2020 OC Filings #3 (as of 7/31) for Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton & Costa Mesa




Orange’s new districts, now in play!

As noted in our introduction to this year’s general election coverage, the filing period for all races is underway; it ends August 7 (or 8/6, for cities closed on 8/7, and with some extensions to 8/12) for all races that have made it this far.  Today, we’ll look at the fifth through eighth most populous cities in the county: Garden Grove, Orange, Fullerton & Costa Mesa, to see what’s going on.  This will be updated as need be and time allows.

Garden Grove

Garden Grove now has districts, and will elect a Mayor to a 2-year term and Council members to 4-year terms for districts 2, 5, and 6.  That means that the incumbents with terms ending this year include Mayor Steve Jones, John O’Neill (#2), Stephanie Klopfenstein (#5), and Kim Bereniece Nguyen (#6). If any eligible incumbent doesn’t run, filing is extended to August 12.


Steve Jones has taken out papers, but has not filed them.  Larry Miller and Donald Taylor are in the same position.

District 2

John O’Neill has filed and qualified.  Julie Chau Diep has pulled papers.

District 5

Stephanie Klopfenstein has filed and qualified and is as yet unopposed.

District 6

Kim Bernice Nguyen has filed and qualified and is as yet unopposed.  Vern preferred her for the Supervisor spot in March.  She’s the first GG Councilmember of Latino descent (mixed with Vietnamese, obviously — which, less obviously, gave made her a ringer for Drew Barrymore.)

We have a pretty simple candidate quiz for this city: “What are you doing to get current District 3 Councilwoman Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen elected to the State Assembly over Janet Nguyen?”  Lots?  Great!  Do you prefer Janet?  Someone should run against you — and beat you! Diedre’s endorsement page confirms our high opinion of her colleague Bernice — but the other three incumbents aren’t mentioned.  So let’s check Janet’s website.  Oooh, Janet’s endorsed by: Steve Jones and Stephanie Klopfenstein.  So, John O’Neill is OK for now, and Steve Jones already has two challengers (if one files), so the remaining task is finding someone to run against Klopfenstein in District 5.  Its boundaries (starting clockwise from the southeast) start at Euclid from Westminster up to Lampson,  Lampton east to Ninth, and then the whole rest of the area between Ninth and Haster from Garden Grove Blvd. up to the city limits.  The best suited among you has to take out your papers and prepare to run!  (If necessary, you can decide how to narrow it down to one in our comments section.)

P.S. to Council member Klopfenstein: that was a bad endorsement.  (And we see you on Janet’s list too, Sen. Moorlach!)


The City of Orange is inaugurating its new district system with elections for Districts 1, 2, 3, and 5,, along with citywide elections for Mayor, City Clerk, and City Treasurer.  (Seat 1 is a 2-year “short-term.”)

By the way, does anyone know what happened to the special election for the Council vacancy where Betty Valencia was supposed to run?  It’s still vacant!


  • Adrienne Gladson (pulled papers only)
  • Mark Murphy (pulled papers only)

Gladson has Tita Smith’s endorsement, which is good, but she is clearly outmatched by current Mayor Murphy (who is also an OCTA director — which may well be a vulnerability).  I don’t think that this race can be repaired unless perhaps some less implausible long-shot gets in; it might still take a minor miracle, but at least the math wouldn’t be impossible.

District 1:

(everything between Tustin and Main south of Districts 1 & 2 down to the city limits, except for the tract west of Tustin above Fairhaven.)

  • Arianna Barrios (pulled papers only)
  • Eugene Fields (pulled papers only)
  • Christian Vaughn (has qualified)
  • David Vazquez (pulled papers only)

Planning Commissioner Vazquez has the stepping-stone position, but Fields has a lot of grassroots buzz.  Vaughn, a detective, has that profession going for him. Barrios — a PR flack who was Kris Murray’s paid assistant in Anaheim — would be the worst choice, but against three men she may have the best shot.  Either Fields and Vazquez might want to consider switching to the Mayor’s race rather than splitting the “reasonable” vote and handing this to Barrios.  I know that that race would be tough, but it still might be easier than this — and Murphy is essentially unopposed.

