Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley looks poised to become the first Democrat in more than a century, and the first Democratic woman, to hold the Second District Orange County Board of Supervisors seat, based on early returns in a Tuesday, March 9, special election.
The first batch of election night returns – including more than 90,000 mail ballots – showed Foley leading the pack of of five candidates, which included former supervisor and state senator John Moorlach, Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon, Corona del Mar attorney Janet Rappaport and Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo.
Several thousand in-person votes weren’t included in early results and small number of mail ballots that arrived after 4 p.m. Tuesday remain to be counted, OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said.
The outstanding votes don’t look to be enough for second-place Moorlach, or any other candidate, to overcome Foley’s lead. Assuming those results hold, Foley would fill the supervisor seat until late 2022 – the rest of the term Michelle Steel left when she was seated in Congress in January.
Some observers saw the race mainly as a contest between the Republican Moorlach, a long-serving and well-known OC political figure whose penchant for pension reform earned the ire of county employee unions, and Foley, a Democrat and attorney who has served on the Costa Mesa City Council and Newport-Mesa school board and has been critical of the county’s pandemic response.
Though the GOP has a nearly five-point registration advantage in the district, OC party officials were so worried about splitting the vote and opening the way for a Democrat that once the ballot was set, they sent out an email chastising two of their own for running.
OC Democrats, meanwhile, pinned their hopes on Foley to be the first of their party to represent the second district since 1894 and to shift the board from a 4-1 to a 3-2 party split.
District 2 includes Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor, and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley.
The five-member Board of Supervisors oversees a more than $7 billion budget, which in 2020 included more than $554 million in federal pandemic aid funds.
The county’s Health Care Agency has led the local public health response to COVID-19, its social services workers help thousands obtain benefits such as food and housing assistance, it manages 60,000 acres of public open space, and supervisors represent the county and its residents on regional boards and agencies such as the Orange County Transportation Authority.
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