Conservative incumbents Tony Beall and Carol Gamble are holding their ground in a hotly contested, nine-candidate race for two at-large seats on the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council, based on the latest election results.
Beall is leading with more than 27 percent of the votes so far, followed by Gamble with almost 20 percent, according to unofficial results last updated Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Both candidates are longtime councilmembers who served multiple one-year terms as mayor and are endorsed by the Republican Party of Orange County.
Fellow Republican Glenn Acosta trails in third place with just under 14 percent of votes, followed by endorsed Democrats Beth Schwartz at around 12 percent and John Christopoulos at about 9 percent. Candidates Julia Bendis, Chris McLaughlin, Wendy Braun, and Andrea Machuca are trailing, each with around 5 percent or less in the nine-person race.
City council races are officially nonpartisan, but many candidates in Rancho Santa Margarita declared their political affiliations through party endorsements.
During the campaign, Beall took a stand against Democratic candidates who bring national social justice issues and identity politics to city hall. His opponents countered the argument, and both sides accused each other of playing the nonpartisan card and showing their political stripes only when it was convenient or beneficial for their own campaigns.
Both council seats are for four-year terms.