OJB’s ENDORSEMENTS for Fall 2022!

PREFACE: This was originally published on October 10; it will be returned there once voting (or maybe counting) is completed. If all you need is a reference list of our endorsements, we have you covered; you can read ours here!

While this can be read all of the way through like a novel (or one of our normal posts), it’s really intended to be read as an encyclopedia: look up the races that you’re interested in and then read those. If you’re interested in races you won’t personally be voting in, that’s great, but our primary hope is that it will inform your votes.

Our methodology is this: Greg reads every single candidate statement for each race, and where he thinks he needs more information he will read candidate websites and candidate answers posted on other sites as well. In other words, he’s doing what you might do if you had a dozen or more years of watching local politics; experience as a professor of American politics, campaigning, and public opinion; and decided to do all of that research. His and Vern’s bias is that of “disgruntled progressive Democrats” who don’t feel constrained to echo what their largely self-serving party leaders believe — and who are willing to endorse good Republicans over bad Democrats. If you’re a Trumpublican or a corporate or corruption-friendly Democrat, you might not always agree with our choices — and that’s fine. However, we work almost entirely independently of either major party’s endorsements — Greg intentionally did not read the Democratic Party endorsements until after he was done, and only occasionally looked at the Republican Party endorsements, so this is an independent and less (though not “un”) biased source for you than either of them — or, we’d assert, the OC Register either.


On Monday, October 3, we published the only comprehensive list of state and local races and measures affecting Orange County that you’re likely to see this year. We took pains to say that the candidates that we subtly highlighted in orange were not yet being endorsed, because our official endorsements are accompanied by analysis by me (Greg) and Vern. (Customarily, Greg’s commentary is in GREEN and Vern’s is in VIOLET.)

THIS POST, though, DOES contain our endorsements! “Greg only” is Green (or Light Green when I’m less enthused); “Vern only” is Violet, “BOTH of us” will be in ORANGE! If we’re not expressing an opinion, that will be a muted Gray.

Back in August, I gave up on waiting for cities to publish their lists of candidates who would be on the ballot this fall. (Click that link for my screed against most City Clerks, Huntington Beach and to some extent Costa Mesa excepted.) Having given up on the cities, I instead copied the full final candidate list put out by the Registrar of Voters, dated Thursday, Sept. 8 (after it was too late to be of use to prospective candidates), which includes all City Council (and other State executive) candidates. One reason to click on that link is that it contains candidates’ ballot designations, which the roster lined at the top of this post does not. I’m leaving my previous post up rather than revising it — meaning that now I can either copy every single relevant bit of it, text block by text block, by hand, or lose the color and leaving it black-and-white. So much, not all, of that lovely color is gone.

An assemblage of campaign yard signs in Northwest Orange County. (Brown grass courtesy of … drought!)

A note about incumbency:

As usual, the “i” listed after a candidate’s name (and after party affiliation, for partisan offices) stands for “incumbent”; “ai” means “appointed incumbent.” But because this is a redistricting year, we have a special treat for you. Unless a candidate represents an entire city or district, we presume that the district lines may have changed, so candidates who have been part of the previous Board or Council are labeled as “qi” — meaning “quasi-incumbent.” (In other words, they were in the same office, but may not have been representing precisely this newly redrawn district.) What “aqi” means is left as an exercise for our readers. If you’re a candidate labeled “qi” when you should be “i,” let us know!

Note: One reason you may way to read these is that I DO NOT REVIEW THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S ENDORSEMENTS. I MAKE UP MY OWN MIND ABOUT CANDIDATES INDEPENDENTLY. If you want Democratic Party endorsements, you don’t need me; go and find them. If we disagree, then if you’re a Democrat you have a choice to make. (And at least I explain my reasoning!) If we agree, then you have two independent bases for a preference rather than just one! (Note: I do sometimes check DPOC’s page after I’ve endorsed, out of curiosity, to see whether my suspicions were correct.)


In every one of these races, you should do what the candidates themselves are doing: keep an eye on the NEXT race that will come after this one! For example: Newsom wants to be President; many of the others here want to run for Governor in 2026. So you should vote accordingly. We’ll explain how and why in what follows.

Governor: Gavin Newsom (D, i) v. Brian Dahle (R)

Gavin Newsom wants to run for President as early as 2024. There will be FAR better choices available. Newsom would bring with him to office all of the worst aspects of Bill Clinton and few of the better ones. He can seem progressive because he comes from the nation’s wealthiest and most liberal state, and has a legislature sending him progressive legislation — much of which he then vetoes — and even then he’s generally in thrall to his corporate donors. So do not vote for Gavin Newsom for Governor. You don’t have to vote for Brian Dahle — who would be a disaster as Governor — but Newsom is so likely to win that, like me, you can just sit this one out. The larger the drop-off in total votes between Newsom’s race and those of the other state executive races below, the less likely he is to be able to mount an effective run for the White House. So show your lack of enthusiasm by abstaining!

Vern: It’s a Zen thing, and also shows admirable self-control, to be able to leave much of your ballot unmarked, white as the driven snow, especially much of the first page. One of MY considerations is that I special-order my Pilot Razor Point pens by the box, and I will not be wasting any of my precious ink filling in a box by the name of Newsom or Dahle.

Lt. Governor: Eleni Kounialakis, (D, i) v. Angela Underwood Jacobs, (R)

Eleni Kounalakis wants to run for Governor in four years. I was an early Eleni supporter, but am one no any longer. She refused to put her name into the ring during the recall, leaving us vulnerable — if Newsom did something stupid enough — with the prospect of actually electing Larry Elder as our Governor, unless he got a “Herschel Walker” exception where Democrats would be expected to put up with whatever he did because we had no choice — which is, putting it mildly, not good for morale or our brand. (As I noted at the time, that Newsom wouldn’t allow any decent Democrat into that race, even as a backup, just shows what kind of a selfish cowardly weakling he is — and why he would be eaten up in a national race that he couldn’t control by muscling underlings around, as he has thus far in his career.) And Eleni went along with it. I could sort of accept that — but then she said that she would not favor the Lieutenant Governor automatically taking the Governor’s seat, eliminating the need for a replacement election, in the event of a recall. She said that she didn’t want the Lt. Gov. to have a motive to undermine the Governor. That means that she has either swallowed Newson’s philosophy whole — or is pretending to. Both are bad. I’d not going to vote for Underwood-Jacobs, but if Eleni can’t win without my vote, that’s on her and her boss.

Vern: A further consideration is TIME, precious time. And do you and I have the TIME to fill in a box in the “Lite-Guv” race? I don’t believe we do.

Secretary of State: Shirley Weber (D, i) v. Rob Bernosky (R)

I like Shirley Weber — and given that she’ll be 76 in two years I doubt that she’ll run for Governor. Her office hasn’t been quite as efficient as now-Senator Alex Padilla’s was, but I think that we can largely chalk that up to the Covid epidemic. And in any case, I don’t favor electing any Republican who does not curse the name of Donald Trump, and stand willing to spit in the fact of their party’s demands to change out system, in charge of running our election.

Vern: OK, Shirley Weber DOES deserve our vote; she was a heroic lawmaker before becoming SoS (as well, she was Sharon Quirk-Silva’s deskmate – did you know that?)

Controller: Malia Cohen (D) v. Lanhee Chen (R)

Malia Cohen has been a celebrated member of the Board of Equalization, elected out of the highly Democratic coastal district — which makes me want to support her. But it also makes it completely inexcusable, no matter how hard Rusty and Newsom and Yee might have leaned on her, for her to have endorsed Mike Schaefer over David Dodson. This was a test of character for someone so personally aware of what a miserable cheating bigot Schaefer is — and she has failed it. I could explain it away as a newbie giving into hard pressure, but even so it is extremely disappointing. Meanwhile, her opponent Lanhee Chen is far and away the best Republican in any of these races; he makes a cogent argument that when Democrats control every branch of government you need a Controller from the other party to keep a check on them. Makes sense! And yet, there is a difference between keeping a check on them to preserve good government — and using the powers of one’s office to ceaselessly harass them, “Benghazi!”-style. If I were convinced that Chen was the upstanding latter sort, I could see endorsing him — and if he were running against Fiona Ma for this position, I almost surely would. As it is, I’m not endorsing in this race, such as the gravity of Cohen’s moral failure. So you can blame this one on Rusty and Betty as well.

Vern: Greg may not have meant to, but he just convinced me to vote for the REPUBLICAN CONTROLLER!

I recognized and accepted that danger. I won’t do it myself because I hope for her redemption.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma (D, i) v. Jack Guerrero (R)

Fiona Ma seems like she has something seriously wrong with her. Other people have dismissed the seriousness of the sexual harassment case brought against her by a female deputy — but it still seems plausible to me. She has reached into Orange County to help corrupt and vicious SAPOA President Gerry Serrano try to hike his public pension (read that link to a story that friend-of-the-blog Duane Roberts cross-posted here) — and has recently endorsed the absolute worst candidate for Santa Ana Mayor, Jose Solorio. She’s posturing for an eventual run for Governor and unless she cured of whatever disease might be making her do all of these awful things, I don’t want to see her move even an inch further up the latter. So I’m not only saying not to vote for her, I’m voting for and endorsing the repulsive Jack Guerrero. Check out his website and you’ll see that he combines the respectable Republican of a John Moorlach, in the respects that would matter most in his doing his job, with the disgusting Republicanism of a Dinesh D’Souza. (Well, come to think of it — Moorlach often does too.) I don’t think that Guerrero will win — but I think that he could get close enough to make Ma look weak — and she richly deserves that. If you’re not incensed enough by her disgusting meddling in OC politics to vote against her — and I know that that’s a big step — that’s fine: just skip this one.

Vern: NO WAY I’m voting for Fiona Ma, in fact I’m gonna vote AGAINST her, so Guerrero it is. Greg leaves something out about Fiona that maybe he didn’t know, not living in Anaheim: Fiona is the ONLY politician to kick my town in the balls by endorsing Lorri Galloway for Mayor.

Yeah, my bad. What I had intended to leave out is speculation about the nature of her relationship with Serrano.

Attorney General: Rob Bonta (D, ai) v. Nathan Hochman (R)

I was skeptical of Rob Bonta before he was appointed to this office after President Biden drafted Xavier Becerra into his Cabinet, because I wasn’t sure that he had Becerra’s excellent legal skills. I have been nothing but impressed with the way he’s running his office, his judiciousness, and his accomplishments so far. He won’t be running for Governor anytime soon — he has two terms to go as AG, and as he’s only 50 he’ll have plenty of time — but he’s the class of this group thus for. (I apologize to him if my saying so dooms his career, but my role here is to traffic in the truth.)

Vern: Rob Bonta has been a big disappointment, just like all the California Attorney Generals I can remember. He’s done NOTHING (that I’ve heard of) on my two biggest issues – police brutality and political corruption. ‘Member when he came around Anaheim, checked out the Stadium Heist, and told Harry Sidhu that he just had to put in more Housing and everything’d be fine? (Thank God for the FBI!)

In the OC we’ve had abysmal DA’s these last 20 years, but like Kamala and whoever-else before him, that’s fine with the collegial Bonta. Nothing on police brutality or corruption, but Rob did come down to Buena Park last month and assured the DPOC that he would fight tooth and nail to make sure women retain their reproductive rights. Really, that’s what we need an AG for, in California?

So I can’t vote for Rob but I sure don’t want a Republican AG either. So more Zen whiteness here…

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara (D, i) v. Robert Howell (R)

Ricardo Lara was not my first choice for Insurance Commissioner four years ago and has been a weak reflection of his predecessor Dave Jones. But I think that he’s better than Howell — and that if he runs for Governor few people will care. So, fine, I endorse him. I hope that he ups his game.

Vern: I don’t want a Republican Insurance Commissioner either (and I think I’ve seen that happen) so I’ll spot a little ink in the Lara box.

It was that really rich guy who ran for Governor whose last name sounded like “Poisoner.”

Board of Equalization, District 4: Mike Schaefer (qD, qi) v. David Dodson! (D)

Without question, vote for DAVID DODSON over the spouse abusing, public money wasting, slacking, campaign-strategist-hiring using public money, warrant-evading, lying, shamelessly manipulating, double-disbarred slumlord Schaefer — and I know I’m leaving things out! — and tell everyone you know to do the same. And you may want to pointedly ask DPOC Chair Ada Briceño why she’s defending this piece of scum who, among other things, complains about having to print BOE documents in Spanish because everyone here should be fluent in English. Wake the hell up, Ada! And take away the UNITE-HERE endorsement of this ass-boil too!

Vern: Finally, a race I consider IMPORTANT. (Morally at least.) DODSON! DODSON! Rah-rah-rah!



U.S. Senate, Full Term: Alex Padilla (D, ai) v. Mark Meuser (R)

U.S. Senate, Short Term (Kamala Vacancy): Alex Padilla (D, ai) v. Mark Meuser (R)

This should have been Xavier Becerra’s seat, but Biden has to do Biden. Alex Padilla is a reliable vote and has more still-functioning neurons in his stomach lining than Dianne Feinstein has left in her whole head. Endorsed.

Vern: If I save ink on this one, will that affect the balance of the US Senate? Nah…


CA-38: Linda Sánchez (D, qi) v. Eric Ching (R)

Loretta’s little sister has always been good, she’s still good, and she will continue to be good. Endorsed. I don’t even care who Eric Ching is. I still think that she’d have been a better pick for Vice-President, but not as good as Karen Bass .

CA-40: Young Kim (R, qi) v. Asif Mahmood! (D)

This is a district that I’ve been arguing should exist for years: the “East Orange County” district that stretches from beyond the sparsely populated hills of Eastern Brea, through the canyons, to just above the South County coastal cities. It is not naturally a Democratic district. But this year, Democrat Asif Mahmood — who lost the Insurance Commissioner race to Ricardo Lara four years ago, as mentioned above — could pull out a surprising win. The quasi-incumbent is Young Kim, who used to live in Fullerton, then moved to Buena Park, and now — well, I’m not sure where she lives right now (you don’t have to live in a Congressional District to represent it), but I know where her heart is: wherever establishment Republican former Congressman Ed Royce buried it years ago. She is sort of the Lou Correa of the Republican Party and Mahmood is the equivalent of the Republican who could only win if a left-winger took away enough of Correa’s vote to win.

Well, in the spring primary Kim defeated a Republican well to her right — outgoing Mission Viejo Mayor Greg Raths — with whom I disagree on policy but whose character and decency I respect. (That was tested this year by his having photos taken of him at CPAC with Donald Trump and — somehow worseRoger Stone. But perhaps by now he’s learned that pandering that hard to his base was a bad idea.) So now here’s the situation from the MAGA crowd’s perspective: do they they help Young Kim into a seat far from her home that — like Lou Correa — she will probably be in until she dies, or do they support Mahmood (either with votes or abstentions) in the hope of being able to knock out Mahmood in two years? These voters really despise Young Kim, so I suspect that it will be the latter. I’m endorsing Mahmood to serve at least one term — and encouraging Republicans to join me!

Vern: This is your most important task in “East OC” – elect Dr. Mahmood! We CANNOT lose Congress.

PS Heard him speak, for the second time, the other night at Hari’s Meet-and-Greet. This guy is like the second coming of Gandhi. COMPELLING.

CA-45: Michelle Steel (R, qi) v. JAY CHEN! (D)

Michelle Steel is the dim and hapless hand puppet of her husband Shawn Steel, a bigwig in national Republican politics, who had enough clout to have the state Republican Party to have them test out their FAKE VOTE CENTERS where she happened to be running. And when I say that she’s dim, I differentiate her from other Asian women who have been prominent in the county. Lisa Bartlett and Young Kim are both as smart as your average Republican man; Janet Nguyen and Ling Ling Chang perhaps a bit less so, but Steel makes both them both look like geniuses. She is generally not allowed to speak off-script — and one those occasions when she does it becomes clear why.

Jay Chen, on the other hand, is one of our brightest Democrats: an intelligence officer, fluent in Mandarin Chinese and very good in Spanish, and can give you thoughtful and insightful discussions about policy issues even if you wake him up with a phone call at 2:00 a.m. (I’m not going to explain how I know that.) (OK, I don’t actually know that, but it seems true.) Steel has been running one of the most expensive and disgustingly dishonest campaigns against him that this county has seen in recent memory. (See this recent story of mine for some examples.) So ignore every glossy mailer you get attacking Chen and supporting Steel — the Republican Establishment is desperate to keep this goofball in place. It’s going to be a tight race, especially given it’s LA County precincts — and this is a great place to put both your money and your volunteer efforts. We need people as super-smart as Chen in our county’s delegation.

Vern: YEAH, these two are like night and day. And the Orange Juice Blog has been supporting Jay Chen (as well as attacking the Steels) for at least a decade. Don’t just vote for Jay, do what you can to go out and help him!

CA-46: Lou Correa (qD, qi) v. Christopher J. Gonzalez (R)

I would call Lou Correa “the Joe Manchin of the House of Representatives” except for one thing: Manchin represents an extremely conservative and coal-based constituency in West Virginia, whereas Correa represents Santa Ana and some reasonably liberal parts of Anaheim. A Democrat does not need to be that moderate to win this seat; in fact, arousing the masses in a way that Correa has no ability to do might actually help! But outside interests spend heavily for Correa to keep what should be a seat capable of giving Congress another Xavier Becerra. The representation in this and the largely overlapping Assembly district that Tom Daly long held have been the saddest failures in Orange County politics. And it all comes down to money spent by big donors. Control of Congress is too important to tell you to vote for Christopher Gonzalez, with whose policies I disagree. But even the mighty power of the Orange Juice Blog telling you to skip this race — while voting in others, to make clear that you’re skipping intentionally — will not remove Correa from power. So don’t be afraid to reject both bad alternatives. Maybe something good will come of that.

Vern: Yeah, we can’t be losing a single Democrat in Congress, but I’m not worried about Lou losing. Hey, did you hear about the time he stood up to the Jan. 6 insurrectionists? Best thing he’s done!

If it was during the attack, I’ll give him credit, especially if it involved a baseball bat. If it was after it was safe, that’s a low bar — albeit one that many Republicans still can’t clear.

CA-47: Katie Porter! (D, qi) v. Scott Baugh (R)

I find Katie Porter sort of off-putting, which I mention simply to show that you too, Dear Reader, can have the same reaction to her and still strongly favor her re-election. Some of her shots at those in power can be cheap — I don’t really care whether the Postmaster General knows the price of a first-class stamp off the top of his head, because that’s the sort of thing that can be looked up, and the problem with Trumps Postmaster General was egregious policies, not lack of knowledge — but by and large they are devastating and instructive. Malefactors in power fear her mighty whiteboard — and the only people in the whole country who can keep it in Congress are the members of this district. Rich interests from all over want her gone — and replaced with the shady corporate stooge Scott Baugh (who has also alienated some of his MAGA voters) — and this too is a good place to put your time and money.

Vern: *I* don’t find Katie off-putting. She has a pig on her front porch made out of a propane tank, but I lost my picture of it. If we lose this one, we lose not only a Democrat but one of our best Democrats. So, GET OUT AND HELP KATIE! (Bonus points for having HB and Newport elect a Democrat.)

I don’t find her pig on the porch off-putting at all. It’s the “gotcha” stunts that I think detract from her best work.

CA-49: Mike Levin (D, qi) v. Brian Maryott (R)

My expectations of Mike Levin in his early career in Congress were not high, but he’s actually been quite good. Bryan Maryott has been competitive with him in the past, but the district has moved south a bit — less Orange County and more San Diego County — which means that I not only endorse Levin, but I expect him to win.

Vern: Remember when we thought Mike was gonna suck, and then he turned out to be really pretty good? Oh yeah, you just said that. RE-ELECT MIKE LEVIN!


