New City Council Members Have Wide-Ranging Goals in Orange County

November 8, 2020 Updated: November 8, 2020

Winners in local city council and mayoral races throughout Orange County, California, have begun to take shape as the votes continued to be tallied following the Nov. 3 general election.

Some of the winning candidates spoke to The Epoch Times about the goals they hope to achieve in their new positions.

Epoch Times Photo
Avelino Valencia is leading in his race for a seat on the city council in Anaheim, Calif., following the November 2020 election. (Courtesy of Avelino Valencia)

Anaheim

In Anaheim’s race for City Council, Avelino Valencia is poised to take the District 4 seat with nearly 51 percent of the vote. Annemarie Randle-Trejo trails far behind in second place, with 22.5 percent, followed by Jeanine Robbins with 21.7 percent, to replace current Councilmember Lucille Kring.

“There are still ballots to be counted, however, the results as of today are looking strong for our campaign,” Valencia told The Epoch Times. “We are grateful for the support we have received from Anaheim, District 4 residents thus far.”

Valencia said that during his campaign, citizens voiced extreme concern about the local effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout my campaign outreach efforts, residents’ consistently communicated concerns regarding the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our community’s public health and economy,” he said in an email.

Valencia said he will prioritize the health of Anaheim’s citizens during his term.

“As a Councilmember, my responsibility will be to advocate for the priorities of our residents. Therefore, I will work towards establishing a City Public Health Commission,” he said.

“The purpose of the commission will be to improve our residents’ health, both in the short and long term, through education, resources, policy, and services. This will in turn allow us to re-energize our economy as safely and quickly as possible in order to mitigate the fiscal impacts we have experienced as individual residents and as a city.”

In other Anaheim City Council races, Jose Diaz has pulled into the lead for the District 1 seat against incumbent Denise Barnes, who was elected to the City Council in 2016. Diaz, a municipal water administrator who campaigned for greater cooperation with nonprofit organizations to help the city’s homeless, currently has over 42 percent of the vote. Barnes, who was elected to the council in 2016 and has emphasized providing greater support services to the homeless, has 38 percent.

In District 5, incumbent Councilman Steve Faessel is all but guaranteed to keep his seat after winning just over 53 percent of the vote against his top challenger, Sabrina Quezada, who received around 30 percent.

Epoch Times Photo
Mayor Katrina Foley of Costa Mesa, Calif., ran for office again on Nov. 3, 2020, against four competitors for the position. (Courtesy of Katrina Foley)

Costa Mesa

In the race for a City Council seat in Costa Mesa’s District 6, Jeffrey Harlan holds a solid lead. Harlan has received 47 percent of the total vote, compared to second-place candidate Jeff Pettis, who has 20.4 percent of the vote.

Harlan told The Epoch Times that he will concentrate on the economy and housing issues when he assumes his seat.

“We’re confident our solid lead will hold, and appreciate that the voters in District 6 value the experience, perspective, and judgment I will bring to the job,” Harlan said via email.

“As councilmember, my immediate priorities are to accelerate our economic recovery and protect our community’s health. During my term I will also focus on addressing our housing crisis; we’re starting the preparation this month of our Housing Element, which will be an important effort to plan for more housing opportunities and build on the City’s significant investments to manage homelessness.”

The issue of homelessness was mentioned frequently by candidates to The Epoch Times prior to the election as being of paramount importance in the city.

In other races for City Council, Don Harper is slightly leading incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem John Stevens, with 43.3 percent of the vote to 40.7 percent, in the District 1 race. Harper emphasized “compassionate code enforcement” in dealing with the city’s homeless population, while Stevens stressed greater outreach and a housing-first platform.

In District 2, Loren Gameros is leading with 49.4 percent of the vote, against Ben Chapman with 30.4 percent, and Gary Parkin with 20.2 percent.

In Costa Mesa’s mayoral race, incumbent Katrina Foley, who has been on the City Council for 12 years, is on her way to victory. She’s leading her nearest challenger, Sandra Genis, by over double, holding over 52 percent of the vote compared to Genis’s less than 23 percent.

Genis, a current City Council member, was mayor from 2017 to 2018. She ran on a platform to reduce deficit spending, saying the city was “running in the red for the past several years before the pandemic hit.”

Other candidates in the multi-person race included former U.S. Marine and businessman Quentin Pullen, with just over 10 percent of the vote; educator Wendy Leece, who was prompted to run because she wanted to stop divisive bickering by bridging “the partisan gap” and received 11.5 percent of the vote; and Al Melone, who received just over 3 percent of the vote for his candidacy dedicated to the pets of Costa Mesa.

Epoch Times Photo
Arianna Barrios is leading in the race for the District 1 city council seat in Orange, Calif., which was decided by voters on Nov. 3, 2020. (Courtesy of Eugene Fields)

The City of Orange

In the City of Orange, firefighter Jon Dumitru leads in the race for the District 2 seat with around 41.4 percent of the vote, compared to civil engineer Martin Varona’s 22.4 percent, Caroline Alatorre with just over 19 percent, and Daniel Correa with just under 17 percent.

“I am confident with the numbers, and I am honored and extremely humbled in the trust of the voters in the City of Orange District 2,” Dumitru told The Epoch Times.

Dumitru said he plans to “hit the ground running” as soon as he takes office. “With my previous service, there will be little to no down time,” he said in an email.

“I will be meeting with our Chamber of Commerce almost immediately to address all issues associated with our local businesses and regulations impacts from covid restrictions.

“I will also be meeting with our rank and file police and firefighters to get a ‘state of our public safety’ to ensure they have the tools to keep our city safe. This is a very small list of many things that I will charge forward and start working on.”

In other council races, Arianna Barrios, who stressed her experience on the boards of local organizations and in dealing with homelessness, has a solid lead with 40.7 percent of the vote in District 1. Her leading opponent, David Vasquez, has about 26 percent, followed by Eugene Fields, who campaigned on safety issues and proposed to add more police to the local force, with just over 18 percent.

In District 3, Mike Alvarez—currently the mayor pro tem of Costa Mesa—leads with almost 51 percent of the vote. In second place, businessman John Russo, who also works for the Orange Unified School District, has around 26.6 percent, followed by Danett Abbott-Wicker with 22.4 percent.

And in District 5, Ana Gutierrez, who told The Epoch Times in a statement that public safety and helping small businesses were among her top priorities, is clinging to a slight lead over Rick Ledesma, with 52.8 percent of the vote to 47.2 percent.

For the mayoral race in the City of Orange, incumbent Mark Murphy is holding steady, with over 59 percent of the total vote compared to challenger Adrienne Gladson’s nearly 41 percent.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis