Santa Ana City Councilman Ron May, who was first elected to public office just 15 months ago, is expected to announce today that he intends to run for the 1st District Board of Supervisors seat held by Roger R. Stanton.
May, 49, announced Monday that he would hold a press conference today, but he would neither confirm nor deny rumors of his candidacy. "You'll find out tomorrow," he said.
However, sources close to his 1986 council campaign confirmed that he had decided to seek Stanton's seat in the June election.
"He told me about it last week," said Donald Blankenship, president of the Santa Ana Police Benevolent Assn., which supported May in 1986 when he defeated incumbent council member Robert W. Luxembourger. Blankenship said the association had not decided whom it would support in the supervisorial race.
"It's up in the air right now," he said, adding, "Roger's been a friend of the association and of law enforcement."
Recently filed campaign statements show that Stanton has already amassed a huge war chest--$304,000--while May has just $33 in campaign funds. May spent about $26,000 in his 1986 City Council campaign.
But a source close to May who requested anonymity said he believes that the councilman could easily raise as much as $200,000. He said May decided to take on the difficult task of unseating an incumbent supervisor because he perceived a "failure of leadership" among board members in tackling such difficult issues as growth and transportation.
Stanton, a former Fountain Valley City Council member, defeated then-Supervisor Phil Anthony, who had been indicted and later pleaded no contest to charges of laundering campaign contributions, in 1980. He was reelected in 1984 without opposition.
The 1st District includes Fountain Valley, Santa Ana and parts of Garden Grove and Tustin.
Stanton declined to return phone calls to his office Monday. He has said he is considering a bid in the 40th Congressional District, in which Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach) has decided not to seek reelection.
May, a lifelong Santa Ana resident and currently a teacher at Santa Ana High School, would retain his council seat if he loses in the 1st District because his council term does not expire until 1990.
May's City Council colleagues were cautious in their assessment of his political gamble.
"Ron May is a friend of mine, and he is making and is going to make a good city councilman," said fellow council member Wilson B. Hart. "But I think his decision is ill-advised. . . . Roger is also a friend of mine and has made a good supervisor. I'll support him."
Vice Mayor Patricia A. McGuigan said May's push to gain higher office "might be premature. . . . Perhaps a little more political experience would be beneficial . . . but I'm sure he's given all that a great deal of consideration."
McGuigan said she is concerned that May's candidacy, along with three council ward races and a mayoral race this year, could disrupt council business for several months.
Council member John Acosta, a supporter of Stanton who says he would be interested in his seat on the board if Stanton decides not to seek reelection, said May's decision may weaken his local power base.
"Some people may look at this (a council seat) as a steppingstone to the next office, and that's fine and dandy," said Acosta. "But people who went out and worked for you may feel a little slighted and cheated. . . . I would suggest that he serve out a full term as a councilman first because that's what he was elected to do."