Democrat Wins Special Election for Orange County Board of Supervisors

March 10, 2021 Updated: March 10, 2021

SANTA ANA—Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley March 10 will begin preparing to take the Second District seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors after winning a special election to fill vacancy caused by Michelle Steel’s election to the House of Representatives.

Foley received 44.28 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan five-candidate race March 9, according to unofficial results released by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Former state Sen. and Supervisor John Moorlach was second with 30.98 percent.

“I’m humbled by the support we received tonight and grateful for the confidence voters have placed in me,” Foley said. “The challenges we face are serious, but I know that they are no match for the strength and resiliency of Orange County’s residents.

“There is much work to be done as it relates to speeding up the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, helping local businesses recover, making county government more transparent, and protecting the things that make Orange County such a special place to live. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon was third 11.24 percent, followed by Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo, fourth with 9.03 percent. Tax attorney Janet Rappaport, a Democrat, was fifth with 4.46 percent.

Unlike regular multi-candidate elections for the Board of Supervisors, where a majority is required to be elected, the candidate finishing first March 9 was assured of a seat on the board regardless of his or her percentage of the vote.

Turnout was 24.3 percent. There are 7,802 ballots left to be counted, Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said. Foley leads Moorlach by 12,719 votes.

In a district where Republicans have a 38 percent to 33.2 percent registration lead, party leaders had been worried that with three Republicans in the race, Foley could prevail.

During her campaign, Foley promised that if elected, her priorities as supervisor would be: COVID-19 relief and expanding affordable health care, homelessness and affordable housing, protecting the environment, education and job training and more. She also campaigned on equality and justice, and securing safe communities.

The victory makes Foley the first Democrat to represent the district since 1894 and the first female Democrat. The district consists of 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.

She will be the second Democrat on the current board, joining Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee.

Foley’s term will run until November 2022.

The loss was Moorlach’s second in five months. He lost a bid for a second full term in the state Senate in November, losing to Democrat Dave Min, 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Foley had also sought the 37th Senate District seat, but finished last in the three-candidate field in the March primary.