SD-30: Bob Archuleta (D) v. Mitch Clemmons (R)

We had a really good primary candidate in this district out of Whittier. But a second similarly good candidate was also in the race, so he lost. Bob Archuleta seems like an old-school macho ex-cop Democrat who is fighting some sexual harassment accusations and trying to keep his record as a cop sealed. His volunteers calling me before the primary knew nothing about it; I explained to them why I didn’t want a sign and told then not to feel bad and just keep going for the experience. Mitch Clemmons is an underfunded plumber who’s just too far left to make him an acceptable protest vote. So I’m going to skip this race: I’ve laid it out, and you can do what you want. Archuleta wins regardless.

SD-32: Brian Nash (D) v. Kelly Seyarto (R)

The main (maybe sole?) OC portion of this district is Yorba Linda, plus maybe a little of northmost Anaheim Hills. Both candidates are from Temecula. Bryan Nash is not especially polished, but he has a decent website that attacks Kelly Seyarto as a MAGA stooge who ducks critical votes in the Assembly. Good enough for me. Nash Endorsed! Sure, Seyarto seems like a lock — but fight the power!

SD-34: Tom Umberg (D, qi) v. Rhonda Shader (R)

Among the moderates in OC, Tom Umberg is one of the better ones. Rhonda Shader is conservative, but has been part of Placentia’s drive to cut its pension liability, which is appealing. But Umberg’s recent leadership on — um, I forget (Vern will remember) — lead me to give him a nod. Reasonable people may disagree on this one.

Vern: What Greg is thinking of was Tom’s SB 361 to prevent certain corruption that we saw in the Anaheim Stadium Heist – remember, Dan printed the press release. That was good. I also recently gave Tom (and Josh Newman) credit for being OC’s ONLY TWO LAWMAKERS to support the rights of teenagers to get vaccinated without parental permission.. So, sometimes he’s good. He’s unpredictable. Vote for him if you want, he’ll win anyway. And Democrats won’t lose their Senate Supermajority even if he didn’t.

I think that Shader could beat him in this district. If it happened, it would be due to his not cultivating the left as well as the center — and that in turn comes from the Correa-like DPOC opposing it. And if he loses, they’ll displace responsibility onto the voters, as if their job is not turning out (rather than turning off) those same voters.

SD-36: Janet Nguyen (R, qi) v. Kim Carr! (D)

Kim Carr has been an impressive, if largely moderate, member of the Huntington Beach City Council. Janet Nguyen as been a dirty politician for a long time, including participation in the fraudulent vote center issues that also affected Michelle Steel. If the new Registrar of Voters is really going to be a hard-ass about verifying signatures, as he appears prepared to be, he should hire some Vietnamese deputies to review the signatures coming out of Garden Grove nursing homes, where I’ve gotten all sorts of complaints about ballot fraud — though no one has felt safe to go on the record. Nguyen has also been spotted breaking all sorts of electioneering rules in polling stations — and again, people are afraid to go on the record. People should take surreptitious videos of her, if she’s doing these things, so she can get busted. Unlike some Democrats, I believe that some vote fraud does exist — and the ones complaining loudest about it are generally “playing the refs” — and her name keeps coming up. Definitely endorsing Carr!

Vern: SOMEONE’S gotta finally put Janet out to pasture. GO, CARR, GO!

SD-38: Matt Gunderson (R) v. Catherine Blakespear (D)

This district goes from South OC way down the San Diego County coastline. Catherine Blakespear is the Mayor of Encinitas and seems to be a strong and appealing Democrat. It will be a pleasure to have her in the Orange County delegation — and pretty amusing that the cities she’ll be representing here are Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, somehow not San Clemente, and the unincorporated areas around Ladera Ranch — not our most liberal areas! Matt Gunderson has lots of endorsements from Republican officials, especially in MV and RSM. Given the overwhelming San Diego coastal vote, though, he will still get smoked. Blakespear endorsed!

Vern: Yah, I’m with Blakespear.


AD-59: Phillip Chen (R) v. Leon Sit (NPP)

Phillip Chen is a relatively innocuous member of the Republican Assembly delegation, so I don’t really mind having him as my representative in this highly red district. Leon Sit is a UCLA college student and libertarian. I’ll probably vote for Sit just to hold Chen’s margin down — just in case someone I like wants to run in 2024.

Vern: SIT! SIT! SIT!

Greg: Stand up for Sit! Roll over for Sit! Sit DOOOOWN!

AD-64: Blanca Pacheco (D) v. Raul Ortiz, Jr. (R)

This district includes only La Habra within Orange County. The rest is all LA — La Mirada, Downey, Bell, and a bunch more. I endorse Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco, who seems nice enough. Raul Ortiz seems dismal and doomed.

Vern: MY question is why do so many people who live in La Habra – including Latinos – including Rose Espinoza – pronounce it “La HARbra???” What’s up with that?

Chill out, rbro!

AD-67: Sharon Quirk-Silva! (D) v. Soo Yoo (R)

Of course I endorse Sharon Q-S, who is trying to win her fifth term in the Assembly, and will have the added influence that comes with longevity. Soo Yoo is an ABC School Board Member from Cerritos who does not seems to have done a good job with Covid policy. (I’m looking for the reference I had for that but haven’t found it yet. Commenters?) Yoo is reportedly having her campaign funded by Young Kim. (Still holding a grudge over losing the second time around, Young?) Sharon won by 6.6% in the primary, and both Dems led both Republicans by 7.0%, so this looks like a competitive race, but Sharon would likely be favored here.

Vern: Sharon’s an old friend of mine, who always takes my calls, listens to my ideas, explains herself if we disagree. And that’s important – being ACCESSIBLE (especially to a blogger!) She’s really good on certain issues – the HUMANE ones – like housing, homelessness, mental illness.

On the other hand she’s been disappointing me more and more often – her votes on other issues, and even more, her ENDORSEMENTS of very shitty Democrats. She is very worried, as she is every two years, about losing her seat. I DON’T THINK SHE NEEDS TO BE. But yeah, vote for Sharon if that’s your district, for sure.

I think that she does need to be worried, so I’m more forgiving. No one yet knows how this new district will behave. The endorsements sometimes suck — but the endorsement game always sucks, so hate the game. Someday I hope to see her as Superintendent of Public Instruction — and no, we have never discussed that.

AD-68: Avelino Valencio (D) v. Mike Tardif (R)

Mike Tardif — a long-term scabrous commenter here before I tossed him out one time too many — has asked that he not be considered for our endorsement. Request denied! This is one of the risks you take when you run for office! But whichever way I come down, it will be less about Tardif than about Avelino Valencia — the Anaheim City Councilman who slipped into office two years ago based on Disney money. (Independent Expenditures, as I recall — but who knows how “I” the “E”s?) My problem is that if Avelino gets into this position — which opened up after a surprise decision by Daly not to file for re-election — then he’ll be there for 12 years. So the real question is: “do I want Avelino in the Assembly for 12 years?” OK — the real question is not whether I want it, but whether I could abide it.) … Back in June, once I got over being pissed at Daly’s very likely pre-arranged plan to hand off the baton to his senior aide, I probably would have grumbled and said “OK.” But then the perpetrators of Anaheist scandal tried to wish it away — and Avelino not only started out on the wrong side of it, but he has persisted being on the wrong side of it.

So no, I can’t say that it’s OK to send Avelino to Sacramento for a dozen years in the wake of this scandal. Let Tardif go there and — inevitably — make a total ass out of himself, precipitate massive protest rallies back in his home office, and bring discredit to his party. (Or maybe we’ll learn that he actually can behave if he wants to.) Let the Democratic powers-that-be know that there is a limit to how much voters will take from them — and two years from now we’ll hopefully have a nominee — reformist or centrist — who is willing to stand up to the powers plaguing Anaheim and Santa Ana. And if the seat stays in Republican hands for a dozen years because the Democratic powers that be prefer that they public capitulate rather than their having to reform — well, that will be a very prominent self-inflicted wound that would probably end up drawing national comment. It surprises me to conclude this, but if I lived in this district and didn’t see Avelino pretty much turn into Dr. Moreno’s twin before I cast my ballot, that ballot would be marked for Mike Tardif, who has my reluctant endorsement — and had better put this endorsement on his literature (if he has any.)

Vern: I gotta give Avelino credit for at least one thing – he’s always been polite to me and listened to my ideas despite my having nailed him with the song AVELINO VENDIDO which STILL stands the test of time in each line. And he did support Jose’s campaign finance reform back in June/July. Tardif has been an asshole on this blog for 20 years (but at least he’s OUR asshole as they say.) I don’t think I agree with Tardif on much of anything. I wasn’t going to endorse either of these men.

But the final straw with Avelino is now I’m seeing him on TV EVERY NIGHT (MSNBC) trying hard to get Anaheim Democrats to vote for Natalie Rubalcava – the C.O.O. of the pinche OC Business Council – over the worthy Al Jabbar. This sends me into such rage that I will join Greg in endorsing our frenemy Mike Tardif. Also I think Mike surpasses Avelino in the “means what he says, says what he means” category.

PS did I mention that when Avelino ran for Council two years ago, he promised to stay for four years? I-yi’-yi’-yi’-yi’m not your Stepping Stone!

AD-70: Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen! (D) v. Tri Ta (R)

Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen has compiled one of the most impressive records of reformist performance during her first years in office of any City Councilmember in the county. She’s an example of the future generation of Little Saigon politicians who won’t stand for the sleaze that has brought shame to its cities. Tri Ta by contrast — which I think that Vern will talk about in his comments — has exemplified the problems And if their parties were reversed, I would come to the exact same conclusion. This is an easy call: I enthusiastically endorse Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen for State Assembly.

Vern: I knew I liked Diedre, but I did not realize this, about her being Ms. Super-Reformer! I’d like to hear more about that. But I guess my job here, having been handed the baton, is to warn you off her opponent TRI TA. One, he was installed onto the OC Water District to be a dependable vote for the Poseidon Boondoggle, and while Poseidon is thankfully dead now, it still stands the test of time as a litmus test – any politician who supported it was either a vendido, a fool, or both. Also Tri Ta was one of the three notoriously corrupt Councilmen whom the good citizens of Westminster attempted to recall two years ago – that, and a Mayor as tyrannical and high-handed as Harry Sidhu. (Does all that add up to… COMMUNIST?) Diedre all the way!

AD-71: Matt Rahn (R) v. Kate Sanchez (R)

This district weds Temecula, Murrieta, and Wildomar in Riverside County to the Orange County cities of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita and the unincorporated areas around them: Ladera Ranch, Coto de Caza, Rancho Mission Viejo, Las Flores, Trabuco Canyon, Silverado, Modjeska, and Williams Canyon. Matt Rahn is a MAGA extremist from Temecula. Kate Sanchez is more of a traditional Republican anti-tax type who worked for Ed Royce. If I lived in this district, and I couldn’t move away in time, I’d probably go with Sanchez, who is a less baroque form of scary. Why Democrats could not find anyone to get into the runoff — it would have only taken 33.34% of the vote to guarantee a spot — is a mystery. I won’t blame people who can’t stand to vote for either of them, but I think that Rahn is likelier to be a regional embarrassment. If you think that that’s good — well, vote accordingly.

Vern: Sometimes I wonder if we should be wasting our time on every one of these districts, but … that’s what Greg wants to do. And tens of thousands of people read these guides each time, so maybe he’s right.

This is going to be non-Coastal South County’s Rep! We’ll be protesting them a lot! I’d rather have a near-normal GOP rep to protest!

AD-72: Diane Dixon (R) v. Judie Mancuso (D)

Diane Dixon is not the worst Republican of the bunch — we invite her to comment here about who she considers to be worse — but Judie Mancuso is solid, smart, and hardworking — and would be much better.

Vern: Still the only thing I know about Judie is that we played music together 20 years ago, and I don’t even know if she remembers. But I hear good things about her, so… yes.

AD-73: Cottie Petrie-Norris (D, qi) v. Steve Choi (R, qi)

Two incumbents pitted against one another in a district stretching from Irvine to the Coast. A lot of people have problems with Cottie Petrie-Norris for some of her votes, but it looks to me like on some of the main ones (like public health insurance) Governor Newsom lobbied her directly, claimed he was bringing in a better option — and ended up just having lied to her. I can’t blame her, as a junior Assembly member, for getting snookered by a practiced liar whom she had reason to trust. Steve Choi is an “Impeach Pelosi!” jerk with a far worse voting record. This is not the sort of “Avelino Valencia” situation I discuss in AD-68, where it would be better to lose and hope for a better 2024 replacement. Cottie is about as good a representative as you would be able to find from this wealthy and not-that-liberal (unlike AD-68) district. I endorse her.

Vern: Wouldn’t it be cool if, every now and then, a politician who refuses to take any kind of brave votes LOST THEIR SEAT for that instead of keeping it? Just sayin’. (Note that Cottie’s name remains green above, not orange.)

AD-74: Laurie Davies (R. qi) v. Chris Duncan (D)

Vern likes Chris Duncan, who seems to be a hero to the sorts of Democrats who fear and loathe reformers, and he thinks that Laurie Davies is horrible. OK, I’ll defer to Vern on this one. (I’d probably end up voting for him too, but I promised you some violet if Vern is the only endorser and this is a rare chance to see it!)

Vern: This new story of mine makes the case that, 1) Duncan is an honest moderate Democrat, the kind who could win a seat on San Clemente Council and go on to fight against the 241 toll road extension (which is MY litmus test in the South County), while 2) Laurie Davies is a corrupt empty-suit tool of the Bealls who voted FOR the toll road extension into San Clemente while on the TCA, AS WELL AS 3) a MAGA extremist who spoke at mask-burning Trump rallies with insurrectionists (and is also pathetically trying to outlaw abortion in CALIFORNIA.) I report, you decide.


Superior Court

Office 30: Michele Bell! v. Peggy Huang

The Ballot Designations are misleading! As a Court Commissioner, Michele Bell is essentially a AAA-league Judge ready to be called up to the major leagues. She has a sterling reputation, experience in running a courtroom, and support across the political system. It may sound like a Deputy Attorney General is more on point with that, but it isn’t: Huang’s position has nothing to do with prosecution at all, let along with running a courtroom; it’s just that everyone admitted to the bar within the AG’s office gets this title (at a minimum). She runs some sort of youth crime diversion program, or something like that, as I recall. Valid work, but not prosecution-or-judge prep.

Vern: Michele (one “L” like the Martinez of yore) Bell – Lauren Johnson-Norris thinks the world of her, and that’s enough for me! Also, Peggy Huang was, among many other things, a toll troll on the TCA, and a particularly arrogant one at that.

Supreme Court and Intermediate Appellate Court

I’m not even going to list them. Just vote to retain all of the incumbents, including the ones appointed by Republican Governors. If any of them were so awful as to be ripe targets for removal from the bench, we’d all be hearing about it. Failing that, just skip these races. Don’t vote “no” just to protest; you have many other outlets here.

Vern: OK. That was easy.


Let’s get one thing clear about education races: More than any previous year in memory, some candidates who are anti-public education, Covid Truthers, MAGA promoters, charter school profiteers, or politicizing teaching are not saying so outright — but rather including dog whistles in their candidate statements or endorsement lists. I’m trying to go through all of their candidate statements, and often website, looking for such dog whistles. If you want someone who’s trying to ransack public education, drive out “wokeness” (meaning courtesy and attentiveness to social justice and actual history) and sex education — then I guess I’m doing you a service here if you’re too inept to find those dog whistles yourself. But for those of you who DON’T want to be accidentally supporting all of these sorts of groups, I’m telling you who seems to be part of them.

Vern: Absolutely agree. This is an existential battleground. Let’s filter out The Crazy and The Stoopid, and let’s filter them out right now!

Superintendent of Public Instruction (non partisan)

Tony Thurmond! (but D) v. Lance Ray Christensen (but R)

Thurmond is for serving and preserving the public education system. Christensen support diverting resources to charter schools, which are unregulated and prone to break rules against practices like excluding undesired students.

Vern: Thurmond, no-brainer.


North Orange County Community College District

District 1Barbara Dunsheath (i) v. Blaze Bhence

Barbara Dunsheath seems to be doing a decent job. Blaze Bhence‘s statement seems oddly like an ad for his book; that’s OK, but it doesn’t justify an endorsement.

District 6: Jeffrey Brown (i) v. Jessica Rutan

Jessica Rutan’s dog whistle is her citing an affinity for “Parents Voice,” the “cultural conservative jihad on public schools” movement. So non-extremist incumbent Jeffrey Brown has my support, period.

Coast Community College District

Area 1: Jim Moreno (i) v. Russell Neal II

If there had been even one non-MAGA/Covidiot candidate running against Jim Moreno, I would have endorsed them. But alas, only Covid Truther Russell Neal signed up to challenge him, and so Moreno deserves another four years.

Vern: Moreno (no, not THAT Moreno, and not the OTHER one) is one of my oldest (HB) Dem friends in OC, and he’s the guy who nominated me to get the Democrats’ Volunteer of the Year back in 2008 (which surprised me as even back then I regularly went off the reservation.) In the years since, Union Jim and I have disagreed on nearly everything two Democrats could disagree on. But as a college trustee he’s been fine – especially if there’s a danger of some nutjob taking over, so yes on Jim Moreno! (The red-faced Moreno.)

Rancho Santiago Community College District

Area 2: John Hanna (i) v. Steve Rocco


I have had my differences with John Hanna, an amiable but deadly ninja emissary from the anti-reform Labor faction — but those differences are not big enough for me to want to see Steve Rocco elected. (This was a truly weird choice of opponent on Rocco’s part.)

Vern: Remember the Hanna-Barbaro days at DPOC? I last saw Hanna just … last week, at Al Jabbar’s fundraiser, which is a big plus. On the other hand, I’m not too worrried about good ol’ Rocco beating him. (Fun fact – Lou Correa hates me so much these days that he now calls ME “the new Rocco!” Fun historical fact – Steve Rocco actually did get on a school board about 14 years ago thanks to MATT CUNNINGHAM, who was just blindly supporting anyone who was anti-teachers’ union – ha – thanks Matt!)

South Orange County Community Council District

Area 4: Terry Whitt Rydell! v. Derek Reeve

Incumbent Terry Whitt Rydell has one important qualification for this office that Derek Reeve will never have: She is not Derek Reeve. She’s also exceptionally qualified for this position. Accordingly, we strongly endorse her, twice.

Vern: We’ve been getting a hell of a lotta hits the last few days on our 2019 “the Swallows” story “The Con of San Juan? Burning Questions About Derek Reeve.” A grifter AND a far-right loonie, Derek is NOT someone you’d wanna see on a school board. Rydell it is! . . .

Area 6: Ryan Dack v. Pramod Kunju

I don’t think that this race is clear cut, but Dack is a teacher and has endorsements from many people I like. Kunju represents himself as an entrepreneur and has ties to a non-profit that has some surface appeal, but leads me wondering about what steak there is beneath the sizzle, and is at any rate only tangential to education..

Vern: … and Ryan has the good sense and grace to thank us for our endorsement in the comments below – way to consolidate your support and “stick the landing!” This educator knows the value of the “Orange Juice Bump.”


Brea Olinda Unified School District Trustee

Area 1: Carrie Flanders (qi) v. Nicole Colon (qi)

I’m not alone among Breans in wishing that Carrie Flanders had instead run for City Council, where a strong third choice was really needed this year — and she’d have been wonderful. While I prefer her for office over Nicole Colon, Colon would also have been my third choice for Brea City Council had she run. That these two incumbents face one another is one of the scars one sometimes gets from redistricting; without disparaging Colon, I favor Flanders — who has been especially strong in a job that was especially tough during the peak (we hope) Covid years.

