Anaheim, CA

Amid FBI Probe, Next Anaheim Mayor Faces "Incredibly Difficult" Uphill Battle

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In May 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched a probe into the City of Anaheim, ultimately uncovering layers upon layers of corruption in the California city. Now, new mayoral candidates have emerged, and they are facing an uphill climb.

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When news of the original FBI investigation broke, the Los Angeles Times reported that the corruption scandal had "imperiled" the municipality's planned $320 million sale of Angel Stadium to the Major League Baseball team, as well as shocking the entire populous and political establishment in the city.

The Times referred to the FBI probe as a "a rare, unvarnished look at how business is done behind closed doors in the city of 350,000." It went on to note:

In an affidavit supporting a federal search warrant targeting Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, an FBI agent wrote that Anaheim “was tightly controlled by a small cadre of individuals.” In another affidavit filed in court, the agent alleged that Todd Ament, while head of the city’s chamber of commerce, and a political consultant “defined a specific, covert group of individuals that wielded significant influence over the inner workings of Anaheim’s government.”

Sidhu, who has denied any wrongdoing by way of his legal counsel, resigned in late May amid reports that he knowingly engaged in corruption and fraud during the Angel Stadium sale process.

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Now, four new mayoral candidates have emerged and, per a new article from Mercury News, they have an "incredibly difficult" uphill battle ahead of them:

...[the new candidates are] attorney Ashleigh Aitken and former council member Lorri Galloway (both of whom ran for the office in 2018); political newcomer Dick Lopez, a water systems operator at the city’s wastewater treatment plant; and District 6 Councilman Trevor O’Neil, who as mayor pro tem has been running council meetings since former Mayor Harry Sidhu stepped down in May.

Lucy Dunn, former CEO of the Orange County Business Council, shared, "The thing that I like to remind folks is that Anaheim is the 10th largest city in California and so it sits in a very special class of cities” whose mayors play a role in state policy discussions."

Dunn continued, “My wish is, do not forget what just happened in this city. Remember you have a broad base of representation, and as a city leader your job is incredibly difficult to balance competing interests and to literally raise up Anaheim for everyone."

In addition to its 350,000 permanent residents, Anaheim play host to 25 million tourists annually, the majority of whom are in town to visit theme parks like Disneyland Resort and Knott's Berry Farm, to watch sporting events, or to attend conventions like the recent 125,000-attendee D23 Expo.

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Anaheim residents will vote for their new mayor on November's ballot. At this time, former Mayor Sidhu has not been formally charged.

What do you think about the ongoing investigation into Anaheim's political situation?

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