District 2: 

(south of Fletcher (plus river shore up to Lincoln), down to Walnut, west to Main, then down to the city limits and everything west of that) 

  • Jon Dumitru (has qualified)
  • Martin Varona (has qualified)
  • Daniel Correa (has qualified)
  • Caroline Alatorre  (pulled papers only)

Dumitru has a following, but let’s call it a checkered past.  Varona is a civil engineer and legislative analyst dealing with transportation issues — which sounds great except for OC’s OCTA craziness.  (I hope But he’s not one of them.)  Correa is a planning consultant, and I vaguely recall thinking well of him (will require research!), so here again I’m wary of the split reasonable vote losing to the unified unreasonable vote.  Alatorre seems nice; needs seasoning, but in the future won’t be outmatched.

District 3: 

(mostly between Glassell and Tustin above Collins, but spreads west above Fletcher)

  • Danett Abbott-Wicker is an administrative assistant. (has qualified)
  • Mike Alvarez, Mayor Pro Tem, seems safe here.  (has filed but not qualified)
  • John Russo (pulled papers only)

District 5:

(between Tustin and the 55 up to Katella and down to the city limits, then all city property eastward to Rancho Santiago and down to the city limits, plus a bit more)

  • Ana Gutierrez Olivarez, an educator (has qualified)
  • Rick Ledesma (pulled papers only)
  • Mark Burkhardt  (pulled papers only)
  • Garrison DeVine  (pulled papers only)

Ledesman and Burkhardt both have juice — but what are they waiting for?  Might one run for Clerk or Treasurer instead?  (I kid, I kid.)  I expect to support Olivarez, but will need to read up.

City Treasurer

  • Richard Rohm (pulled papers only)

City Clerk

  • Pamela Coleman (pulled papers only)


District 1

  • Fred Jung (businessman/non-profit director) (has qualified)
  • Andrew Cho (pulled papers only)

District 2

  • Faisal Qazi (pulled papers only)
  • Charles Sargeant (has qualified)
  • Nick Dunlap (pulled papers only)
  • Mackenzie Chang (pulled papers only)

District 4

  • Bruce Whitaker (pulled papers only)
  • Aaruni Thakur (has qualified)

I know of former Parks & Rec Commissioner Fred Jung, but don’t know what he’d plan to do on council.  As it stands, he may be unopposed in District 1 — but with Jennifer Fitzgerald stepping down, if she does count as an eligible incumbent, it will be open until August 12.  (Don’t wait until then, in case she doesn’t.)  Faisal Qazi, a neurologist, would be a great candidate in District 2, but I don’t know the others (especially Sargeant, who could be running alone.)  I’m not sure whether it goes until Aug. 12; depends on whether Flory counts as an eligible incumbent. In district 4, I do understand the good things about Whitaker, but school board member Thakur is brilliant and dynamic and would be great on the council.  Jane Rands had a good review of this situation at the end of June here; we now know that the person for whom Trini Castaneda was stepping aside in District 4 was Thakur.  (I don’t know what happened to Chris Gaardner.)

Costa Mesa


Katrina Foley (pulled only)

Al Melone (pulled only)

Sandy Genis  (pulled only)

District 1

John Stephens (pulled only)

District 2

Ben Chapman (pulled only)

Loren Gameros (has qualified)

District 6

Walid Wasfy (pulled only)

Hengameh Abraham (pulled only)

Jeffrey Harlan (pulled only)

Jeff Pettis (pulled only)

Lee Ramos (pulled only)

Seems like a transitional year on the coastal plain! Well, not for Mayor, where it’s Foley vs. Genis, now and (unless one of then wins higher office) forever! And not for District 1, where John Stephens will win regardless of whether he’s opposed.  District 2 has a pair of first-time candidates (so far as I can remember), and  District 6 has a bloom of them.  Lee Ramos is a familiar name (with a not-great reputation); I don’t know the others, but Wasfy and Abraham should understand that to the extent that there is a Muslim and or POC vote (which the hard-right Ramos may have trouble accessing), they’re going to split that vote.  Maybe they should get together and decide who’s best set to win.)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)