No, it’s not a mistake. Betty Valencia, who lost the Nov 2018 race for the Orange City Council, will be on your ballot again this November.
Beatriz “Betty” Valencia, 48, a Chapman doctoral student in leadership studies, lost her race for the position in November, placing third for a race with two open seats. But the top vote getter, Mark A. Murphy, was appointed mayor, leaving one city council spot open. The five seat Council could have filled the remaining vacancy by appointing Valencia to the Council – as she came in third in a race of eight. Instead, the members opted to pay $500,000 to hold yet another election.
It’s strange that Valencia was not appointed to the third seat, said Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman University, usually the City Council would give the seat to the next highest vote-getter. “They chose not to. Under pressure they decided to have an election.” Smoller said.
No candidates have filed to run in the upcoming Nov. 2019 special election because candidates will not be able to pull nomination paperwork at the Orange City Clerk’s office until July. But Valencia intends to do so, she said.
Valencia’s platform calls for inclusion of all residents in the community, reducing homelessness, reducing waste, implementing green technologies and legislation, supporting small businesses, increasing funding for Meals on Wheels, increasing library hours and improving infrastructure. As of now, nobody has filed to run against Valencia.
In April, the Orange City Council voted unanimously to hire a consultant to help decide how to best divide the city into distinct districts, with voters from each district electing a representative. The move was made after an Orange resident sued the city on the grounds that the existing system dilute the votes of Latinos, who make up almost 40 percent of the city’s population.
“The lawsuit is not unique to our city, and it did not come as a surprise to the city officials who have known about the intention to move to districting long before our campaign even launched,” said Valencia, who added that she supports the changes.
The Council had planned to spend $280,000 to defend itself against the lawsuit, until the City attorney warned the members they could wind up spending millions more, according to The Orange County Register. But the November election that Valencia plans to run in will be held under the old rules.
Ryan Marhoefer, junior business administration major and member of the Chapman Republicans, will not be voting for Valencia, dismissing her candidacy as “identity-rich” and “policy poor.”
“Voters are tired of candidates running on superficial qualities about themselves (‘Immigrant,’ ‘LGBTQ member,’ etc),” Marhoefer said via Facebook messenger. “Her status of being an immigrant from Mexico carries no relevance to me…Origin does not matter. Results and values matter,” he added. Her notation that she is a queer Latina is irrelevant, and her touting those statuses as relevant attributes to a candidate is ridiculous.”
In December, a knife was pulled at a city council meeting, by a man shouting homophobic slurs. “He turned and called me a loser,” said Valencia, who identifies as a lesbian.
“Nobody made a statement after,” Valencia said. “The meeting wasn’t stopped and we were told to sit down and continue, we were sitting in a space that was just violated. Our leadership let us down tremendously.”
April 2018, what the Orange County Register labeled as the “Hate Circus,” arrived in the city of Orange for a six hour city council event.
“A highly conservative group attended the meeting calling immigrants murderers and causing major disruption,” Valencia said. The Hate Circus was decked out in red – wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and holding Republican flags.
“One of the women thought I was an ally and started speaking to me as if I was following their rhetoric,” because Valencia was wearing her trademark red shoes. “I said to her, ‘no, this color does not belong to you, it belongs to me too.’”
She shakes off the hate, saying she is buoyed by the support she receives from those on her campaign and around the community.
“Our platform is guided by the desire to include all the residents of Orange on issues that deal with our basic needs like street lights and pavement, to more developed and complicated issues such as housing residents and our city,” Valencia said. “All the while making sure the environment is considered when making decisions with our city. Our campaign is intersectional, we look at how the community benefits together.”
Valencia’s stance on homelessness, changing this ideals of “us vs. them” and seeing the homeless as individuals who need respect and dignity, rides at the top of her mission for the future of Orange.
“We have a housing trust we can tap into, we don’t see homelessness as an enemy of the city, we see it as a state that people are living in,” Valencia said.
Valencia also wants to revise local tax law.
“I do not want my taxes to go up, there are better alternatives,” Valencia said. “We need a diverse set of businesses to help us grow our economy. Are we exploring all kinds of potential revenues that are not being implemented, we need to look at all our alternatives.”
Six Chapman students volunteered for her fall 2018 campaign. Junior political science major Hannah Richardson worked mostly with student engagement and voter turnout and admired the candidate, saying she was honest and transparent.
“She never shied away from questions or criticisms,” Richardson said. “Orange needs Betty in order to flourish and grow: We have been stuck in our ways for way to long, and having Betty in office would bring a more inclusive, happy, and proud Orange,” she added.
Valencia received 10,775 votes in the previous election.
Marhoefer doubts Valencia will do much better this fall. “I don’t see Valencia winning the election,” he said, “but crazier things have happened.”