Vern: The legendary Jodi Balma weighed in on this race in the comments section. (Have we invited her to blog with us, Greg?) And I thought I should paste that up here. Here’s JODI:

Nicole Colon is a great choice for Brea Schools in Area 1. She reaches out to community members, advocates for our schools, and has pushed hard to hire great principals and district staff who are doing great things for our schools.

I’m happy to endorse Nicole Colon and Chris Becerra for Brea-Olinda Unified School District.

I believe that she knows that she is welcome to post stories here at any time, and we’ve talked about having a regular cross-post of her podcast “A Slice of Orange.” I don’t think that she has time to put in the work of a full-time blog partner; beside which she is very respectable and you are, as I understand it, “the new Steve Rocco.”

Area 4: Andrea Dibsy v. Chris Becerra

Andrea Dibsy seems perfectly nice, but Chris Becerra also seems superbly qualified. I couldn’t find endorsement information for either.

Capistrano Unified School District Trustee

Area 2, Short Term:

  • Kira Davis
  • Michael Parham
  • Jessica Hubbard (give her love, but not your vote)

I liked two of these candidates. Michael Parham gets my endorsement not only for his qualifications, but for one big additional factor: Jessica Hubbard, apparently realizing that she was going to split the vote in the race and possibly elect a politicized Covidiot, stepped away from the race and endorsed Parham. A hundred huzzahs for Hubbard! If we give out awards for Political Valor, one will go to Hubbard — an executive with “Girls Inc.” (formerly the “Girls Club of America”) — and I want to see her running for (or appointed to) something else soon! The third candidate, Kira Davis, is a big “nope!”

Area 4:

  • Darin Patel
  • Gary Pritchard
  • Jim Glantz

Patel’s candidate statement is nice, but short on relevant experience. Pritchard’s statement comes off as somewhat conservative — surprising me, but people do change — but if so it’s a respectable sort of anti-waste conservatism. Glantz has the Mark of the Barke — part of the “hobble or tear down public education” madness, from which nothing good comes.

Vern: I have a history with this district from 2010, when I cheerled and documented the Counter-Revolution against the hardcore rightwingers who had revolted against the tyrannical Fleming – see my “Capo Recall Primer.” The only name I recognize from those days is Pritchard, and I’m waiting for him to respond to my question of who else we should support. Till I hear back, I’ll go with Greg’s judgment!

Area 7: Judy Bullockus v. Jessica Contreras

It’s not that I think that incumbent Judy Bullockus is a bad choice — although I think that these days the possible dog-whistle phrase “American values in education” needs some unpacking — but that I think that her opponent Jessica Contreras‘s candidate statement and experience are extremely impressive.

Garden Grove Unified School District Trustee

Area 2:

  • Mark Anthony Paredes
  • Lan Quoc Nguyen (qi)
  • Nicole Jaimes

I don’t see any bad choices here. Jaimes has decent priorities, but I think that Paredes seems more likely to be able to put them into effect. Nguyen notes some significant accomplishments, but it’s hard to know how much of that is personal effort and how much the whole board. Paredes seems best situated to represent all of the interest groups that come together to make schools work, including teachers, so he has my endorsement.

Vern: Mark Anthony is very close to Anaheim’s legendary Dr Moreno, which is good.

Irvine Unified School District Trustee

Area 2:

  • Marlene Bronson
  • Katie McEwen
  • Debra Hilton Kamm

Katie McEwen seems to be the clear choice of the Democratic establishment in Irvine; I think of Irvine as having good schools (despite some other efficiencies), so that’s significant. I can’t tell if Bronson is dog-whistling with her talk of having homeschooled her children and citing the Declaration of Independence as a font of guidance for teaching, but while she wants nice things she doesn’t show a lot of experience to provide them. Kamm may or may not realize that she’s employing soft dog-whistles with her talk of parent’s rights and how students have been mentally affected by Covid, but lots of terrible policies are being smuggled in under those bright banners. Sadly, the extremists provoke a hard examination of candidates who may not actually be extreme. Either way, McEwen seems like the safest choice.

Los Alamitos Unified School District

Area 1: Marlys Davidson (qi) v. Colin Edwards

Marlys Davidson’s candidate statement strikes a perfect tone: she’s not casting blame at people for how they dealt with the crisis of Covid, but focusing on assessment of the damage done and how it can be repaired. Colin Edwards offers no relevant experience and an endorsement from Dean Grose. Spare our children the likes of that! I endorse Davidson by a mile.

Area 3: Diana Hill (qi) v. Rona Goldberg

Diana Hill has a great candidate statement, pointing out how they monitored the work funding bonds and brought it in on time and under budget. Rona Goldberg’s statement is full of dog-whistles. (Sadly, one can’t even know what “former elementary school teacher” even conveys in an age of conservative charter schools.)

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Area 2: Danielle Mills v. Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphy has impressive qualifications and a record of accomplishment. Danielle Mills describes herself as “just a mom” endorsed by Mari Barke. How did we get to the point of having this sort of choice? Murphy, obviously.

Area 4: Kristen Nicole ValleLisa Pearson, and Barbara George.

Valle’s statement is a MAGA horror show, while George is the one with the Barke and Ken Williams endorsements. Hope they split the vote! Pearson has the reasonable and informed statement; she gets my endorsement.

Area 5: Michelle Barto (qi) v. Reina Shebesta

Both candidates’ statements are pretty good; not a lot of red flags here. Shebesta is a School Counselor who complains about her having been unable to promote reforms within the district from the outside. I’ll give her a slight nod in a close contest.

Area 7: Ashley Anderson (qi), Vicky Rodriguez, and Kristen Seaburn

Anderson, who’s currently on the board, gives an excellent accounting of what she has accomplished. Seaburn starts out with a reasonable statement and then at the end devolves into opposing “politically influenced propaganda” etc. Sigh. I liked what Rodriguez had to say, but it was pretty general and didn’t address tradeoffs — a “more good things and less bad things!” sort of platform. I think that it’s safest to go with what looks like a highly credible incumbent.

Orange Unified School District Trustee

Area 1: Andrea Yamasaki (qi) v. Angela Williams

Yamasaki seems to have done a good job. Williams has the mark of the Barke. Easy choice here!

Area 4: Kathy Moffett (qi) v. Madison Klovstad Miner

As above: Moffett seems to have done a good job, while Miner has the mark of the Barke.

Area 5: Kris Erikson (qi) v. Timothy Surridge

Here as well: Erikson seems to have a good record of achievement; Surridge has the mark of the Barke.

Area 7: Rick Ledesma (qi) v. Mike Nguyen v. Sean Griffin

Ledesma is the only incumbent who has the mark of the Barke. Nguyen looks like he was campaigning for it. Sean Griffin — the third candidate whom I had (mortifyingly) initially overlooked — looks great! Thanks to my friend Joe for pointing out the critical omission!

Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Trustee

Area 4: Karin Freeman!Steve Lawson, and Todd Frazier

Freeman has done an good job in trying times and has earned reelection. Lawson is a respectable choice for those who don’t like her; Frazier is your basic MAGA raver. Keep Freeman.

Area 5: Carrie Buck! (qi) v. Richard Ingle

Buck has done an great job in trying times and has earned reelection. Ingle is more basic Republican than MAGA raver, but still likely to be a bad vote on a divided board. Stick with Buck!

Rowland Unified School District Trustee

Area 5: Donna Freedman (qi) v. Kevin Hayakawa

Kevin Hayakawa teaches Community College Physics and seems like a good person on a water board, so I’m comfortable endorsing him. Donna Freedman has one of those websites that tell you that it uses cookies and gives you only the opportunity to accept them. She should tell whoever designed her website lost her this endorsement, because I DESPISE that crap!

Saddleback Valley Unified School District Trustee

Area 1: Greg Kunath (qi) v. Dan Walsh

Both candidates have mostly good statements, but only Kunath includes his intent to “oppose the current sex education curriculum being pushed by Sacramento.” The fact that even the Barke candidates aren’t pushing this line in their candidate statements suggests to me that this curriculum is not that controversial and that he Kunath is using it as some sort of dog whistle. I invite Kunath to write in here explaining why he thinks that ignorance about age-appropriate sexual matters is so preferable and Walsh to explain what he thinks about this at all. For now, “0 > -1.”

Area 5: Barbara Shulman (qi) v. Jennifer Richter

Schulman has a good statement. Richter sounds so nice until the end where she reveals herself to be a Covidiot. Too bad for her that I read all of the way through to the end! Keep Schulman.

Santa Ana Unified School District Trustee

Area 4: Sylvia IglesiasKatelyn Brazer Acevas, and Andrew Linares

Iglesias has no candidate statement, which I find offputting. Acevas has some very good endorsements. Linares’s statement was good, if a little pat — but those endorsements push me towards endorsing Acevas.

Vern: We know Katie Brazer well, I almost didn’t recognize her with her new surname (congrats Katie!) We know her as a tireless advocate for immigrants and the homeless. Sounds like a good choice for Santa Ana!

Tustin Unified School District Trustee

Area 3: Lynn Davis (qi) v. Kelly Felton

Davis has a good statement justifying her re-election, including an endorsement from Al Mijares! Felton’s statement starts off well, but then goes off the rails when she dives into politics under the pretense of opposing diving into politics. Since she’s relatively cogent, here’s a taste of that:

Parents are the primary educators of their children and should maintain all rights to decide when, where, and how their children will be educated. Sex education should be biology-led, and parents should be able to opt-in, not opt-out for sex ed instruction. I believe in teaching accurate historical events but do not support critical race theory or social justice as educational tools in the K-12 curriculum.

I support the US Constitution that bestows upon us personal sovereignty protecting all students, parents and teachers from government overreach and political indoctrination. I will work to build a cohesive school board that focuses on the children.

We can get into my problems with each of her clauses that I’ve bolded — and the one thing I liked, in italics, but which she doesn’t seem to really mean, whether she realizes that or not — in a separate post. (Slavery, Polk’s war on Mexico, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Jim Crow, Dr. King’s speech, and I won’t even try to include all of the degradations of women) were “accurate historical events,” but she could consider teaching about them “political indoctrination” or possibly even “Critical Race Theory — which they aren’t.) Read her statement again with the lens of her believing that parents should be able to prevent teachers from addressing uncomfortable truths — yes, only as age-appropriate, that’s fine — and you’ll see why this take is stupendously political and completely contrary to the Constitution.

I strongly endorse Lynn Davis, who is rational rather than fanatical.


Anaheim Union High School District Trustee

Area 1: Jessica Guerrero!Linda Martinez, and Billie Joe Wright

Martinez had no candidate statement, so you shall hear of her no more. It seems like most of the people I know and like are for Guerrero, so I’m not going to second-guess them. Her statement is very impressive, not least for showing how extremely well she has prepared herself, even at a young age, for this particular job. Wright’s statement was good, enough so to earn my nod in many other seats, but less inspiring. It’s also weighed down by his mention of his being endorsed by Lou Correa — which just totally figures. Viva Guerrero!

Vern: Yeah my crowd is supporting Jessica, who is wonderful, although either Jessica or Billie would do a good job as far as I can tell. It’s kind of different crowds, different styles – Jessica is grassroots while Billie is establishment/union. Also it is whispered that Billie is a secret acolyte of the disgraced Jordan Brandman, and part of Jordan’s master-plan to get his creepy hands back into the political scene. Maybe so.

I do know that Billie and Jordan are old friends, and that Billie has been telling voters that he doesn’t know who Jordan is. THAT is sketchy. Also sketchy – at Steve White’s request, I FB-messaged Billie to offer to help him organize speakers in favor of his fine OCBOE map, and I could see Billie reading each of my messages and not responding. He was probably thinking “What’ll Jordan say if I’m friendly with the guy who just drove him out of public life?” So you see why I’m more with young Jessica…

Fullerton Joint Union High School District Trustee

Area 4: Lauren Klatzker (qi) v. Matthew Van Hook

Board President Klatzker seems to have done a good job. Van Hook made it almost all the way through his statement before dropping the dog whistle: “It is time to return our education priorities to first principles and reject the politicization of our local schools.” Saying to “return our education[al] priorities to first principles” — to the limited extent that it’s cogent at all — IS “politicization of our local schools”; it’s just a politicization that social conservatives happen to like. I’d like to debate this guy myself!

Huntington Beach Union, High School District Board Members (3)

  • Duane Dishno (i)
  • Diana Lee Carey (i)
  • Bonnie P Castrey (i)
  • Scott Rogers
  • Angela Salinardi
  • Matthew Harper
  • Christine Hernandez
  • Saul Lankster

First, thank you to Scott Rogers for not providing a candidate statement. It means that you won’t be considered for an endorsement, but it reduces my workload here a bit. I’ll link to the statements of each of the other candidates. (I know that the endorsements up there are a giveaway, but just pretend that you haven’t see them yet!)

I’ll go through these here as I did in real time, starting at the bottom. Saul Lankster has been running for this position for as long as I remember covering these races, and I think that it’s time that he gets his chance. So I’m inclined to endorse him, but I’ll go through the rest of the list before firmly deciding. As he’s last, we’ll move upwards from there. I find Christine Hernandez’s statement nice and unobjectionable, but not especially compelling. Matt Harper’s rousing pro-Prop 13 statement really doesn’t tell me much about what he’d do substantively as a trustee; he can oppose funding schools just as well from the outside. Holistic practitioner Angela Salinardi has the worst statement in this race: pretending to be apolitical while being supremely political. So that leaves me with one likely endorsement, two spots open, and three incumbents to come — with Hernandez still a possibility.

Bonnie Castrey has a particularly strong statement, emphasizing her ability to bring parties together on issues. Skipping ahead, Duane Dishno’s is strong in a different way, spelling out clearly the accomplishments of the Board. I will endorse both Castry and Dishno. So the question becomes: will it be Lankster or the remaining incumbent, Diana Carey, for the final spot?

Carey’s first two paragraphs are boilerplate recitations of the resources that the high schools have and offer. Not really about her qualifications, but nice to read. Her fourth paragraph is about the awards she’s won and her fifth is glurge. But it’s the third paragraph that distinguishes her from other candidates, and I’ll reprint it in full:

Leadership requires fiscal responsibility and community
involvement. I currently serve as: Coastline Community Colleges
Bond Oversite Committee President; Westminster City Measure
SS Oversite Committee Chairwoman; Westminster School District
Bond Oversite Vice President; Rose Center Theater Foundation Vice
President; founder of the USMC Family Adoption Project.

Lady Diana!

I have tried to make Google, MS Word, my phone, and this very program autocorrect a word to “Oversite.” Nothing has worked. And since Carey, in her candidate statement presenting herself to voters, misspells “Oversight” as “Oversite” three times in three lines in a row, despite her leading three “Oversight” Committees, I can only conclude that her misspelling is not an oversight. Frankly, given that she would have had ample time to compose and proofread her statement, it looks to me like she’s lost a step or two. Saul Lankster, despite presumably being older than Carey — marched with Dr. King, served in Vietnam — still seems fully sharp, so lets give him his chance at service while we can. Carey will likely still be around during the next election. I do still rank her fifth, though, after Lankster and Hernandez.

Vern: That’s kind of embarrassing that my good old friend Diana Carey, who I thought was a great Westminster Councilwoman, whom the late Gus Ayer adored (they were inseparable during his last year, and who was the first person to ring the alarm on the 405 Toll Lane Heist, can’t spell “oversight.” Now that I remember, I did used to do her writing for her Facebook page. I still have loyalty to her. She should hire me to do her writing again.

I ended up getting to know her a lot better than Gus ever did, Vern; he only saw the best of her. (And let’s recall that for her, unlike us, that fight was pure self-interest. I liked her — for the same reasons you still do — until I served with her on DPOC. She’s right-wing on foreign affairs — as I suppose befits someone who seems to want to assimilate into Vietnamese culture — and a real hippie-puncher, hard to distinguish from Fran Sdao. I’ll let you know which friend of the blog you should talk to about her. But I’m happy for people to read their statements and choose whether they’re in my camp or yours on this race.

Buena Park School District Trustee

Area 4, Short Term: Brenda Estrada v. Ralph LeFeber

Brenda Estrada is way, way, way more qualified for this position.

Centralia School District Governing Board Member Trustee

Area 1: Henry Chareon (qi), Robert Alexander, and Adan Guzman

Chareon says he’s qualified because of all the great work he’s done for the district in the past two terms and his background in education from UCI. Alexander says he’s qualified because he’s a longtime cop. Guzman says he’s qualified because he’s a Marine. I have to wonder what the latter two think that this job entails.

Vern: Heh heh, good one.

Cypress School District Trustee

Area B: Jon Peat (qi) v. Troy Tanaka

Peat has the better candidate statement — but Tanaka’s is fine, and I think that Cypress needs to de-Peat a spell.

Area C: Sandra Lee (qi) v. Kyle Chang

Chang’s statement is fine; a Social Psychologist from UCI ought to be able to handle this job. Lee might seem more obviously qualified, but her statement includes the following: She will “make decisions based on evidence and effectiveness, not political correctness”. Cyprians: what is she talking about? Is this a dog-whistle that she will oppose the real or imagined excesses of the left? Is she talking about the (much more aptly described) “political correctness” of the right? Why did she go there at all? An anonymous commenter says that Lee is indeed a Young Kim/Michele Steel fan, so we’re endorsing Chang. If Lee shows up and denies it, we’re back to neutral, but we doubt she will.

Fountain Valley School District Governing Board Members (3)

  • Sandra Crandall (i): Good statement, but also GOP endorsement
  • Megan Irvine: Student safety, security, Steve Schultz
  • Trisha Rintoul: Airline pilot, so attention to detail
  • Dennis Cole: Director of Education at OC Dept. of Education; church mentoring of youth
  • Phu Nguyen: bring parent’s perspective, “mold thoughtful and compassionate human beings”
  • Eileen Maeda: foster student inquiry and creativity, emphasize arts education

All of the statements except Rintoul’s are good. (The link from pilot to trustee seems tenuous.) I believe that this is the same Phu Nguyen who ran for Assembly, and I support him on that basis; he seemed like a good guy. I think that Ellen Maeda’s perspective deserves a place on the school board. I hate to do this but I see that Sandra Crandall has the GOP endorsement and, while she may be fantastic, in this politicized educational climate that worries me. So I’m left between Irvine and Cole for my third choice. Dennis Cole is the Director of Partnerships and Operations within the Division of Alternative Education, which includes “Alternative, Community, and Correctional Education Schools and Services-ACCESS.” His ballot designation is indeed “Education Operations Director,” but I feel a bit misled by his candidate statement saying “Director of Education at the Orange County Department of Education”; his actual job seems less tied into school board functioning than it led me to believe. So: Irvine is is.

Vern: Got a history with two of these folks here, one bad, one great:

Do NOT vote for Dennis Cole. 12 years ago I wrote “The Wrath of Cole: Willard’s ‘JAGUARS FOR JESUS’ Principal Bans ALL Student Clubs.” Dennis was the very fanatical principal of Santa Ana’s Willard Intermediate School who got so pissed off when ordered by the state to stop his on-campus Bible-study prayer club that he took revenge on the world by BANNING ALL SCHOOL CLUBS. That story still gets lots of readers each year, and every now and then I get an e-mail from someone telling me shit like he was “a horrible foster parent.” Vengeful, fanatical, and who knows what madness he’s up to now? Apparently he’s not Principal of Willard any more which is a good thing.

Then there’s Phu Nguyen, one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet – smart, liberal, a fabulously successful businessman who looks like The Buddha. I spent a lot of time with him (and Misha Houser) that same year trying to get him elected to the Assembly (he was running against Allan Mansoor.) He contacted me recently to tell me he was “running against Dennis Cole – YOU remember him!” – and I see that he’s got him a SLATE here – the same three Greg picked:

I didn’t know about that slate! But you really can learn a whole lot from reading candidate statements (and sometimes look and candidate websites for a deeper dive, and the good and bad ones — especially, it seems, in school boards — really comes through quite clear — so I’m not surprised that I honed in on the three best. They made it easy.

Fullerton School District Trustee

Area 4: Ruthi HanchettLisa WozabRudy Garcia

Garcia has no statement. Wozab is tied to Parent’s Voice, described elsewhere. So that leaves Hanchett. She’s endorsed by the Fullerton Elementary Teachers Association — I verified this on their website — and she seems dedicated to elementary education.

Huntington Beach City School District Trustee

Area 4: Diana Marks (i) v. Autumn DiGiovanni

Marks, the incumbent has excellent credentials and a good candidate statement. DiGiovanni boasts of successfully agitating that a letter be sent demanding that Gov. Newsom drop his mask mandate. That is not a qualification. Marks has gotten set to go — and she wins the endorsement by a mile.

Area 5: Paul Morrow (i) v. Julie Norton

Morrow, the incumbent, has great qualifications. Norton is a Covid-denier with a dismal statement. Morrow endorsed.

La Habra City School District Trustees (3)

  • Cynthia Aguirre (i)
  • Emily Pruitt (i)
  • Adam Rogers (i)
  • Joshua Atwater
  • Rocio Carmona

Cynthia Aguirre and her team have been doing a great job on this Board and should be retained. Challengers Atwater and Carmona don’t have candidate statements, which is an insufficient critique.

Vern: Cynthia Aguirre is one of the best people in this County, and if it were a decent County, SHE would be Supervisor instead of Doug Chaffee, or, who was it… Tim Shaw, Joe Kerr, or pinche Lucille Kring – whatta buncha flawed people! Of course Cynthia came in fifth. She is REALLY smart, and REALLY good. Pruitt and Rogers are part of “her team?” Well, ¡ándale pues!

Lowell Joint School District Trustee

Area 2: Christine Berg v. Kathi Lundstrom

I don’t hold Lundstrom’s education at and affiliation with BIOLA against her, but she makes a specifically religious pitch here (and on a video I found of her), and one that focuses overwhelmingly prioritizes the needs of gifted students. Berg is an award-winning teacher, retired from this district, and seems to offer a broader and more generally inviting perspective.

Area 4: Karen Shaw (qi) v. Esther Evangelista

It’s MAGA vs. highly qualified Normal. Go, Normal! Evangelista it is!

Ocean View School District Governing Board Members (3)

  • Patricia Singer (i)
  • John Briscoe (i)
  • Jack Souders (i)
  • Dan Pearce
  • Morgan Westmoreland

These are good incumbents. Retain them!

Vern: These are Claytonista-Tarvinistas, and yes, re-elect them! (I think I got a bone to pick with Gina, but that can wait till she’s on Council.)

Savanna School District Trustee

Area 2: Joyce Burdette v. Elizabeth Winkler

Both candidates are admirably enthusiastic, but Winkler doesn’t go nearly as far beyond that. Burdette offers a much stronger justification for her being able to do some good on this board. Plus, having a former classified employee on the board helps round out its perspective.

Vern: Savanna? SAVANNA? Is this here for Ryan Cantor?

Ryan’s not living in ‘Savanna” any more. Now he’s living in … Centralia! No, that’s a joke — but if Ryan wants to know where he’s gone off to, he’ll let us all know.



District 2: Kim Bernice Nguyen v. Vicente Sarmiento!

Vicente Sarmiento has had an excellent record in Santa Ana politics, including serving as Mayor. He has the executive experience and the intelligence and ethics to be an excellent supervisor. Kim Bernice Nguyen is the de facto Republican in this race; she’s not progressive, she’s not forthright, and she’s not that accomplished. She’s adjacent to the Anaheist scandal through her alliance with Avelino Valencia. Yes, she did win a City Council seat at age 25 — but she didn’t follow through on the various promises she made to various groups. And yet she has the support of some young Democrats, apparently because she ticks a couple of extra diversity boxes and is too young to be called a “career politician — and yet they get no grief from the party over it. How odd. Those links are to their candidate statements; check out which has more detail, qualifications, and fundamental seriousness. Sarmiento, claro!

Vern: Kim is, proudly, the Sheriffs’ and cop unions’ candidate – they hate Vince because he has worked for oversight and accountability. Kim is good at impersonating a “progressive” – mainly focused on enforcing “wokeness.” But she is a charter member of a CLIQUE, which I’d characterize as the FAR RIGHT of the Democratic Party, solicitous to big business and unquestioningly supportive of law enforcement. Lou Correa is their Big Dog; there’s also Avelino, Kim, Santa Ana Councilmen Bacerra and Penaloza, Santa Ana Police Union Chief Gerry Serrano, and others. Some of them got the DPOC endorsement, some did not. That’s because there’s a low-key civil war brewing on what it means to be a Democrat around here. I’m with the other side.

Geez, Kim just bragged in a Facebook ad that she got the endorsement of most of the ORANGE CITY COUNCIL – one of the worst Councils in the county. Her endorsers there include racist caveman Jon Dumitru and ubiquitous kleptocrat Arianna Barrios, all coming together because they hate Vince Sarmiento.

This reflects well on the DPOC-endorsed Sarmiento, one of the smartest AND most honest (as far as I can tell) politicians we have in this county. Like I said, he has been pushing for police oversight in Santa Ana, and hopefully he’ll be succeeded by a Mayor Tinajero along with a majority that will continue that work. Did you know real progressives are fiscally responsible and balance the budget? That’s something Howard Dean emphasized 18 years ago, and it’s what Vince did – he inherited, from 22 years of Pulido, a city drowning in debt, and managed to turn that around into a surplus in two years. (Reminiscent of when Tait took over Anaheim from Pringle.) And the COVID relief funds Santa Ana received from the Federal Government went TO THE PEOPLE – unlike in Anaheim when half of it was funneled to Chamber allies for no specific purpose. (Not for nothing did Pulido express his love for Sidhu like they were brothers from a different mother – “You guys have a GREAT Mayor up in Anaheim,” I remember him telling us.)

District 4: Doug Chaffee (qi) v. Sunny Park!

First, read what I wrote about Katrina Foley below and then recognize that Doug Chaffee, her fellow Democrat, engineered the map that — coming out of nowhere! — would move her part of Costa Mesa into a South County district in hopes of killing off her chances for re-election. I won’t dwell here on Chaffee’s perverse, disgusting, rictus-grinned defense of “Hate Crime Braggart” James Mai, which we’ve covered here amply. Chaffee has become a caricature of a “giveaway” politician, suddenly showing up (after lots of neglect) with job fairs and food giveaways that would drive a person with any sense of shame to blush hard enough to induce a coma, most gruesomely latching onto the serious injury of someone in his district in a 7-11 shooting as a reason to move money out of a fund to use for all sorts of improvements for the whole Supervisorial District and, with great fanfare, give it to him. I’d give him credit for quietly doing a online fundraiser for the guy, but no — this rich prich (that’s a word I just made up) has to use your tax money to make you think that he’s being generous by taking it away from you. (Takes a deep breath)

As you might discern, I would likely vote for a four-day old omelet over Doug Chaffee, but in Sunny Park we have someone worth supporting on her own merits. In notably swampy (nice euphemism, yes?) Buena Park, she taken on the cause of reform and of true service — even if it roils the water a bit at times — making her an excellent antidote to Chaffee-ness. She’s a smart Democrat and she’s opposed to those who waste money, so she should appeal to Republicans and Independents too.

Vern: At the CAIR forum last week, Doug seemed like a dead man barely walking. Complacent, arrogant, speaking so quietly (as though to himself) that you could barely hear him. He radiated the feeling of “Why did I even come here tonight?” On the Board he has allied with Republican Andrew Do and the main things they have in common is a hatred of transparency, an impatience with the public, a reverence toward bad traditions, and subservience to the Sheriffs. And they allied together to sideline and silence the only GOOD Supervisor, Katrina Foley (which is probably what lost Doug the DPOC endorsement – VERY rare for an incumbent, especially a well-financed incumbent, not to get that endorsement!)

Sunny Park in comparison was energetic and lovable (which I guess is saying nothing in comparison to Doug.) I know some people who’ve worked with her in Buena Park found her hard to work with, but she is smart, progressive, and really no-contest head and shoulders better than Chaffee.

District 5: Katrina Foley! (qi) v. Pat Bates

Katrina Foley is so sharp and so energetic and so civic-minded that other Supervisors seem to want to punish her for it. The ones running this year have the chance to put her into the majority for the first time, and I would love to see what she does with it. Clean up the fiscal, competence, and ethical messes, for example! From what I understand, Pat Bates is a nice lady, but she is well past her prime and would likely just follow Wagner’s lead. We definitely don’t need that!

Vern: Yeah, Katrina, pretty much what Greg said, one of the best politicians we have in OC, and possibly the best Supervisor we’ve EVER had. We need five like her, but for now two will do. (Picture, if our choices prevail – the Board will be Foley, Sarmiento and Park, with Wagner and Do muttering to each other in the corner for the next two years.)


ALISO VIEJO (2 seats)

  • Tiffany Ackley (i)
  • Max Duncan
  • Payal Avellan!
  • Tara Ricksen

Tiffany Ackley may come around to explain our choices in comments. I’ll note that some people are arguing for a secondary boycott against her because she supports someone they dislike; in this case, I think it’s unjustified.

Vern: I’ll sit on my hands in a surly way. Tiffany seems decent enough, but I’m sick of Democrats endorsing Farrah who has become a cancer on our county and Party.



  • Ashleigh Aitken!
  • Trevor O’Neil
  • Dick Lopez
  • Lorri Galloway

Trevor O’Neill — the man who literally posed with disgraced Mayor Harry Sidhu as if he was his son (or at least his dance partner) was at least a willing dupe of — and more likely a willing participant in — the Cabal; it is obscene that he is running for office and even more obscene that, due to the Dark Arts of Voter Manipulation, he has a chance to win. Speaking of which: the FBI should realize that none of what’s been happening in Anaheim on the past four years happens at all without the malign participation of Lorri Galloway, who has had no chance of winning but continues to run simply to pull votes away from reformers; this includes giving Sidhu a narrow win over reformist candidate Ashleigh Aitken by drawing away Democratic votes. She’s doing it again this year, not so far with the help of the Cabal, but with the help of the Republican “Lincoln Club” — which produces energy by making Honest Abe roll over in his grave — and is promoting Galloway’s role as a spoiler. We’re not sure whether Galloway is being compensated, directly or indirectly, for this, buy she’s a scam artist from way back and would probably flip so easily once pursued that it would make Mehalat Rafiei look like a ziggurat by comparison. In other words: don’t vote for Galloway, people!

Some voters don’t like Ashleigh Aitken, who keeps getting harmed by associations with the establishment part of the party — this time it’s Melahat, even though she broke off ties with Melahat even before the latter was questioned — and are considering voting for Dick Lopez. I like Lopez, but he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning, so vote for Ashleigh now and complain about her later if she deserves it. She has no ties to the Cabal, and that’s what Anaheim desperately needs ASAP!

Vern: . . .

City Council Members

District 2: Gloria Sahagún Ma’ae (aqi) v. Carlos Leon

I’m not much of a fan of Carlos Leon, a “business democrat” on whose behalf a better candidate was muscled out. But Gloria Ma’ae has been as atrocious as one could expect of a creature of the Cabal, and we need to get rid of her. If Leon can do it, he will deserve thanks.

Vern: . . .

District 3: Al Jabbar! v. Natalie Rubalcava

Al Jabbar is the protege of Dr. Jose Moreno, even though he’s been the employee of Doug Chaffee (and presumable reason for anything decent and good coming out of that office, though I imagine he’s officially required to deny that), and he’s worth supporting even if only for being able to continue carrying Dr. Moreno’s flame. But he has a lot more going for him, including his years on the Anaheim Union High School District Board. Dr. Moreno will be hard to replace, but Jabbar is best situated to do it. Rubalcava, by comparison, heads the Orange County Business Council, which might sound good if it primarily focused on the needs of small businesses, but like the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce at the heart of the Anaheist — it doesn’t. Elect Al!

Vern: . . .

District 6: Hari Shankar Lal! v. Natalie Meeks

Natalie Meeks is responsible for the ARTIC station: the white elephant shaped like a goose egg on the 57. Like ARTIC, you can shine bright colorful lights on Meeks’s career with the city, but they don’t change the underlying failure. (But ARTIC won awards! Yes, that’s what connections and a lot of money spend on PR can buy you.) ARTIC, which clearly wants to be a homeless center if someone set up bunkbeds, was supposedly built to accommodate the high speed rail train — but it’s not tall enough where it matters to accommodate the (nonexistent, by the way) train. ARTIC was supposed to be a huge retail hub, but I’m informed that design flaws prevented the upper parts of it from being properly built out. What ARTIC was really supposed to do was to clear out the Stadium Grounds so that they could be sold to Arte Moreno for a snack bag if Cheetos, while leaving the Stadium Grounds close enough to a mass transit hub that it could get desirable regulatory benefits from that status. Why we would want to have this woman making City policy in the wake of the Anaheist is entirely unclear. Hari Shankar Lal, by contrast, is a successful — some even say crusading! — Civil Rights Attorney who will provide desperately needed legal perspective to the Council itself. He’s smart, he’s experienced, and he’s truly good — a great combination for a City Council that really needs it.

Vern: . . .

BREA (3 Seats)

  • Steven Vargas (i)
  • Cecilia Hupp (i)
  • Blair Stewart
  • Andrew Herrera
  • Kari Windes

It is astonishing that, while no one in Brea’s government seems to like Steve Vargas, Vargas can keep getting elected because of well-heeled endorsers and huge signs. Maybe this is the year that his luck will run out. Vargas has a protege among the challengers for Council … and offs enough it’s not the one with a Spanish surname. Blair Stewart is Vargas’s projected Mini-Me — and with three seats open, that makes my job easy. I’m enthusiastic about Kari Windes, a community activist truly worthy of the often tossed-around title. I know less about Andrew Herrera; he has an odd but heartfelt candidate statement but at least — unlike with some others — I’m confident that wrote it himself!

Vern: Me, second-guess Dr. Diamond on his hometown? No. (Can I also not like Steve Vargas?) Sure!


District 1: Joyce AhnKevin Rhee, and John Siebert

Ahn looks well qualified and has endorsements from Councilmembers Traut, Park, and Sonne. Rhee seems to be engaged in some nice charitable activities in his private life, but they aren’t really Council qualifications. Siebert seems more interested in matters outside of those he would face on Council.

District 2: Jose Trinidad Castaneda!Myoung Soo “Michael” Han, and Carlos Franco

Trini Castaneda has already been a significant leader on environmental and good government issues. He has great endorsements. Han and Franco both declare themselves to be CEO; in Franco’s case of a “Buena Park Nonprofit.” Pretty much anyone can create a corporation and call themselves a CEO, so I’d want to know more about what they do before giving them too much credit for that. Han claims to be CEO of the “Global Chamber of Commerce” — and to my surprise there is such an entity — but Han does not seem to be its CEO. He may be leading one of its chapters (not the same thing), but the head of the Los Angeles Council is named James Daar and Han is not even on its advisory committee. The site lists a chapter in Orange County, but the link to that page is dead. So Han is clearly going to be too busy with his CEO work to serve on Council. Franco says that he is CEO of the “Buena Park Sister City Foundation,” which is listed on the Secretary of State’s register. Unfortunately, the last three entries are: “9/28/21 – Delinquency,” 12/28/21 “Penalty Certification,” and 1/25/22 “Pending Suspension,” so I suspect the CEO Franco will be too busy setting straight his non-profit’s affairs to serve effectively on City Council. Definitely Castaneda in this race! (Pro tip; don’t call yourself a “CEO” if you are not spending a lot of your time CEOing!)



John Stephens (ai) v. John Moorlach

John Moorlach has an important message about unfunded liabilities that warrants serious consideration by city leaders. If he were running for City Council, then (depending on the competition) I’d likely endorse him. But the skills that make him a powerful prophet of doom would not likely make him a good Mayor. John Stephens has kept peace on the dais since taking over for Katrina Foley and will continue to do well.

Vern: . . .

City Council Members

District 3: Andrea Marr (qi), John Thomas PattonJorge Maron

Andrea Marr has been a good, thoughtful, City Council member; and she keeps Don Harper in check. Endorsed.

District 4: Manuel Chavez is unopposed. On the ballot, though? Why?

District 5: Arlis Reynolds! (qi) v. Robert Dickson

Arlis Reynolds has been a great City Council member. (But it’s odd that neither seems to have a candidate statement.)

Vern: . . .

CYPRESS (3 Seats)

  • Scott Minkus (i)
  • David Burke
  • Bonnie Peat
  • Rachel Strong
  • Terry Miller
  • Carrie Hayashida
  • Helen Le

Only two endorsements to make here. Helen Le and David Burke are the only two candidates who seem to recognize what seems obvious from the outside: that Cypress is in crisis, given its punishing of whistleblowing councilmember Frances Marquez, and needs reform. So put the three of them into a new Council majority and see if things improve!

DANA POINT (3 seats)

Each of the three seats had exactly one candidate file. No candidates will be on the ballot.

Vern: . . .


  • Kim Constantine (qi) – no union ties, opposes high-density housing
  • Patrick Harper (qi) – accomplished body cameras, homeless outreach, paying down pension liabilities
  • Shaun Diamond – no statement
  • Nancy Dugay – seems underqualified
  • Glenn Bleiweis – a business guy: “no-nonsense, decisive leadership style. I am an effective collaborator and communicator” Honestly, I have my doubts about the latter given the former.
  • Cindy Cao – more resources for “employment, housing, and a cleaner environment”
  • Jim Cunneen – noxious endorsements
  • Steve Nagel – fund public safety and be conservative about the rest
  • Dwight Shackleford – sympathizes with homeless, but fears what they may do
  • Darrel Mymon-Brown – conservative, against billboards and high-density housing
  • Michael Mau – fund public safety and support businesses
  • Eugene Murray – no statement
  • Alicia “Rudy” Huebner – pursuing opportunities that bring revenue to the city without cost to residents.

Patrick Harper is endorsed by the RPOC – but he had the best candidate statement, which noted real accomplishments. Cindy Cao stood out because she recognized priorities other than feeding public safety and promoting businesses. Shaun Diamond stood out (less so) because of his last name — no, I don’t know him and so far as I know we’re not related — but some of you will want to vote for three people, so there you go!


District 3: Johnny YbarraArnel Dino, and Shana Charles

Johnny Ybarra is a standard “pay for the cops and keep out the poor” conservative, although I agree with him that Fullerton should fix its streets. Arnel Dino has an impressive candidate statement, but I can’t forget that he’s the one who promoted Sukhee Kang over Josh Newman when Lang parachuted in. Arnel has always supported East Asian solidarity, blindly as to individual merit, and has worked hard to create power structures promoting himself within the Democratic Party. He has Fred Jung’s support — I can just imagine the pitch that assured it — but he’s be a self-serving bad influence on Jung. Shana Charles is intelligent, has good experience in city government, and is endorsed by a lot of Democrats who also know Arnel Dino. She’s also become the sole woman on the City Council, and if it were even close that would be an appropriate tie-breaker.

Vern: . . .

