conservative moderate, said that her priorities include hiring more police and firefighters, increasing dialogue between law enforcement and residents, and creating more housing solutions and other mental health programs to reduce homelessness.
According to her latest campaign statement, Galloway has raised more than $31,000 with donations from the Anaheim/Orange County Hotel and Lodging Association, Good Hope International, and the Sprinkler Fitters United Association 709 PAC.
The current mayor pro tem on the city council, O'Neil, represents the city's District 6, which is the Anaheim Hills area. O'Neil became acting mayor of Anaheim after embattled Mayor Sidhu stepped down amid an FBI investigation.
O'Neil was elected in 2018 and announced his run for the city's top elected post in August.
In his candidate statement, O'Neil said he would continue to support the city's police and fire departments, create business-friendly policies to create local jobs and economic growth, and maintain and improve parks, roads, and community centers.
According to his latest campaign financial statement, O'Neil has raised more than $108,000 for his campaign.
He's received donations from the Anaheim/OC Hotel and Lodging Association PAC, Good Hope International, and Shopoff Fund VII.
Not much is known about Dick Lopez politically.
A political newcomer, Lopez, is a water systems operator for the city of Anaheim.
This mayoral race is the first time Lopez has run for an elected position.
Lopez, who has lived in Anaheim since 1979, said he would like better transparency between the residents and the city council in his candidate statement. He added that the city needs a leader that knows how to deal with homelessness, crime, clean water, the Disney ticket tax and the Angels' situations.
Lopez has not filed a campaign finance disclosure form.