SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A special election to recall Santa Ana Ward 3 Councilmember Jessie Lopez is underway, and taxpayers are footing the more than $500,000 bill.
After the changes she has seen in her neighborhood, one constituent, who wished to remain anonymous, said she wants Lopez to stay because "she's been doing a good job."
"She responds. She put equipment here in the local park next to this building," the woman said referring to Cabrillo Park.
But come November, it's up to the voters to decide whether Lopez keeps her seat representing Ward 3, which covers the northernmost and northeast portions of Santa Ana.
Lopez said she's being targeted after voting along with the council majority against a salary increase proposed by the police association in December 2022.
"Part of that was us saying, 'Hey, accountability is important to the majority of the council. We should be able to audit some of this taxpayer money,' and they strongly oppose that and said that you know, there should be no type of auditing going on," Lopez said.
John Kachirisky, the president of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association, who is leading the recall effort, says the move is about community and public safety in the city.
He sent Eyewitness News the following statement via email:
"The Santa Ana Police Officers Association ("SAPOA") endorses the recall of City of Santa Ana Councilwoman Jessie Lopez ("Lopez") because her policy positions put community safety and quality of life concerns in the City at risk.
For example, Lopez has voted to defund major police enforcement measures to include providing additional support for anti-gang and anti-violent crime initiatives. She has failed to support stricter penalties on "street racing" and public intoxication as well as stricter general traffic enforcement. This failure to assist the police department in making the streets and public spaces of the City of Santa Ana safer is unacceptable.
SAPOA is also backing the Lopez recall in an effort to combat misinformation regarding our support for community building including police oversight. This recall is about community and public safety in the City of Santa Ana.
SAPOA stands in solidarity with City of Santa Ana Mayor Valerie Amezcua along with other city council members to support a vote of "YES" for the recall of Jessie Lopez."
"We are one vote away from public safety addressing things like homeless, addressing public intoxication, addressing drug use, addressing pulling people over for minor traffic violations. These are things that [Lopez] has been against," Amezcua said.
Apartment Association of Orange County Executive Director David Cordero, who also supports the recall effort, said crime also plays a big role.
"For those of us who live or work here in the city, we see problems every day, just going through to our offices or to our homes. Crime has certainly been a major issue that has only continued to get worse with Councilmember Lopez representing Ward 3," he said.
According to the most recent available data reported by the Santa Ana Police Department to the California Department of Justice, through May 2022, property crimes decreased 10% since 2020, and were down the same amount from pre-pandemic averages.
The same data shows violent crimes increased modestly, about 4% from 2020 to 2022, but were still below pre-pandemic averages.
A Ward 3 constituent of 10 years said she's seen a positive difference since Lopez has been in office, saying she has seen her community improve.
Ward 3 voters have until 8 p.m. on Nov. 14 to cast their ballots.