District 5: Ahmad Zahra (qi), Oscar Valadez, and Tony Castro

I find Ahmad Zahra disquieting. His being a gay Arab medical doctor lists the three good things about him, but they only give him a head start that he hasn’t maintained. Oscar Valadez is a Stanford grad made good who builds soup kitchens here and in Mexico; and Tony Castro jumped into the race at the last minute, presumably to split the anti-Zahra vote with Valadez. Well, if Zahra wanted Castro in the race, some potential Zahra voters ought to support Castro instead! Everyone else: Valadez actually knows something about fixing Fullerton’s crumbling roads, has a strong set of humane priorities, and he deserves your support.

Vern: . . .



Steve Jones is unopposed, Write in whatever alternative name you want.

Vern: . . .

City Council Members

District 1: George S Brietigam III (qi) v. Allen Rodriguez

George Brietigam is an LAPD Sergeant who wants to give police even a larger share of the what he wants to see as a stable budget, meaning that other priorities suffer. Allen Rodriguez is a family practice physician who wants the city to have a better physical and social environment for its residents: “more local options for affordable activities, places to eat, shop, more family-friendly businesses, and to see our city better connected and maintained as more and more of us are retired –or working from home.” Having read through scores of candidate statements about “more money for public safety (and implicitly less for everything else if the budget doesn’t increase)”, I found Rodriguez’s focus on what makes a community a community happy, healthy and socially connected to be quite refreshing.

District 3: 5 candidates

  • Gia Nguyen – less regulation, bring in more grants, tax incentives for businesses, create more affordable housing and jobs
  • Asia Nguyen Cunningham — obvious Democrat endorsee, former interim Director for Correa, endorsements mostly from the establishment wing, plus Deirdre Thu-Ha and Thai Viet, and Katie, but splashes public safety endorsements highest of all and really needs to consult with Dr. Allen Rodriguez about what actually makes us “safe”
  • Cindy Tran — admirable charitable work, decent values
  • Laurie Merrick — promotes military ties; conservative white women for chastising thoughtful government
  • Jimmy Webb — EMT, not a jerky narcissistic one, nicely written

I’m going to stay out of this one — and I’ll tell you why.

I didn’t have to look it up to know that Laurie Merrick was the Republican Party endorsee (though I also correctly verified my hunch.) Her pitch is over the top militaristic, topped off with “Through the ROTC program (Reserve Officer Training Corps), my boys attended Pacifica High School.” (I didn’t know that you needed to go through ROTC to get into Pacifica!) She helped found a neighborhood association 20 years ago “to serve as a common voice for concerned residents and provide input on city decisions”; this could be a good thing but I’ll bet it isn’t; it sounds like a group devoted to strengthening the power of those already in charge. So I don’t want her to win.

Asia Nguyen Cunningham is clearly the person that Democrats intend to beat her. She’s so obviously the Democrat endorsee that I’m not going to break my pledge not to look up their page to confirm it. She was a former Interim District Director for Lou Correa (a role that she overplays in her statement) and has endorsements mostly from the party’s establishment wing — but also from Deirdre Thu-Ha and Thai Viet, and Kim Carr, I suspect that those last three followed a hard sell coming from the highest levels — though her website splashes gigantic public safety endorsements above them all, and we just don’t need more of that among Democrats. I hope that that she will turn out to be a pleasant surprise if elected.

So look: if it’s Cunningham vs. Merrick, then I will take Cunningham and then possibly suffer for the rest of my days. But it isn’t: there are three more candidates — Cindy Tran, Jimmy Webb, and Gia Nguyen — and I like each of their statements pretty well, none overwhelmingly, just as I’d like Cunningham’s if she didn’t seem prepared to morph into Doug Chaffee someday. But if I endorse Tran or Nguyen, they will take away votes from Cunningham — and she (overstating my influence here for dramatic effect) likely loses to Merrick. (I could endorse Webb to try to split the white vote, but that seems creepy.) So, instead, I’m putting all of this information out here for you to consider. I would probably vote for Tran or Webb — unless I felt that I had to give in and vote for Cunningham, in which case I probably would. I suggest that readers take the same position: if you see a significant difference between the two endorsed candidates, you have my blessing. If not, take your choice of the others.

Vern: . . .

District 4: Joe DovinhDuy Nguyen, and Trung Ta

Joe Dovinh did something bad when he went Trumpy in the primary and also challenged a good water commissioner. Luckily for him, I have a short memory, and I think he’s better than that. This is a case where someone not turning in a candidate statement was a good idea. I’d vote for him over the other two — but for those who won’t, I prefer Nguyen to Ta. ,,, Duy Nguyen is a military reservist and a banker with ties to various Chambers of Commerce. He wants lower taxes and dual-language literacy. ,,, Trung Ta says that he is a successful businessman and respected community elder. He wants more money given to police and as business subsidies, implies that he wants the homeless to be shipped to other cities (and he’s welcome to correct me if I’m misreading that), and wants to discuss community values (presumably conservative and traditional ones with groups including public employees. That last bit could be a real problem, and it suggest a lack of appreciation for what being in a secular political office is suppose to involve..

Vern: Dovinh is a joke, and has no underlying values. Greg may have a short memory but ME AND JOE GO WAY BACK. He popped out of nowhere to be a spoiler candidate – actually this was PRE-jungle primaries – so the purpose of him was to keep Phu out of the election period – he popped out of nowhere to help racist Republican Allan Mansoor beat my friend Phu Nguyen in the 2010 assembly race… I did a great interview with Joe here, which never gets un-tiring or un-interesting … check it out… MEET JOE DOVINH. A classic of political tool literature. Since then he has graduated to “perennial candidate” status, not sure if he has ever won, but he sure loves to run!

His wife Dina Nguyen, now an OCWD “director,” was someone whom I always had to control spam about because everybody was reporting (or fantasizing) about her tireless romantic adventures, with most Little Saigon politicians. (My own experience, which I don’t think I’ve reported on publicly, was her texting me late a few nights (after I’d lobbied her against Poseidon a few times) with strange romantic/sexual meanderings about Chinese foot-binding and other strange things. Donna did not like that and made me block her.)

Trung Ta I’ve know for 15 years and trust him as an honest and progressive guy, who explained Little Saigon to me a lot early in this century. I can picture him not raising hell and getting attention… but I’m for Trung! Okay, he helped me with “Janet Has Really Stepped In It” … although Janet is still doing fine and spreading webs of corruption.


CITY COUNCIL (4 seats)

  • Kenneth Inouye
  • Bobby Britton
  • Pat Burns
  • Brian Burley
  • Oscar Rodriguez!
  • Robert Reider
  • Gracey Van Der Mark
  • Mike Vogler
  • David Clifford
  • Gina Clayton-Tarvin!
  • Billy O’Connell
  • Gabrielle Samiy
  • Tony Strickland
  • Casey McKeon
  • Jill Hardy!
  • Amory Hanson
  • Jeffrey Hansler
  • Vera Fair

This is really simple. Jill Hardy was a great HB Councilwoman, and since she wants to be one again, voters should elect her. Gina Clayton-Tarvin has been a strong School Board member, and since she wants to move to City Council, voters should elect her. Oscar Rodriguez has been one of Huntington Beach’s best activists in recent years and voters should elect him this time, since they have not quite managed to do so in previous years. And since the three of them believe that Kenneth Inouye is the person with whom they should serve for the next four years, I endorse him as well. PLEASE do not embarrass the city on a national scale by electing Gracey van Der Mark of Das Beast. If you’re conservative and anti-reform, you have Billy O’Connell, Tony Strickland, Amory Hanson and even Brian Burley to choose from, among others; you don’t need the Proud Boys pep squad leader on your Council.


Michael Gates (i) v. Scott Field!


Incumbent Michael Gates is a reckless would-be dictator, claiming the sole right to decide the meaning of the City Charter and to control whom the city can appoint to challenge him in court. Deputy City Attorney Scott Field has the guts and the skills to take him on. If you live in Huntington Beach, you HAVE to volunteer to help Scott Field win!

Vern: . . .



  • Farrah Khan (i)
  • Branda Lin!
  • Katherine Daigle
  • Tom Chomyn
  • Simon Moon

Farrah Khan has not done a good job as Mayor. Canoodling (it’s a metaphor) with Republicans and lying about it is insulting, but getting herself and her business partner (it’s also just a metaphor — barely) in the Orange County Power Authority and putting the city on the hook for a gigantic fine — even if it was supposedly “part of the plan” — while funneling money to a gormless CEO and without letting the public knowing that bill was coming: THAT was injury. And it was injury not just to the city, but to the concept of clean energy — and to herself. Now she ought to pay for it. Branda Lin has been giving independent journalists acting as community watchdogs a good name — yeah, go ahead and crack your jokes about us — and can be counted on as a truly independent reformer. I can’t figure out whether Farrah is angling for Republican or democratic votes this time — she (rather incredibly) has the DPOC endorsement, and she has a gigantic tap into Irvine Republicans through her partner-in-crime (for now, it’s a metaphor) Mike Carroll, but to the extent that he’s angling for Dems she’s going to split the vote with Lin — which means that Katherine Daigle might actually have a shot here, despite that Simon Moon is well-placed to split the Korean vote with Lin. Or maybe the beneficiary could be Tom Chomyn, who has an agenda of (1) “development of a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery at the Great Park to honor our veterans” (even Agran’s website doesn’t mention still trying to do the cemetery), (2) “hold the Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) accountable, so they cannot be allowed to lose millions of dollars and then make Irvine electricity ratepayers foot the bill (sounding more and more like an Agranista!), (3) relocating the asphalt plant (which the Council just did, at least the initial shutting it down part), and (4) advocating for district elections and council expansion to enhance representation for all Irvine residents (Districting Irvine? Fun!)

Vern: . . .

City Council Members (2 seats)

  • Larry Agran (i)
  • Anthony Kuo (i)
  • Kathleen Treseder!
  • John Park
  • Scott Hansen
  • Navid Sadigh

Vern and I are both very impressed by Prof. Kathleen Treseder. The question is: do we also endorse someone else? Larry Agran, Anthony Kuo, and John Park are all known quantities — and the latter two certainly aren’t getting our endorsement. So let’s look at the other two first see if there’s anyone worth thinking about.

Hmm … Navid Sadigh is 19. Navid, we hate to tell you this, but you’re not going to win. We may or may not encourage people to waste a vote on you rather than an empty space, so first we’ll look at: Scott Hansen. Reading through his candidate statement, it starts out pretty nice … the plans for the city are fairly pat (yeah, how long have people been talking about clearing up the traffic in Irvine?) … and as we near the end we see: “I’m proud Mayor Farrah Khan appointed me to the City of Irvine Transportation Commission.” Look, that may not be a mistake on your part — it is somewhat subtle way for you to pick up Farrah voters — but it takes you out of consideration for my endorsement, even symbolically. So the real question — given that two years from now is when Mike Carroll and Tammi Kim come up — is whether we want to endorse Agran.

Here’s the problem. There’s a good chance that Kuo will be re-elected, mostly because he’s an incumbent and is weirdly and loosely allied with the incumbent Mayor. In that case, there’s only one spot left. Do we think that Agran supporters are likely to vote in lockstep for Treseder? Do you think that Agran will even tell them to? And by that I mean: “without a wink and a nod?”

The problem is that Agran has a reputation, especially in recent years, for some degree of treachery. If Treseder supporters also vote for Agran, but Agran voters don’t also vote for Treseder, then she will finish behind him. If Kuo and Park are both ahead of, or both behind, Agran and Treseder, it doesn’t matter. But if only one of them finishes ahead of them, then who among these two Democrats has more matters decisively. … (Similar considerations occur on the Republican side. But there, it’s pretty easy: Kuo will likely get more votes — Park doesn’t have much of his own faction — so he can be gracious and tell all of his supporters to vote for Park as well. Treachery doesn’t enter into it.) … My guess is that because Agran and Treseder have different constituencies and each needs the other’s voters to win, Treseder will tell her voters to vote for Agran as well. And some who are like Vern will go ahead and do that, because it’s the only way to win. But some who are like me will concede the principle, but won’t want to reward betrayal.

Anyway, Vern and I both think you should vote for Treseder. Vern says also vote for Agran and I say — what the hell, vote for the 19-year-old kid.

Vern: . . .


City Council Members (3 seats)

  • Peter Blake (i) NO!
  • Sue Kempf (i)
  • Alex Rounaghi
  • Mark Orgill
  • Jerome Pudwill
  • Ruben Flores
  • Louis Weil

Blake says: “I’ve been accused of being uncivil, strong-willed, ill[-]tempered (all true) and every unflattering label that can be applied to my personality.” (Now I’d only consider Peter Blake as a punishment to others.)

Sue Kempf: She has a really sweet candidate statement. Endorsed because she’ll provide institutional memory.

Alex Rounaghi: I liked this statement even before I got to the magic words: “Policy Advisor for Supervisor Katrina Foley.” These outweigh the issues of “After graduating from Dartmouth College.” (Just kidding, Alex!)

Mark Orgill: “I have found collaboration more constructive than conflict.” Damn, that’s three in a row I like!

Jerome Pudwill: “Developer money has compromised Laguna’s government by supporting changes that permanently threaten Laguna’s special charm and quality of life. Pro-development, pro-tourism interests now control your City Council. Your friendly, self-sufficient village is being transformed into a tourist attraction – laser-focused on business profits, not residents’ needs.” And that’s four!

Ruben Flores: “Goals include ensuring all can express concerns freely and are given respect; advocate equitable enforcement of regulations & codes; reposition Laguna’s marketing to attract visitors who actually purchase in Laguna; bolster Laguna’s urban mosaic; address remote parking & incentivize trolly use; promote waterwise Calif.” FIVE!

Louis Weil: “The population is aging and we need an influx of young families, artists, and professionals to maintain the vibrancy of our community. That demands a fresh look at housing affordability, public safety, education, arts and culture, access and improvements to our parks, beaches, and wilderness areas, as well as green solutions to parking, traffic, and infrastructure, all with the future in mind.” SIX!!!

THIS IS HORRIBLE! I have six people I want to recommend — but if they split the vote then the asshole probably wins! So, strategically, I should choose the three who I think are already most likely to win. I’ll check out their endorsements. [time passes] OK: I’m going with Sue Kempf (because she’s the incumbent and has put so much blood and sweat into putting up with things for four years that she’s just plain earned it) Alex Roughnagi (because I think that the Foley tie make it more likely that he’ll pick up a lot of votes), and Jerome Pudwill, because he has the most trenchant analysis (although Weil’s is equally good.) I can’t believe I’m leaving out Weil, Flores, and (to a slightly lesser extent, though he’d be endorsed in most other races) Orgill — you guys please stay involved.

And Laguna Beach Democratic Club — you’ve long been one of my favorites in the county, but … you really had to endorse here! Winnowing the field down was the best way to win three seats.


City Council Members, Full-Term (3 seats)

  • David Wheeler (i)
  • Erica Pezold (i)
  • Joshua Sweeney NO
  • Parshan Khosravi

Erica Pesold seems the best of the conservative white group, who are all Republican Party endorsed, but Parshan Khosravi seems like the best of the bunch. The bright side for me is that if and when Laguna Hills votes for everyone except Khosravi, as I expect it will, it will probably get a quick demand letter from Kevin Shenkman to talk about imposing districts. My guess is that non-incumbent Joshua Sweeney is the weak link here, so even if you for for Pezold and David Wheeler, I would suggest not voting for Sweeney. And maybe you could even take the big step of voting for a nicely qualified person of color!

City Council Member, Short-Term

Donald Caskey (ai) — do as you will


City Council Members (2 seats)

  • Jeff Von Waldburg
  • Melissa Caldwell
  • Stephanie Oddo
  • Randall Aaron Morton
  • Javad Mokhbery
  • Stephanie Winstead
  • Ray Gennaway

OK, we’ll go through these one by one: Von Waldburg: “[Endorsements from: Mimi Walters, former Mayor Linda Lindholm, Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Rains and Councilmember Rischi Paul Sharma” But not the Republican Party. Weird! Caldwell: “Pat Bates endorsed me.” Thanks for playing! Oddo: She’s a public school educator. “Improve transparency, accountability and accessibility; Keep our community and schools safe; Improve fire safety; Preserve our parks/open space; Support small businesses’ Keep us fiscally strong with no debt or additional pension liability.” I like it! But mostly, I know I’ve endorsed her before. Easy name to remember! Morton: No statement, no endorsement! Mokhbery: Surprisingly empty statement. Wants safety, thanks firefighters, runs A business. Winstead: Very wired-in Republican. Not my cup of tea. Gennaway: “I’m running to protect our hometown from the rise in crime and outrageous cost-of-living in our state.” OK, I get the crime thing: you’re a Deputy District Attorney. But how are you going to affect “our state’s outrageous cost-of-living” from your City Council seat? Hey … are you considering rent control? (Oh, I doubt it….)

This is a situation where there’s one really good candidate — Oddo — and four wired-in Republicans (I exclude Morton and Mokhbery) who are going to be splitting the vote. (Winstead and Gennaway have the RPOC endorsements.) So while normally I would say to vote only for Oddo — what’s called “bullet voting” — here I would suggest voting for Mokhbery as well: he’s not going to get more votes than her (because OJB’s reach is not that huge), but if he does somehow win the second seat because the prominent Republicans split the vote, he will know that he rode into office by hanging onto Oddo’s coattails!


City Council Members (2 seats)

Carol Moore (i), Ed Tao (ai), and Annie McCary

I am of the impression that Laguna Woods has good governance. Ergo.


City Council Members, Full-Term (2 seats)

  • Jim Gomez (i)
  • Jose Medrano (i)
  • Michelle Juarez Bernier
  • Susan Pritchard

Jim Gomez always wins. So I’m bullet-endorsing the one that I want to win: Michelle Juarez Bernier.

City Council Member, Short-Term (1 seat)

Daren Nigsarian! (ai) v. Guadalupe Lara

Nigsarian is a good guy, and affable/reasonable enough to have gotten appointed to an open seat.

Vern: . . .


City Council Member

District 2: Suzy BetzBob Stuart, and Benjamin Yu

I was most impretz with Suzy Betz.

District 3: Scott Voights

Write in the name of a neighbor.


City Council Members (2 seats)

  • Nitesh Patel (i)
  • Jonathan Dinwiddie
  • Janet Conklin

I’m impressed with Nitesh and have heard people sing his praises. The others have decent, unobjectionable, mainstream statements; I liked Conklin’s more.


City Council Member

District 4: Emily Hibard v. Randy Hill

Hibard seems better qualified. She’d probably be more dangerous to Democrats in some future race as well, but that’s not my criterion for endorsement here; I’m looking at what’s best for Los Alamitos voters.


City Council Member

District 1: Bob RueschLinda Shepard, and Deborah Cunningham Skurnik

Ruesch seems extremely stolid: “I helped buy the golf course, support the police”; not my preference. Skurnik is one of the biggest raging assholes I ever had to deal with in the DPOC and I don’t hate the Mission Viejo Council enough to see her loosed upon them — but they do elect her then I will laugh at them. Shepard, though, seems less partisan than simply thoughtful and productive — a fundraiser for good causes such as the Discovery Cube, and the ability to analyze a budget. She’d be a good, congenial, addition to the council. Endorsing her is my gift to MV.

District 2: Brian Goodell (qi) v. Stacy Holmes

District 3: Greg Raths (qi), Ed Sachs (qi), and Cynthia Vasquez

District 4: Trish Kelley (qi) v. Terri Aprati

District 5: Wendy Bucknam (qi) v. Jon Miller

For the rest, I’m picking against the incumbents, thanks to how they’ve botched things up. I recognize that Republicans are unlikely to vote for Cynthia Vasquez — who would seem to have a good chance to win — and I want to encourage them to reject the RPOC endorsement and vote for Greg Raths, who doesn’t deserve the continual humiliating maltreatment that he gets from his party. He’s a decent and intelligent man and he thinks for himself — which may be what they dislike. I hated that he went to CPAC and took pictures with Trump and (worse!) Roger Stone; I hope that he did so only out of political expediency and that he won’t lower himself like that again. But if a Republican does win this race, let it be him. If Democrats can elect Vasquez, so much the better.


City Council Member

District 1: Joe Stapleton v. Tom Miller

District 3: Amy PetersJim Mosher, and Erik Weigand

District 4: Robyn Grant

District 6: Joy Brenner v. Laura Kleiman

Miller is the clear choice in District 1. He’s pro-police, but lists other priorities as well, whereas Stapleton is extreme and monomanical.

In District 3, Weigand says that he “has earned the support of Newport Beach Police Officers, Firefighters and all seven City Councilmembers.” That’s not actually good — especially if you want to balance the budget. I liked Amy Peters candidate statement and would not be sorry to see her win, but when Retired Scientist Jim Mosher says that “Having seen our Councils fail at [government oversight,] I have, for more than a decade, developed a reputation as a unique community watchdog,” I just love it. Put him on the dais!

In District 4 … seriously? No candidate statement; no one else ran? Well, I hope she’s good!

In District 6, Lauren Kleiman said: “We cannot sit back and let Sacramento’s policies turn us into Los Angeles.” God, is that tiresome! Whatchagonna do about it, punk? I almost endorsed Joy Brenner without reading her candidate statement — but I’m glad I did because this is how it should be done! Here’s what Brenner has to say:

You elected me as an independent voice of reason.

I’ve worked hard to honor that commitment by:

Fighting against Measure B to keep professional politicians out of the Mayor’s office.

Partnering with Costa Mesa to open a regional shelter that is reducing the impact of homelessness.

Partnering with Orange County to restore mental health services

Building the consensus to pass a common-sense Vacation Rental Ordinance to protect our neighborhoods.

As a Co-Founder and former President of the Corona del Mar Residents Association, I am passionate about protecting our special quality of life in Newport Beach while supporting citizen-based decision making at City Hall.

My priorities are:

Opposing fractional ownership housing that disrupts our neighborhoods with noise and traffic.

Protecting public safety by maintaining a strong commitment to our Police and Fire Departments.

Preserving our beaches and harbor with innovative coastal protection measures.

Stopping the spread of Group Living Homes in Newport Beach.

Supporting sound financial management with full public transparency for residents.



Mark Murphy (i) v. Dan Slater

Murphy: Don Barnes, Supervisor Don Wagner, Mayor Tita Smith, Councilmembers Kim Nichols, and Jon Dumitru, the City of Orange Police Association and the Orange City Firefighters.

Slater: Councilmember Ana Gutierrez and Arianna Barrios, Former Mayor Carolyn Cavecche.

What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Gutierrez seems good, and I can live with the Cavicche endorsement, but Arianna Barrios‘s name just messed it up! I guess a weak and provisional nod to Slater, subject to revision. (And what the hell has happened to Tita Smith?)

City Council Member

District 1: Arianna Barrios v. Jason White

It’s Kris Murray’s PR aide against a attorney who touts his Marine background. Neither really charms me, but Barrios is saturated with special interest support, so I guess: “Send in the Marine!”

District 3: Kathy Tavoularis (aqi) v. John Russo

The special interests seems to love Kathy Tavoularis, so I’ll go for John Russo, who seems independent of them

District 4: Denis BilodeauJohn Newman, and Chris Horton

John Newman didn’t file a candidate statement. You got to ante up to get into the game, buddy! We all know Denis Bilodeau, Water Board director last seen chasing a Board of Equalization seat. Chris Horton takes a conservative line down the line, including this strange line: He will “work with other city leaders to eradicate the homeless issue in our
city.” Um, what? Bilodeau is going to win, which isn’t tragic, but I’ll mildly endorse the guy with no statement as a quiet protest.

District 6: Brian HarringtonJohn Gyllenhammer, and Adriene Gladson

John Gyllenhammer has obviously got the conservative interests wrapped up — or maybe it’s vice-versa. I like the other two. Brian Harrington is pretty fly for a supply chain manager guy — probably my second favorite of all Orange Council candidates, but I liked Adriene Gladson a little bit more.


City Council Member

District 2: Michael Beshai v. Kevin Kirwin

Michael Beshai seems to want to spend more of public safety and take a law enforcement approach to homelessness. Here’s what Kevin Kirwin has to say:

– The safety of residents and fiscal responsibility are my primary concerns. It doesn’t matter how much tax revenue is received if it’s not spent wisely. Tough questions need to be asked. I will ask them.
– Votes on Council should never be cast depending on a councilmember’s political future, business interests or circle of friends. Votes should be cast for one reason: What is best for the residents of Placentia and the city?
= I’m not against all development. However, I will vote No on any development that doesn’t respect the rights of current residents and makes more financial sense for the developer than it does for the city.
= Let’s move forward. Let’s get good things done.

What sort of city do you want to be, Placentia? I hope it’s the one Kirwin offers!

District 4: Chad Wanke (qi) — write in anyone else

City Clerk

Robert McKinnellwrite in anyone who will make public the names of candidates for city office — starting from Day 1


City Council Members (3 seats)

  • Brad McGirr (i)
  • Jerry Holloway (i)
  • Anne Figueroa (i)
  • Ken Dixon

Just vote for Ken Dixon. Just get everyone around you to vote for Ken Dixon. Here’s part of what he has to say:

It is time for new voices who will listen to the needs of the people of Rancho Santa Margarita and welcome diverse viewpoints. I have made a career of caring for the learning and success of people as a professional training consultant for over 28 years. My success is built on listening to the needs of the people I serve and taking action to design the right solutions in a collaborative way. This isn’t always easy when you have differing opinions, but differences often lead to better solutions when all sides have a voice.

Next time, a couple more of you RSMers run along with him and make it a slate. Ya never know!


City Council Members (3 seats)

  • Steve Knoblock (i) – Need sand. Fund cops. Screw homeless. Pay down pensions — after paying for sand and cops
  • Donna Vidrine – Air force Captain/Nurse. Pro: serving public interests like community health, public safety, coastal protection, addressing homelessness and housing affordability, and services for families, seniors and veterans
  • Victor Cabral – Non-brimstone conservative. Preserve vibrant business community, beaches, natural resources. Loves: take responsibility, small gov’t, free market, security, fiscal accountability, religious freedom, access to quality education
  • Mark Enmeir – Well-educated teacher at SC High. Expand public trolly system into Talega, safer bicycle street access, for bicyclists, support small businesses/non-profits, reduce, help repair schools, reduce carbon footprint w/renewables.
  • Martina McBurney-Wheeler – NO CANDIDATE STATEMENT
  • Shane Hirschman – NO CANDIDATE STATEMENT
  • Chanel Fetty – also a conservative (business-oriented) statement, but stresses interpersonal skills that would fit on dais
  • Ashley Williams – more business conservatism: owns 2 chiropractic offices, help businesses, support police, reduce homeless, clean beaches, lower taxes, transparency at all levels of city government, keep decision making local
  • Aaron Washington – Yet more conservatism. Support police, reduce homeless population, clean beaches, lower taxes, clean beaches, help local businesses, transparency at all levels of city government, keep decision making local
  • Zhen Wu – USC Policy degree, wants regional solutions to emergency homeless shelter, affordability, transportation; Pro: police, strong ethics, collaboration, lower spending, clean beaches, outdoor dining, small-town feel. Anti: toll road
  • Thor Johnson – Very conservative. Pro: less gov’t, lower taxes, preserving beaches, parks, open space, accountability. Anti: toll road, gas station on city land, gov’t or dense housing, homeless or transients or shelter anywhere in city
  • Dennis Kamp – Inquisitive non-partisan fiscal conservative. Pro: SC’s village character, public safety, healthy work/life atmosphere. Anti: Dana Point Harbor plan, “letting political or religious agendas get traction to derail SC’s pressing needs.”

I’m going to break down these 12 candidates into four categories for you:

(1) No candidate statement: McBurney-Wheeler and Shane Hirschman

Look, you can get an electronic-only candidate statement, to which you can link on your website, quite cheaply. If you can’t afford that, you have to ask why you’re running at all, because 9 of the 12 people will lose and you’ll likely be one of them. At worst, you may be taking votes away from the candidates closest to your own view.

(2) Public service supporters: Donna Vidrine, Mark Enmeir, Zhen Wu, Dennis Kamp

These people are earnest and want to serve the public. The latter two seem possibly conservative; doesn’t bother me!

(3) Traditional conservatives: Victor Cabral, Chanel Fetty, Ashley Williams, Aaron Washington

Pro-cop and anti-spending, but do want good congenial governing. We disagree on a lot, but it’s OK.

(4) Conservative jerks: Thor Johnson, Steve Knoblock

I actually agree with Johnson on the Toll Road! But this absolute hatred of the homeless and desire to restrict their freedom of travel completely — that’s just out of line and it will cost the city money in legal settlements. It is telling that San Clemente’s absolute worst candidate is the sole incumbent! Great, he wants to preserve the beaches. Being pro-cop can be good or not, depending on what it means. I think that cops should be paid well if they are required to act as professionals, meaning, for example, not rousting the homeless from being awake and peaceable in the city just because it frightens some people. And I think that governance is about more than just having sand. Reasonable people can discuss this reasonably; I think that I could discuss this with every candidate, maybe excluding Johnson, except Knoblock, who seems shut off to any reasonable disagreement. I can only imagine what he is like on the dais.

Now I’m going to figure out which three candidates to support from Category 2, and possibly from Category 3. The criterion is simple: who has the web presence to win, rather than just make a valiant effort. Elections are best if won.

Donna Vidrine: Good website, shows strong endorsements, including from Rep. Mike Levin
Mark Enmeir: Nice informative website, no endorsements shown, not updated with meet & greets unless he’s stopped
Zhen Wu: Good website, endorsed by Councilwoman Kathy Ward, SIX former Mayors, & Planning Commission Chair
Dennis Kamp: Good website, endorsed by DPOC, OC Labor Fed, Teamsters, Chris Duncan, OCEA, Planned Parenthood

Sorry to Mark Enmeir; you’re not likely to win. The other three all look like they have enough support to do so. (But I’d love to see you appointed to something appropriate.)

I’m guessing that Zhen Wu is indeed a Republican (Kamp just looks like one), and if any Democrats are telling readers not to vote for him on that account, send me their names and I will embarrass them. Personally, I rank them as Vidrine first, them Wu, then Kamp — PP endorsement , yes, but abortion is not much of a city government issue.

If any Republican wants to know how I’d rank Cabral, Fetty, Williams, and Aaron Washington — so, uh, they can vote against my recommendations? — let me know and I’ll try to get to it next week.

Vern: My consultations with the two councilmembers I trust down there – Kathy Ward and Chris Duncan – yields the same three nearly the same three. It seems EVERYONE things the world of Zhen Wu (and Chris adds Enmeir & Kamp.) Ward doesn’t believe in “slates” – she prefers the idea of the public freely making their choice over each candidate, but she DOES want everyone to vote for Zhen Wu! She also emphasizes what a turning point this is for San Clemente – ONLY Gene James is remaining in his seat; SHE is leaving council (termed out?); crazy Knoblock is up for re-election which he hopefully won’t get – so that’ll be three new people; PLUS if Duncan prevails for Assembly there’ll have to be a special election for that seat. FOUR NEW PEOPLE OUTTA FIVE – make sure they’re good ones! Wu, Enmeir, Kamp.

Again, my only problem with Enmeir is that he seems less likely to win than Vidrine — and I’d like all three to beat Knoblock. I could be wrong; I’ll do some more research including campaign funds.


City Council Member

District 3: John CampbellCody Martin, and Paul Lopez

John Campbell’s priorities:

Fully fund our First Responders and Deputy Sheriffs to promote a safer City.
– Explore immediate and long-term solutions to homelessness.
– Face traffic and parking challenges head on.
– Prioritize fiscal accountability and stability, while supporting our business economy.
Fight any attempt to raise taxes.
– Defend and protect open spaces and our equestrian heritage. I will protect our horse trails from the intrusions of the homeless and motorized bikes.
– Develop a program for San Juan residents to receive a free parking pass for the downtown corridor.

This “fully fund law enforcement and Sheriffs and pro-business while balancing the budget and no apparent new revenue source” is really driving me nuts after reading so many of these. No specific slam at John Campbell, but this becomes empty after a while. Vagueness as to traffic and parking and homelessness is little better. But then John Campbell does offer some specificity! Keep the homeless and motorized bikes off the horse trails! Free parking for residence for the downtown corridor — whether local businesses like it or not. (Implicitly.) I’m not sure I agree with either, but they at least give me something REAL to consider!

Campbell left this out of his candidate statement, but it’s his number 1 priority on Voter’s Edge: “Fight against poorly managed Sober Living facilities. Support policies requiring increased State inspections to ensure patient safety and ordinance compliance to protect our residential neighborhoods.” That boosts him in my eyes!

Now let’s turn to Parks and Rec Commission Chair Cody Martin’s statement.

I am a lifetime resident, as well as the chairman of our parks and recreation commission [4 years of service there], and small business owner. As a councilman, I am going to protect our history, including the Mission and Los Rios Street by supporting responsible development that doesn’t increase traffic or intrude on historic land. I will address the homelessness issue, and preserve our open space while beautifying our parks.

As a councilman I will always try to find consensus, however I will disagree agreeably whenever I cannot. Our elected officials need to give out more olive branches and less arrows.

I would also like to see the city crackdown on drunk driving. We can do this by giving law enforcement the tools they need to deal with this issue effectively, and utilizing our City trolleys creatively to get people around town without having to drive.

As a councilman, I will make sure that we maintain a balanced budget, so we can continue to fund robust projects like our long awaited downtown beautification.

I may disagree with parts of this, and find some of it a bit vague (like what he’d support about homelessness, and what more tools police need), but I like the civility pledge and found this to be a good statement.

Paul Lopez writes:

My father, who was a USMC veteran and LAPD detective, instilled in me a passion for helping others. This passion
inspired me to become an attorney for a nonprofit organization that provides mental health services to underserved communities. I will bring that same passion for service to San Juan Capistrano.

I currently serve as Vice-Chair of the Cultural Heritage Commission, where I focus on the betterment of our city by balancing the preservation of our past with a consideration for our future. My wife teaches at a San Juan
Capistrano elementary school which our children attend. I also volunteer at local food banks and coach my son’s baseball team.

I want to prioritize public safety and reduce crime activity by increasing resources to law enforcement. I also want to
introduce comprehensive and permanent solutions to help those experiencing homelessness.

Additionally, as a Commissioner, I opposed development that would increase traffic in our city and I voted for solutions to our parking shortage.

This is another good statement. Same concerns about vagueness as above, and may be a bit to eager to please (e.g., cops, his charity work, anti-traffic.) I like the Cultural Heritage background, especially for SJC.

I consider all of these are at least solid ‘B’s — above the curve for the county. I have a slight lean towards Campbell based on the issue — “sober living houses” — that I did not find of his statement, but found elsewhere; I’ll give him the “light green,” but I don’t think any of these choices seem less than decent.

Vern: Only one seat up in SJC!? At least the Derek Reeves era is over. The biggest problem down there has been a council dominated by DEVELOPERS, and my sources tell me 1) Campbell is in the POCKET of developers; 2) Cody is a teenaged, malleable, wannabe career politician who will succumb to the developers, and 3) Lopez is the only one they trust. And SPEAKING OF LOPEZ, he read this guide, and, stung by Greg’s charges of “vagueness”, sent me a lengthy e-mail explaining his positions in greater detail, which I’ll post in the comments section even though it’s long. Well, I’m with LOPEZ and I hope Greg re-considers…



  • Sal Tinajero! — he stands with reformers (like Sarmiento on the current stark division between City Council factions
  • Valerie Amezcua — I’m not sure where she stands on the current stark division between City Council factions
  • Jesse Nestor — I’m not sure he is even aware of the current stark division between City Council factions
  • Jose Solorio — he stands against the reformers on the current stark division between City Council factions

Vern: . . .

City Council Members

Read this story from Voice of OC about someone (presumably from the Council) improperly leaking confidential closed session documents about police contract negotiations to the Santa Ana police — and Bacerra in particular characterizing this as an attack on police. As with Anaheim Council members and Disney, the names in black below are actually representing the entity in contract negotiation with the City, to the City’s detriment, and are picking up large campaign contributions as a result. It’s disgusting.

Ward 2: Nelida Mendoza (qi) v. Benjamin Vazquez!

Ward 4: Phil Bacerra v. Amalia Mejia

Ward 6: David Penaloza v. Manny Escamilla!

Don’t tell Vern, but I actually think that this set of races is more important than Anaheim’s! Santa Ana now has two crops of City Council members — basically, one good and one bad. This is the bad one — and if a bad candidate wins for Mayor, they’ll control the whole city and party like it’s 1999 Pulidoville. I had already known and respected Vazquez and Escamilla from previous elections — they’re among the best we have running for any City Council — but it was a pleasure to learn more about Mejia, who seems like an exciting, well-educated, and committed prospective addition to the Council. (Also, please read the above comment about thei Mayor’s race; it applies here as well.)


City Council Members

District 1: Joe Kalmick (qi), Gregg Barton, and Christopher DeSanto

I liked all three statements here in different ways. Joe Kalmick makes the point that, as Mayor, he has kept the city running well during a quarter-decade of the pandemic — and it seems to be true and that’s a pretty good sell. Christopher DeSanto offers a pretty useful skill set from the corporate world, and would get the nod if Kalmick weren’t running. Merchant Marine Gregg Barton is sort of entertainingly cranky, calling for a return to in-person meetings — with the acute pandemic receding, I’m pretty sure that that’s happening anyway, dude! — but also presents an interesting and useful skill set. (Wouldn’t a merchant Marine miss a lot of meetings, though? Doesn’t matter, just curious.) Basically, successful stewardship should be rewarded: Kalmick is endorsed.

District 3: Fred MacksoudStephanie Wade, and Lisa Landau

Here again, three sound and appealing statements! I distinguish them mostly by the names that they drop. Fred Macksoud was a long-term Deputy DA (in LA) and based on his work with OSHA knows a lot about pre-emptive investigations; that’s a good skill set that the city should put to use. Lisa Landau name-drops being the communications director for Seal Beach Police Volunteers — saying that she therefore knows the importance of public safety — and also gives a reasonably good statement (putting her well above average) on homelessness. Stephanie Wade is a former Marine Corps infantry officer, veterans policy advisor, and Vice-Chair of the County’s Veterans Advisory Council, which she notes is nice given the location of the Naval Weapons Station (although why she thinks that the sailors would want to talk to a Marine mystifies me; I’ll ask my deployed sailor daughter about that.) She notes her involvement with Surfrider, a coast-related environmental group, and she shows a keen awareness of the particular environmental challenges facing Seal Beach, including beach erosion and the waste in ocean water from both being at the drain end of the San Gabriel River and adjacent to the Port of Long Beach. Honestly, Wade seems more than appropriate for the Council, she seems needed on the Council, and therefore has my endorsement.

District 5:

District 5 is apparently the Leisure World district. Having done a fair amount of districting, I don’t know if it spills over into the rest of the city, or if some of the rest of the city spills into it, or if its size is exactly 1/5 of the district. Anyway, there’s a clear age-related theme in these ballot statements.

  • Jonathan Rich
  • Nathan Steele
  • Michael McGrorty
  • Mariann Klinger

Mariann Klinger has been a Planning Commissioner for 7 years and seems to enjoy the city a lot; she’s also a former municipal journalist who covered city council meetings for years. Michael McGrorty is a retired investigator with a strong interest in Public Safety issues. Nathan Steele is in conservative radio and served as a missionary in Africa. Jonathan Rich is a statistician who has used data in quality improvement problem-solving.

