Supervisor Candidates Share Approaches to Orange County’s Top Issues

March 8, 2021 Updated: March 9, 2021

Orange County’s next supervisor will be elected March 9, ending a hotly-contested campaign to fill the Board of Supervisors’ vacant District 2 seat.

Candidates include: former state senator John Moorlach, Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo, Newport Beach Councilmember Kevin Muldoon, and tax attorney Janet Rappaport.

As voters prepare to make their voices heard, The Epoch Times is recapping candidates’ views on a range of topics, including homelessness, crime, and the ongoing pandemic.

Foley could not be reached by The Epoch Times for comment.

On Homelessness

Moorlach: “I would like to pick up where I left off. I will bring my state experience and work with Projects Homekey and Roomkey. I will encourage the use of the Orange County Housing Finance Trust created by AB 448, legislation that I co-authored. I will also work with the Commission to End Homelessness, the county, the nonprofits, 2-1-1 and now CalOptima and Be Well/Mind OC, to address this crisis.”

Vo: “I believe there is a role for the county to play when it comes to homelessness. That role is providing a hand-up, not a hand-out. If we proactively work with municipalities, surrounding agencies, and non-profit organizations we should be able to assist those who want help with the resources they need—such as temporary housing, job placement, and navigation towards permanent housing. In our effort to reduce homelessness and help those in need, we cannot sacrifice safety.

“I am not supportive of permanent housing or encampments. The unfortunate fact is, many of those suffering from homelessness do not want to be helped—these individuals should be returned to their respective homes.

Muldoon: “We need to deal with the core issue of substance abuse and mental health that affect a large portion of the homeless population. By working with all stakeholders, including non-profits and mental health professionals, we must work to find practical solutions that not only provide temporary relief, but long term solutions.”

Rappaport: “The county has a role to play, providing coordination, communication and funding. We must not look at outdated solutions. My approach is not simply about a capital investment.

“We need to understand our homeless constituencies and different needs…With cities and community groups, updated information about today’s homeless will guide us to the needs and associated financial cost of helping each of these constituencies.”

On Infrastructure

Moorlach: “I believe the county and [Orange County Transportation Authority] have done a good job of focusing on lanes, versus trains. The Measure M sales tax has been allocated in a responsible manner. For the widening of the San Diego Freeway through the Second District, I would be opposed to converting current existing and added carpool lanes into toll or congestion pricing lanes.”

Vo: “First and foremost, we need to assess the county’s infrastructure. By doing so, we can properly identify the infrastructure that needs to be improved, which should be our primary focus before building new infrastructure. Once current infrastructure is improved, we should work with partner agencies to determine additional infrastructure that must be built out of necessity to improve traffic on Orange County’s roads.”

Muldoon: “Orange County has always been on the forefront of thoughtful infrastructure planning. I would seek to continue leading the way on delivering transportation infrastructure that works for our community.”

Rappaport: “On a local level and wherever we can, I would advocate carving out safe bikeways as people are moving more and more to bicycles, electric bicycles and trying to use this mode of transportation for commuting. Orange County is a dangerous proposition if you are a bicyclist of any kind, children, adults or visitors, all attracted to the nice weather and beautiful scenery of our county but very few safe places to ride.

“We should be looking at making all these changes now for the future so that we can emphasize our transportation friendly, tourist friendly, bike friendly environment in Orange County.”

On the Pandemic

Moorlach: “My number one priority will be responding to the COVID crisis by ensuring vaccines are available and distributed in a fair and fast process for all those who want and need them. I will also continue to fight to recover funding for the business community. As state senator, I helped provide $500 million from the state budget for COVID relief, and will continue to advocate for Orange County’s fair share.”

Vo: “As supervisor, one of my primary objectives will be to reopen our local economies and small businesses now—not tomorrow or when the state gives us permission—but now. I will also work with the [Orange County District] of Education to advocate for the immediate reopening of all Orange County schools. Our livelihoods and our children’s education depends on our actions. The best course of action we can take is to reopen and let our economy flourish once again.

“As one of the largest counties in America, we must do more to provide relief for struggling businesses and residents. I believe we have ample resources to do so in a financially conservative manner.”

Muldoon: “As a councilman I worked to help deliver over $2.1 million in COVID-19 grants to small businesses in our community. At the county level, I will continue to assist our businesses, including ensuring that the Orange County Health Care Agency works with businesses and relevant stakeholders to safely reopen our economy.”

Rappaport: “What is important for Orange County residents is ensuring that we have strong relationships with federal and state partners to be able to access all available funds to support our communities and economy while Orange County contends with controlling this virus, and mitigating the damage caused by this pandemic.

“Bickering between state, federal and local politicians has created gridlock and has cost the residents of Orange County. We need to focus on the residents who have lost jobs, struggling in their businesses, and going to bed hungry. The focus needs to be on getting support to those populations in need with every single federal or state dollar available to us.”

On Public Safety

Moorlach: “Public trust and respect for law enforcement is essential for us to be free and safe.

“I oppose defunding public safety. But, I am also cognizant of the fact that increasing defined benefit pension plan contributions are crowding out services. Consequently, this may mean reductions in staffing. I will do my best to ensure the sheriff’s department is properly funded with the equipment, tools and training needed to perform its duties.”

Vo: “I am a strong supporter of robust public safety and law enforcement. As mayor of Fountain Valley, I ensured our public safety efforts were always fully funded. I even added 13 police officers and 2 firefighters to improve public safety. As calls to defund our police continue, I will stand strong in my defense of law enforcement. My number one priority is the safety of our communities. In order to improve public safety, I will listen to the expertise of the Sheriff and Fire Chief and ensure the Departments are fully funded. I will also fight against the unlawful release of felons into our community, prevent high density housing in neighborhoods, and advocate for strong restrictions against sober living homes in neighborhoods.”

Muldoon: “I have a record of supporting law enforcement.  We must fully fund public safety and ensure that law enforcement personnel have the equipment and training they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

Rappaport: “The sounty should focus on programs that work with a view to expanding these programs and concepts to other aspects of our juvenile population (and possibly adult) to prevent a pathway to the criminal system.

“The juvenile detention alternative intervention program has successfully moved juveniles with drug or mental from the criminal detention system and into supported programs in education. This program, in place for approximately 10 years, appears to be successful in saving young people from a criminal pathway as well as saving the County money.

“Looking at programs focused on intervention and preventing adults from ending up in the criminal systems, it might be possible to increase those successes and serve a wider population with additional funding from the County. The Collaborative Courts (established by the Superior Court) aided by the Collaborative Court Foundation is an example of an existing community organization with a record of success in moving populations with mental health and other issues away from the criminal system.

“Prison populations needing support services (mental health, alcohol abuse) might be directed into Collaborative Courts Foundation type programs or others which have the possibility of redirecting person’s pathway from criminal activity. If we keep persons with noncriminal issues away from prison, there is a higher likelihood that they will not pursue a criminal path in the future.”

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