I perceive (rightly or wrongly) McGrorty and Steele as being on the conservative side. Of those two, I prefer McGrorty, whose work ethic and investigative bend skills would seem useful to the city even if he isn’t elected. Steele doesn’t bring a lot of apparent skills useful to the Council and frankly, given the tenor of his statement, seems likely to be a disruptive influence. Read my discussions of the other races and you’ll see that Seal Beach has real problems to face — and ideological ax-grinding from the dais won’t help. So, if you’re conservative, McGrorty is better.

The other two seem non-ideological. Rich’s professed skills would doubtless be useful to any city, but they seem most so in an advisory capacity rather than on the dais. Klinger’s experience as a Planning Commission, understanding of city-level policy — and her consequent ability to represent her neighbors’ interests and concerns to the other Council members — make her best suited for a Council seat. I hope that even many conservative voters within Leisure World would agree with that and support her as well. I endorse Mariann Klinger.



D. J. Shawver

Write in Kevin Carr, just to mess with him.

Council Members

District 1: Donald Torres v. Elizabeth Barbara Maciol-Wiktor

I wouldn’t be surprised if Elizabeth Barbara Maciol-Wiktor — whom I’ll refer to by part of her email address, “ewictor” — would end up getting the city sued someday. But first let’s address her opponent.

Educator Donald Torres has this nice and reasonable statement:

I work at Western High School and mentor students going through mental health struggles. I help these students to graduate and become productive members of our society. I previously served as a Stanton Public Safety Committee member, and I’m also a community volunteer.

If elected to serve you on the Stanton City Council, my focus will be on:

– Keeping residents and neighborhoods safe and healthy.

– Reducing homelessness by investing in mental health and housing.

– Creating economic opportunity and attracting good jobs.

– Maintaining our parks, streets, medians, and sidewalks.

– Improving programs for our youth and seniors.

– Language accessibility for our immigrant communities.

My pledge to you is that I will always listen to residents, and I will invest the time and energy needed to be an effective City Councilmember. I have a strong collaborative approach that will bring people together to find common ground and build a stronger Stanton.

Dashes before his bullet points added for clarity.

This is an attractive and realistic agenda. And Torres having spent time as a Public Safety Committee member suggests that he’ll have insights about how best to keep Stanton safe, within legal limits.

“Ewictor” sounds like someone saying “Evictor” with an anti-Romanian accent; now that you’ll see her ballot statement, you’ll understand why I employ that name for Maciol-Wiktor. Emphasis below is all from me :

I will proactively enforce the solution to end homelessness in Stanton. We must relocate transients who refuse our city’s help.

I will keep Stanton’s budget balanced, our economy growing, and fight Inflation with citywide developments while protecting your tax dollars.

I will make Public Safety my #1 priority. Our Firefighters and Police who keep Stanton safe have my full support as we solve homelessness together.

I will provide essential public services, safe neighborhoods, and
affordable housing.

I will protect Proposition-13, safeguarding homeowner’s rights. I
support voters controlling taxation.

I will expand our outstanding community programs for families,
kids, and seniors.

Together we will solve homelessness, fight inflation, and protect our

So: she’ll relocate transients (Evictor!) who don’t take whatever deal the city offers, even if crummy. She’ll “fight Inflation with citywide developments” — what does that even mean? — while promising more money to police and fire staff (this may surprise her, but they will ask for it!), to solving homelessness, and for community programs for families, kids and seniors. And, of course, she wants a balanced budget. I don’t think that she’s thought through the implications and contradictions. Torres is far readier for prime time; he has my endorsement. Note that a commenter here asserts that he is Ada’s son, and not a real educator. The latter is troubling if true, but as for the former: I don’t set Ada as my North Star so that I can head south. I tend to think that she’ll undermine herself but good at some point, and that will take care of that.

District 3: Gary Taylor

Write in Kevin Carr, just to mess with him.



Austin Lumbard (i) v. BECKIE GOMEZ!

I realize that there’s a lot of “Lumbard Support” for the, ahem, the “Sitting Mayor” — I had to make that pun once, and I wont do it again (today) — Austin Lumbard in traditional Republican circles. Beckie Gomez has been a lone dissenting voice on a Council that really needs one. So let’s line up their views of the city.

Lumbard writes (leaving out non-policy material):

Tustin faces its share of challenges: homelessness, crime, housing, traffic – just to name a few.

With your vote for me as Mayor, we will bring our city together to address these challenges and create a safer, more resilient community for every Tustin resident.

In my short time on the Tustin Council, we have successfully expanded public safety resources to every neighborhood and school, strengthened Tustin’s home values, and promoted sustainable development only where appropriate – while preserving the character of Tustin.

I have been a strong proponent of paying down our city’s unfunded pension liability while making strategic investments in Tustin’s rainy day fund that helped Tustin address the economic impact of COVID.

All emphasis added; some biographical material omitted.

This isn’t bad, but … well, I have a few notes.

First of all: homelessness is a big issue on people’s minds, and he duly mentions it first: but do you see any mention of it in what follow? It is conspicuously absent, unless he covers it with “public safety resources,” “appropriate sustainable development,” or … “preserving the character of Tustin.” That’s a conspicuous absence!

Beyond that, I see a lot of talking about spending money without talking about where that money came from — especially ironic from someone who (rightly) invokes the issue of unfunded pension liability — and taking credit for that which he did not do. I’m not so much talking about putting money in a rainy-day fund that cushioned the city from the economic impact of COVID — that’s an excellent example of why one wants to have a rainy-day fund and if he was among those who voted for it, great — but “his” having “strengthened Tustin’s home values.” Dude. You can’t take personal credit for something that’s happening all throughout the county and most of the state, almost all of which does not enjoy your enlightened leadership as a “lifelong local resident.”

OK, on to Gomez, who doesn’t need Lumbard’s supp — sorry, that was an accident.

As your Tustin Councilmember, I’ve always stood up for residents. Whether its facing the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, restoring Tustin’s economic security, or protecting our neighborhoods and ensuring public safety, I have the experience and vision to bring our diverse communities together as Tustin’s first elected mayor.

Tustin needs experienced leadership we can trust. As a former PTA President, retired college dean, county school
board member
, and three-term councilmember, I’ve always worked within our community and with neighborhood and small business leaders to keep our city a great place to live, work, and raise a family. My husband and I have been your Tustin neighbors for 35 years. …

As mayor, I’ll continue the same tradition of accessibility, transparency, and fiscal responsibility I’ve always had as your councilmember, ensuring safe neighborhoods, protecting taxpayers, creating a dynamic local economy, and providing new recreational opportunities for all ages.

All emphasis added; some biographical material omitted.

Note what Gomez emphasizes: experienced leadership; diversity of prior positions, especially in education; the diversity of the city’s communities; accessibility and transparency as well as the generally claimed “fiscal responsibility”; and (rarely mentioned) recreational opportunities.

Tustin can decide which version of their future they’d like. I am more impressed with Gomez’s, whom I endorse.

Council Members

District 3: Ray Schnell v. Frank Gomez

OK, we have another even more clearly delineated contest here, between Ray Schnell, who brings in even more partisan Republican support, and Frank Gomez, who brings in the likes of Katie Porter and Dave Min. Here’s Schnell’s take:

Crime, homelessness, and inflation are on the rise across America. As your Tustin City Councilman, I will prioritize public and school safety, economic prosperity, and government transparency.

Public Safety: I will always support and fund law enforcement. I will pursue responsible fire prevention, especially for neighborhoods most at risk to wildfires throughout Tustin Ranch. I will work with other leaders to ensure homelessness programs keep our streets safe, but also provide the most vulnerable of our society with the resources they need.

Transparent Leadership: I will work to preserve our quality of life and the economic vitality of our beautiful community. I will oppose new taxes and wasteful spending that increase the cost of living. I pride myself on transparency and honesty, and will keep these traits at the forefront of every decision I make.

This ended up better than I had expected after the bludgeoning of the first sentence. There’s the usual blank check for police and firefighters, combined with a somewhat incongruous attack on taxes and spending. (Know what’s really wasteful? Paying out damages for police misconduct. Any thoughts on that?) I wish that he’s said more about his homeless program, but it sounds like his heart’s in the right place there. And he pledges transparency and honesty — of which we will remind him if he’s elected!

Here’s Frank Gomez’s take:

Tustin is a great place to live and raise a family and during challenging times, we must come together and build on this success. As a university professor and administrator, previous city councilmember, Mayor, and school board member, I have the experience, leadership qualities, vision, and passion to address issues and put the needs of residents, businesses, and schools first.

As your councilmember, my focus is on our safety, prosperity, and future. My responsibility is your well-being. Let’s be prepared for everything that might make us unsafe and give people resources when problems arise. Tustin has helped many people build their lives. Let’s continue to make finding a home, working in the city, and starting a business as possible as ever. I want to help our community plan for a future where we grow. Let’s strategize by imagining some of our upcoming changes

The differences I see are less in policy stances than in relevant experience they have to implement them. Frank Gomez’s values seem great and his prior experience is impressive. I endorse him.


Council Members (3 seats)

  • Crystal Miles (i)
  • Donna Buxton
  • Marybeth Felcyn
  • Jordan Wu
  • Nicol Jones

I liked the statement of Nicol Jones — who has enough prestige endorsements from across the spectrum and seems like a shoo-in — in many respects, but with some qualms. Jones seemed like a possible a Covid denier based on the phrase “I prioritized student mental health” — a dog whistle being used this year by Covid deniers this year, but also a phrase that can be used accurately and innocuously who actually did work on student mental health — but she has commented below to clarify that she wasn’t anti-mask and that she received her recognition from the OCDE, not the Marke-marked OCBE. I liked the statement of Jordan Wu even more — it promises some useful balance to the Council. The other three all seemed pretty much the same to me, so I won’t choose a third, making this a mild “bullet endorsement.” Definitely vote for Wu, I’d vote for Jones too, and I’ll recommend stopping there. Do not vote for Miles, she is an anti-gay suppressor.




  • Chi Charlie Nguyen
  • Moses Castillo
  • Kimberly Ho
  • Tai Dobest of the four you’ll see on the ballot
  • TERRY RAINS — qualified write-in candidate (meaning her votes will be tabulated); Greg endorses her, Vern is (reasonably enough) still deciding whether her chance of winning as a somewhat late-entering write-in is enough to surpass his preference for Do among the four on the ballot

Criminy! Chi Charlie and Kim Ho, and were both subjects of the Westminster recall a couple of years ago, and Tai Do is a cop who may not be good on policy but seems to be pretty honestand now they’ve all gone Mayor-happy! I can’t find the recall proponents’ website, but Vern will know how to contact them for recommendations. But if you can’t wait to fill out your ballot, here’s my best solo effort.

I checked out Moses Castillo first, and he’s an LA Detective whose policy stand is that he “will be tough on crime again, support our Police again, cut government red tape and support job creators again, protect our families and children again and move homeless off the streets.” Beyond from the “round ’em up” approach to the homeless, is it true that Westminster has stopped funding the police, and gone against job creators, justifying the two “again”? This is literally the worst candidate statement of the bunch. Going outside the recalled trio does not seem like a viable solution.

Kimberly Ho is a non-starter — I remember that much. And her ballot statement seems to come off of a campaign consultant’s assembly line, containing specific wording that I’ve seen in several other ones. So the question, until I am further instructed, is who’s worse: Tai Do or Chi Charlie?

I remember that Tai Do is a cop, even without his helpful reminder in his ballot designation. His pitch is:

I have served on the City Council since 2018 and have been a police officer for 26 years. I believe in balanced budgets and lower fees, making our neighborhoods and schools safer, government transparency and accountability. Our city is facing severe budget challenges due to overspending by past councils. As mayor I promise to stop this practice.

I decided to run for Mayor because it is time to bring our community together under new leadership in the Mayor’s Office. When elected I will bring a new perspective and ideas. I will work nonstop to bring the community together.

I am the candidate who has the experience to bring Westminster together. I have almost three decades of public service, and I commit to listen to your concerns and lead selflessly. As Mayor, I will bring City Hall closer to the residents

Honestly, for a conservative, this is not that bad.

As for businessman Chi Charlie Nguyen: I remember that someone at the conservative site in our sidebar wrote a story slamming him for accepting a project labor agreement. I, um, don’t consider that disqualifying. Here’s what has has to say:

Our city currently faces serious financial challenges but we must protect our public safety and community service.

In this critical time, the City needs a Mayor who is open-minded and visionary for the future of the City. I’m that person. [Bio: I’m a Councilman, business owner, etc. left out.]

Here are my goals in the next four years as your mayor:

– Balance Westminster’s annual budget with a healthy surplus
– Deliver more public safety resources to better serve and protect all residents
– Renovate and expand city parks for all Westminster residents
– Promote a lean but effective workforce to ensure continued essential services
– Commit full transparency and accountability to Westminster residents while reducing red-tape at City Hall
– Create a favorable business environment, streamlining the process to attract more investments
– Keep a clear and open channel of communication with residents

Again, and to pretty much the same degree: for a conservative, this is not that bad.

Are their hints on their websites — such as endorsements? You can check them out here: Chi Tai. (Tai’s won’t let you opt of of cookies! So I skedaddled early.) Couldn’t find any, though each of them is pictured standing with another person (whom I presume was Vietnamese), if that will help.

I’m going to defer to Vern between these two choices — which among other things involves an assessment of who is lying less and able to deliver on the less draconian of these promises more. Until he weighs in, it’s pretty much a coin flip between these two. But after I made my discovery about endorsers in District 4, that you can read For now, for now I’m settled (in light green only) on Tai Do. Lobby me in comments if you wish!

Oh, one last point: A progressive could have gone into this race and won it with as little as 21% of the vote! This is, among other things, a perfect example of why a list of who’s running for office must be available through a clear link on the city’s website from the START!

URGENT UPDATE BY GREG: A person named Terry Rains just notified Jodi Balma on Facebook that they are an officially qualified write-in candidate in the Westminster Mayor’s race. I want to know more about them before I endorse them (or not), but my guess is that the only kind of write-in who would be jumping into the race right now would be one that I’d like!

Council Members

District 1: Amy Phan West v. John Gentile

Here’s what Amy Phan has to say, with most non-policy-related information excluded:

Rising crime rates and the crushing regulations have pushed many businesses into bankruptcy or to another state. Yet our City Council is “fiddling while Westminster burns.” Instead of focusing on the safety of our neighborhoods, these politicians are bickering over monuments. The bickering over trivial matters usually last until 1:00 am in the morning. This is an embarrassment. And it must stop now.

As your next councilmember, I will fight to:

– Fully fund police and fire.
– Revitalize the west-side of Westminster.
– Ensure that the tragedy of homelessness is addressed

(I don’t know if she’s ever been to a Council meeting, but you don’t always get to avoid these fights — unless you just want to give in to someone who may be doing something really obnoxious. So does she suggest just surrendering?)

I have to ask: is anyone really arguing against fully funding police and fire — whatever that means in practice? Is anyone running for this seat not in favor of “revitalizing the west side? And when she talks about “addressing the homelessness situation, does she mean services, housing, or a round-up and bus ticket out? Be clear on this!

Here’s what John Gentile has to say, with most non-policy-related information excluded :

As a 25 Year retired investigator from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, I became a court-recognized expert in Gangs, Vice, and Narcotics. I have followed, worked with, and led Law Enforcement Officers through-out Orange County, making all our lives a little safer.

I own Posse bar located in District 1. [And did many good things]

I once again want to serve my community. With my training and experience, I will focus on the corruption allegations, threats of bankruptcy, and fully fund our Police Department. I will also address the homelessness and drug addiction and tighten up security at our schools.

Once again: “addressing homelessness and drug addition” without details leaves me free to infer the worst about what “addressing” means — so if you mean something other than raids and expulsions of the homeless, and summary execution of drug addicts, you’ve GOT to be more clear. In this race, though, that cancels out.

Normally, if I’m looking at a Sheriff’s Deparment investigator claiming 25 years of experience in Gangs, Vice, and Narcotics — enough to be a “court-recognized expert” — running for office, I am running the other way waving my hands and screaming. But there is something appealing in what he says about focusing on the corruption allegations within Westminster, and bankruptcy threats (to the extent that means people shoveling city resources out to favored interests, as in Anaheim) that I have to admit I do find appealing.

I also find appealing the likelihood that, unlike Amy Phan West, Gentile is not going to take every opportunity that arises as a chance to parkour up to a higher office.

Westminster needs help: it needs someone less ambitious to advance. Vern may disagree — and I will likely listen to him when he does — but, especially as Vern prefers him, I’m endorsing Gentile.

District 4: James PhamNamquan Nguyen, Teri Vu Nguyen

James Pham is an immigration attorney and former Community Services Commissioner from from 2019-2021. Here’s his opening argument:

[As a Commissioner, I] was glad to be involved in the decision-making process of cleaning up some of our parks and allocating the City budget to do so.

The City of Westminster is currently facing very serious budget deficit problems. My goal is help bring the City out of near bankruptcy, find means to increase revenue, attempt to balance the budget and bring more positive attention to the City Council. I believe that every citizen, every culture and every area should be respected, well-represented and honored. We should also care for our veteran and elderly as every society should.

I like that Pham gives at least some attention to the fact that budget balancing, especially for a city flirting with bankruptcy, does mean figuring out ways to increase revenue and that — especially when one recognizes some need to spend (more, I infer) on community services — short term balanced budget has to be a sincere goal, rather than a promise that will almost surely be broken. While I have no reason whatsoever to think that he’s anti-police and fire funding, he’s not trying to get knee-jerk support by, as most candidates do, promising everything the might want and pretending that it doesn’t come as a real, hard money, cost.

Namquan Nguyen is an engineer and a city Traffic Commissioner. Here is his excerpted statement:

[I want] to bring creative, pragmatic, and collaborative solutions, with the goal of representing the best interest of all residents within the District and throughout the city. I graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 2005 and own a small business in Westminster.

As your councilmember, here are my priorities:

– Maintain a small, limited municipal government with a balanced budget, low taxes and no fee increases
– Maintain public safety resources for fire and police services to serve Westminster residents
– Increase funding for road and street improvements to relieve traffic congestion in the city
– Ensure transparency and accountability from city officials while reducing red-tape at City Hall

His listed priorities are pretty standard conservativism — limited government, balanced budget, spending increases only for police and fire and less regulation (whether it’s “needless” is a matter of opinion) for business. He does favor spending road improvements (presumably sensitized by his appointed office). His wanting “transparency and accountability” is good — but in Westminster it either has to have real (and sharp!) teeth or, sorry to say, it is hot air. (Note: after finishing this, I decided to check his endorsers. Tyler Diep, Tri Ta, Ken Maddox, Travis Allen. Hot air, then!)

Some may notice that Teri Vu Nguyen — who is my age, which I mention because I had many college who came to the U.S. from Vietnam around when she did — had some grammatical errors in her second (if not third) language; given her background that does not matter to me and should not matter to anyone else. Here’s an excerpt of her statement:

I will work with other city officials and my constituents to strengthen the city financial. We must have a balanced budget with adequate reserves. Your family lives within a budget and so should city government.

I believe in transparency, moving forward revitalizing our city infrastructure and economy, and working together within our community for a better quality of life.

I believe in partnership with our community and first responders to fight crime, to get homeless people into shelter, and to protect our children.

I am confident that some of what I see in vagueness in some of her answer (and she’s far better than many — actually saying how she wants to help the homeless, for one thing) would be rectified if she were writing in her native tongue, so I’ll offer the same critique that I would of anyone else and invite reasons to recalibrate its worth as they wish.

Yes, I agree that cities have to balance their budgets, establish reserves, and (though she doesn’t mention it) pay down their pension debt — especially in times of higher interest rates. The question is how one reconciles this along with more spending on infrastructure, “economy” (I’ll get to that), building a better collective quality of life, support for police, sheltering the homeless, and protecting children. I’d have liked to know more in how she reconciles that.

On to the decision! While I initially considered both Nguyens to be acceptable, regardless of my different perspective on some matters, after seeing what crows Namquan runs with I no longer do in his case (so I rewrote this paragraph.) I do still consider Teri Vu Nguyen to be a decent choice for conservatives. But I’m really impressed at how well James Phan recognizes the utter seriousness of Westminster’s present situation and what is requires, as well as his refusal to cater to those who may think that a city can have higher spending and balanced budgets simply by wishing for them. Let’s remember that bankruptcy likelys mean cutting pensions for past police, firefighters, and other city employees — and that is not keeping faith with “the elders,” as Phan puts it. Westminster sorely needs that sort of realism and values-based practicality on its City Council in these tough times — and I strongly endorse James Phan for this seat.


Council Members (2 seats)

Carlos RodriguezJanice LimRyan Bent

The RPOC endorses Rodriguez and Lim. I think that Bent — who is already on NOCCCD — is also a Republican, so don’t get your hopes up for him as an alternative. You can always write someone in. Or sometwo!



Directors (2 seats)

  • Jeffrey Rips (i)
  • Carol Churchill
  • Jo Shade
  • Michael Maynard

I don’t know why Jeffrey Rips and Michael Maynard didn’t file statements. But I’m endorsing Rips anyway because he took on fellow Director Jeffrey Barke — read the story — and I appreciate that. Maynard — who quit the Board two years ago –doesn’t seem nearly as discerning. I was prepared to like Carol Churchill, but she lost me with her extremist candidate statement. Jo Shade is right that this Board needs more female leadership, and she gets my nod for the second seat.


Director, District 4

Frank Bryant (i) v. Diana Fascinelli

Fascinelli’s candidate statement just runs rings around Bryant’s. You can take my word for it or read them yourself: the links are at their names in the previous sentence.


Director (3 seats)

  • Jessie Bullis (ai)
  • John Nelson
  • Laurie Martz
  • Andrew Ward
  • Ted Wright
  • Brittney Kuhn

John Nelson and Andrew Ward don’t have ballot statements, so they don’t get considered. Only one of the other four will lose out. I don’t see a clunker in any of their four statements, and people in this area will know them — and the sometimes confusing politics of this area — better than I do. So I’m just going to say that they all pass muster. Comments from Silveradans amd Modjeskwegans (yes, I’m making that name up) are quite welcome.



Division 1: Mike Scheafer (i) v. Michael Andrew Seiden

Division 3: Bob Ooten (i) v. John Mourani

Division 5: Arlene Schafer (i) v. Dean Howard

The incumbents all deserve re-election. The challengers have been put forward by the likes of old guard rejected Republicans Steve Mensinger and Jim Righeimer to promote merging this agency with the Mesa Water District. Their pitch is that trash pickup in Costa Mesa has been slow and spotty. What they don’t tell you is that this isn’t due to this agency: this is an industry-wide issue. In fact, Costa Mesa one of the lowest rates in the County, because they signed on with their contractor long ago, it first started, and it has remained at a comparatively low level. The attacks on them have been as fake and vicious as you would imagine given their scabrous sponsors.


Directors (3 seats)

  • Sergio Contreras (i)
  • Andrew Nguyen (i)
  • Mark Nguyen (i)
  • Ashton Kauwe
  • Jason Gray

Jason Gray did not submit a candidate statement and is therefore (fittingly) grayed out. I swear I didn’t plan it this way.The incumbents seem to know what they’re doing. No red flags here; I endorse them. Kauwe seems eager but vague, and doesn’t seem as clued in to what the job entails.




Division 3: Doug Reinhart (i), Soha VazirniaAndrew Han

Andrew Han’s statement is nice, but the weakest of the three. Soha Vazirnia makes cogent points about her experience as a staffer and the need for turnover and the benefits of having a woman on the board — all of which is true. But my research tells me that Doug Reinhart testified about Poseidon before the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board this year, and he got the speaker cards just after Kelly Rowe, which suggests some connection between them. That is enough for me this year. If Reinhart was actually pro-Poseidon, someone can write in and let me know — but I doubt it. When Reinhart retires, I hope that Vazirnia runs.


Directors (3 seats)

  • Diane Rifkin (ai)
  • Bill Moorhead (i)
  • Donald Froelich (i)
  • Lily McGill

McGill’s statement is nice, but there’s a difference between being a conservationist and a water engineer. The incumbents seem to have done a good job; I’m inclined to let them continue doing it.



Division 4: Jim Atkinson (i) v. Russell Baldwin

Atkinson is the least malign of the current (otherwise awful) set of directors, but he hasn’t been able to restrain his colleague. Baldwin is a smart progressive who has been on the OCEA Board of Directors; and the sweep might as well be fully clean..

Division 5: Shawn Dewane v. Shayanne Wright!

Dewane was a major supporter of Poseidon and of the Poseidon-pimping astroturf group “Cal Desal.” Wright is truly something special: she is an engineer with a background in business leadership, on which she lectures internationally. She has been fundraising from the grassroots like crazy while Dewane seems to be going bonkers from the Poseidon spigot having finally been shut off. It must be so hard to lose his grip on that sweet money. Let’s make it worse!



Division 1: Dina Nguyen (qi) v. Ray Hiemstra!

Political hack Dina Nguyen’s presence in this position has been a sick joke for too long. Ray Hiemstra is supremely qualified for this position and should replace her.

Vern: . . .

Division 5: Steve SheldonTina Nguyen, and Lee Yoo!

Tina Nguyen submitted no candidate statement and I suspect that she simply was asked to file in this race to split the Asian/Challenger vote for Lee Yoo. Steve Sheldon’s presence on this board is an insult to all of Orange County. He’s a political hack in office to collect a stipend. While he takes credit for lots of accomplishments of the Board, I challenge him to come up with even one of them that wouldn’t have happened without him. Lee Yoo is an actual water chemist who is endorsed not by the Republican politicians of the district, but by a Hall of Fame of current water policymakers, listed below, and he should absolutely be elected over a talentless political grifter like Sheldon.

  • Kelly Rowe, Director, Orange County Water District
  • Doug Reinhart, Director, Irvine Ranch Water District
  • John Withers, Director, Irvine Ranch Water District
  • Peer Swan, Director, Irvine Ranch Water District
  • Steve LaMar, President, Irvine Ranch Water District
  • Karl Seckel, Director, Municipal Water District of Orange County
  • Larry Dick, Director, Municipal Water District of Orange County
  • Megan Yoo Schneider, President, Municipal Water District of Orange County
  • Sat Tamaribuchi, Director, Municipal Water District of Orange County

One can hardly do better than that roster for this job!

Vern: . . .

Division 7: Kelly Rowe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! v. Jim Fisler

I’m not saying that Jim Fisler is the worst person in Orange County … but I’m not not saying it either. I will say that Hydrogeologist/Engineering Geologist Kelly Rowe is one of the best qualified, most ethical, and most judicious of any of the people in the county serving on any Water Board — and that the comparison between them is stark. Fisler is a gormless horror show — as we will discuss further in the weeks to come. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin, “deadwhitemale”!

Vern: . . .

Yorba Linda W.D.

Directors (3 seats)

  • Phil Hawkins (i)
  • Thomas Lindsey (i)
  • Brooke Jones (i)
  • Brett Barbre
  • Sean Phayakapong
  • Kim-Anh Le

Dirty self-dealer Barbre does not deserve to get back on this district’s Board. Those not against him are with him!



Division 2: Larry Dick (i) v. Joe Dovinh

Larry Dick has earned his re-election to this position. Joe Dovinh, you’re not qualified for this, so go concentrate on your other race,

Division 5: Sat Tamaribuchi (i) v. Randall Crane

Sat Tamaribuchi has done a good job and I have planned to endorse him. But people are coming around telling me that Randall Crane is even better — well-qualified for the job but also more disposed to political activism on water. Having read their candidate statements, which you’ll find linked to their names above, I’m tentatively tilting towards Crane — but not yet definitively, hence the light green. I’d like to hear from people who know more than I do about this in comments. I found Crane’s website really impressive — but I wish he had an endorsement list more like Lee Yoo’s above, rather than DPOC and two Irvine Democratic officeholders.



Assigned Measure Letters & Full Layout

G – Capistrano Unified School District SFID No. 3 Bond Measure LEAN NO — I’m sympathetic to the cause, but interest rates have gone sky high, though they will probably come way down in a year or two. If this is authorized, I doubt that the Board will wait. So I suggest resubmitting at a time when issuing bonds makes more sense.

H – Santa Ana Unified School District Term Limits NO with no argument for or against it, tie goes to the status quo

I – City of Aliso Viejo, Councilmember Term Limits NOsee above

J – City of Anaheim, Anaheim Hotel Tax (TOT Measure) LEAN NO — but if the Police and Fire interests spend their money on promoting this measure rather than on candidates, I’m sure that they can get past my reservations.

K – City of Costa Mesa, Ordinance to Revitalize Commercial and Industrial Areas and Protect Residential Neighborhoods NEUTRAL. Click that link and read it yourself. Any Coastal Tablers out there want to weigh in?

L – City of Huntington Beach, Charter Amendment Measure 1 YES! Measures L, M, and N are written by the reformers on the HB City Council who are standing up to Michael Gates’s attempted coup from his perch — hopefully soon to end — as City Attorney. These are necessary reforms; I endorse them wholeheartedly!

M – City of Huntington Beach, Charter Amendment Measure 2 YES! Measures L, M, and N are written by the reformers on the HB City Council who are standing up to Michael Gates’s attempted coup from his perch — hopefully soon to end — as City Attorney. These are necessary reforms; I endorse them wholeheartedly!

N – City of Huntington Beach, Charter Amendment Measure 3 YES! Measures L, M, and N are written by the reformers on the HB City Council who are standing up to Michael Gates’s attempted coup from his perch — hopefully soon to end — as City Attorney. These are necessary reforms; I endorse them wholeheartedly!

O – City of Huntington Beach, Taxation on Cannabis Businesses YES! Huntington Beach now has legal cannabis. One of the big selling points of legal cannabis is being able to tax it, at a reasonable rare, for good public use. But due to Prop 13, a new tax requires a 2/3 vote of the district involved — and in June the measure fell short. Now they’re trying again — and it should win.

P – City of La Palma, La Palma City Services Measure YES! It moves the TOT for hotel rentals from 8% to12%. I don’t know how big it a deal that is: I don’t think think of La Palma as a major hotel city. But it also raises it for Short-Term Rentals — and I can easily imagine that La Palma has quite a few of those! So yes, have the guests pay more for proximity to OC’s tourist attractions.

Q – City of Laguna Beach, Municipal Code Amendment to Create an Overlay Zoning District and Require Voter Approval of Major Development Projects YES? I think, but am far from sure, that the proponents have the better of the ballot arguments that you find at the link. But I would love to hear from some Laguna Beach residents — especially those associated with its venerable Democratic Club. This mostly comes down to what exceptions are offered to the additional requirement for large projects — and I’m betting that when this went to court (and it would) if a smaller product was blocked by it, the court would construe those exceptions broadly. One thing that concerns me is in the City Attorney’s comments on the measure, which suggest that in a special election (rather than a regular election) a majority of the registered voters in Laguna Beach would have to vote for the project — which seems incredibly unreasonable, given the low turnout in special elections. I think that they need a second opinion.

R – City of Laguna Beach, Municipal Code Amendment to Create a Hotel Development Overlay Zoning District and Require Voter Approval of Hotel Development Projects YES? I’m a little less convinced that this is addressing a serious problem at hand — but on the other side the scare talk about some labor group from Los Angeles using this to, um, create fewer jobs at hotels here (?) seems both overwrought and undercooked. Beyond that, my comments above generally apply here as well.

S – City of Laguna Beach, Municipal Code Amendment to Create a Minimum Wage and Workplace Standards and Protections for Hotel Employees YES! $18 minimum wage and protections for housekeepers? Yeah. Come on, wealthy coastal town, if Anaheim can do it then you can do it! The statements are a classic workers vs. Chamber of Commerce interests sort of fight, so this is an easy call for me.

T – City of Laguna Woods, Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance YES! Huntington Beach now has legal cannabis. One of the big selling points of legal cannabis is being able to tax it, at a reasonable rare, for good public use. But due to Prop 13, a new tax requires a 2/3 vote of the district involved — and in June the measure fell short. Now they’re trying again — and it should win.

U – City of San Clemente, Appointive City Clerk YES. Normally, I’d be fine with this — but the best work in OC on elections is being done in Huntington Beach — and its clerk is elected. So I’m torn. But the endorsers tip me to be mildly in favor.

V – City of San Clemente, Appointive City Treasurer YES! If San Clemente has an elected Treasurer, then it shouldn’t. Wiser minds in Brea have been trying to eliminate our elected Treasurer position for years. This is a position where a city wants expertise, not popularity.

W – City of Santa Ana, Santa Ana Business License Tax Equity and Flexible Tax Holiday YES! I’m trusting Johnathan Ryan Hernandez that this is a good reform and am ignoring that Phil Bacerra is his co-proponent. Now how about the city investigating what happened in that original lottery, for the sake of history and the public record?

X – City of Santa Ana, Charter Amendments NO! The “no recommendation is not because Nelida Mendoza is the proponent — although that might influence me if I didn’t already have strong feelings about this. I can understand wanting a lifetime ban on the Mayor after 4 terms, given the Pulido experience, but this wouldn’t affect Pulido and might keep a far better Mayor out of office forever after eight years. Seems like a waste of talent. Requiring a 2/3 vote for the budget is so patently a Republican measure that I’m surprised (not surprised) that Mendoza is for it: no, don’t give more people vetoes over city budgets. As I’m opposed to this for the above reasons, I’m not looking into whether expanding the application of the Code of Ethics is a good thing. Utilizing gender neutral language throughout the Charter and changing references to the “Clerk of Council” to “City Clerk” is are good things — and they should come up in some future measure that isn’t so questionable. “Making other minor updates?” I learned never to trust that kind of language in my dealings with Anaheim.

Y – City of Westminster, No-Tax Increase Local Services Measure. YES! Vern’s friend/source from Westminster thinks that it’s this or bankruptcy — and bankruptcy is likely to be feeding day for vultures. This is a 20-year 1% sales tax and the first proponent is from the Police Association; Diana Carey is one of the four others. (Of course our local anti-tax commenters will be anti-tax, wanting to see the police and others suffer for having high pensions. I get it. But I think that it’s the people who will get hurt, and Public Safety will get funded either way.)

Z – City of Yorba Linda, Housing Element Implementation General Plan Amendments and Rezoning IT’S COMPLICATED!

Hi, both of Yorba Lindans who are reading this! Open the link in a new tab and read the arguments. Proponents say that YL will be forced to approve this affordable housing — which they have struggled against for years — anyway, and that that forcing of their hand may occur in a way that harms their future ability to control zoning far beyond this. Opponents say that Yorba Linda will fight the state on the beaches — “wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” I think that the proponents are far more not nuts, and so they would normally get my nod, but the idea of a state takeover of Yorba Linda’s zoning altogether because of the City’s obstinance is not without appeal. So: if I were a resident of Yorba Linda, I would vote YES, but as a non-resident of my city’s neighbor to the southeast I’m sort of interested is seeing how this catastrophe plays out. Beyond that, you Yorba Linda readers are on you your own, and good luck!


Proposition 1: YES!

Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.  (PDF)

While federal law clearly has supremacy over state law due to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, some argument exists as to whether a simple federal statue (as opposed to the amended federal Constitution) has supremacy over a provision of a state constitution. This proposal will place reproductive freedom into the California constitution itself, to give the state a better chance at going its own way even if a unified Republican Congress and President pass a law declaring a 6-week-old fetus to be an 18-year-old adult — and we are also, as usual, leading the way for other states to follow our examples. I believe that this needs a supermajority to pass, so get out there and vote yes!

Proposition 26: NO

Allows In-Person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. (PDF)

The argument that Prop 27 sends money out of the state, while Prop 26 keeps it in the state, makes me want to scream. Technically, it’s true: the money earned by the wealthiest Indian tribes behind Morongo, Pechanga , and the like will remain within our state boundaries. BUT IT IS NON-TAXABLE FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON THE RESERVATION! And while we have a hellish history of our treatment of Native Americans, some of them — with the casino franchises — are doing really well and the communities they have are highly prosperous. My sympathies are for the tribes who — largely due to their location further from major population centers — cannot take advantage of this proposed law. This is literally about helping the rich get richer.

The other problem is that, if you look at the statute, it aims to put the main competitors to the large tribal casinos — the cardrooms — out of business. Not only does it allow the large casinos to introduce table games, but it also offers a private right of action for people to sue cardrooms for any alleged misbehavior — while the casinos are insulated from that. This is just an ugly, anti-competitive, ripoff — and frankly it hurts people closer to our area — City of Industry, Hawaiian Gardens more than it helps others.

Finally — the relationship between the tribes and the state is supposed to be negotiated through a tribal compact. If this was going to give a good measure of tax dollars to the state — in exchange for keeping certain remote forms of gambling hobbled or illegal — then I’d be more likely to support it. But a compact would involve experts negotiating with other experts — not trying to gain advantages with a huge PR blitz. I’ll add this to the pile of topics I might write about by Election Day, time permitting.

Proposition 27: NO [had been Yes, but I’m fed up] [

Allows Online and Mobile Sports Wagering Outside Tribal Lands. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. (PDF)

To hell with it. No on BOTH of these! ORIGINAL TEXT: I don’t know that I favor this — but I do know that I want it to get more votes than Prop 26, so that the Prop 26 supporters will think twice before doing this again. (And I don’t think that this will pass, by the way. A Constitutional amendment needs a supermajority — and Prop 26 folks are shooting this down.) The libertarian argument that this activity is happening illegally anyway, profiting organizing crime, has some merit — but it’s pretty clear that we’re not there yet. Other states are taking the lead on this and we’ll profit from reviewing their success.

Proposition 28: YES

Provides Additional Funding for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools. Initiative Statute. (PDF)

It’s sad that this needs to be done through an initiative, but — this needs to be done through an initiative. Do you want kids to want to come to school, and want to perform well on exams so that they can do extracurricular activities? Well, that is part of what this buys you.

Proposition 29: YES

Requires On-Site Licensed Medical Professional at Kidney Dialysis Clinics and Establishes Other State Requirements. Initiative Statute. (PDF)

I don’t know whether it’s necessary to have a medical professional on site for medical reasons — but I do know that it would be good to have some one on site who is responsible for health care outcomes rather than profits and would be a mandatory reporter about rules violations affecting health. So I’m for this!

Proposition 30: YES

Provides Funding for Programs to Reduce Air Pollution and Prevent Wildfires by Increasing Tax on Personal Income Over $2 Million. Initiative Statute. (PDF)

Are we for reducing air pollution and preventing wildfires, or against it? We’re for it — and the most fortunate among us have to provide a disproportionate share of the help.

Proposition 31: YES, meaning: YES, WE WANT TO KEEP THIS LAW!

Referendum On 2020 Law That Would Prohibit the Retail Sale of Certain Flavored Tobacco Products. (PDF)

When I went over the ballot with my father this past weekend, he had a piquant response to the sorts of people who sweeten up smoking products in order to attract young customers: “FUCK ‘EM!” So we’ll leave on that note.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr 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.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)