Andrew Do is ready to enter a new term on the Board of Supervisors in Orange County, California. He is ahead of his opponent, Sergio Contreras, with 51.8 percent of the vote.
With his current term as supervisor coming to a close, he said he's looking forward to carrying through with the board many of the important initiatives they already started.
“We started on a lot of initiatives in the county that addressed many longstanding problems that we faced. The next term will be used to finish a lot of that,” Do told The Epoch Times.
He listed the top longstanding problem as homelessness. Mental illness is a related problem that's huge, he said. That one also relates to jail inmates and priority of his is to help rehabilitate those inmates.
“With the state’s focus on rehabilitating people and also minimizing the number of people in custody, getting inmates to be able to successfully re-enter society is an important part of our work while they are in custody as well,” he said.
InfrastructureA number of infrastructure projects will also be carried through, he said, including widening Interstate 405, widening State Route 55, and the OC Streetcar light rail line being built through Santa Ana and Garden Grove.
The massive Orange County Civic Center project is also a centerpiece of development, as much for its scale and price tag as its symbolic meaning.
Costing hundreds of millions, the overhaul of the aged Civic Center complex in downtown Santa Ana symbolizes something of a revival in the county after its bankruptcy in the 1990s.
The project was unveiled in 2016, just ahead of the county’s last bankruptcy debt payment. “We are remaking the face of county government,” Do told the Orange County Register at the time.
COVIDOf course, continuing to handle COVID-19 will be a big issue, as it was for the end of Do’s current term.
Do said he recommends employers allow people to work from home as much as possible. He encourages air flow in all places of business or public places.
“To the degree that people have to be indoors, I would recommend keeping the windows open. … I think that anytime you get air to flow and wash out the air that people exhale, the less you're able you have the mist that may fly around in the air that may infect other people.”
“For restaurants, I would recommend installing the portable air filters,” he said.
He thinks that once COVID passes, Orange County will have a brighter outlook than many other counties, because it has a technologically savvy workforce.
The new norm will be telecommuting, he said, and you have to have a tech savvy population to succeed with that.
“When you … compare Orange County with any other county in Southern California, we would say that Orange County probably fits that bill a lot better than other counties,” he said. “And so for that reason, I see the economic future of Orange County as being very bright. Because the new work flexibility, post-COVID, will play more to our strength than to other counties.”
Biggest Accomplishments as SupervisorReflecting on his last four years as a supervisor, he said he feels one of his biggest accomplishments was cleaning up homeless encampments around the county.
He gave the example of the large homeless encampment that was in place near the Civic Center in Santa Ana for more than 30 years. Do saw it often working as an attorney at the center, and he’s happy that sight is now gone.
Another major accomplishment Do is proud of is the creation of Be Well Orange County, which will help people with mental health and substance abuse problems.
Its 60,000-square-foot campus is being built in the City of Orange right now and set to open in January. The Board of Supervisors committed $16.6 million to the campus, along with other investors, with a total projected cost of $40 million.
“There’s no doubt that our state’s lack of mental health treatment facilities has exacerbated our state’s homeless crisis. This mental health facility is another important component in our effort to address homelessness,” Do said in a press release announcing the groundbreaking in October last year.
Do was reelected by voters on Nov. 3, and since he is the current vice chair of the board, he feels it's likely the board will elect him as chair. The board's current chair, Michelle Steel, recently won a Congressional seat. As Steel vacates a board seat, Do declined to comment on who might or who he thinks should fill it.
Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) told The Epoch Times he may try for the seat.
Do did say that it’s important for whomever fills the seat to be able to understand different perspectives.
“Our job at the end of the day … is governing a pretty large entity, the County of Orange—it is the sixth largest county in the U.S.—and we have many, many issues that we have to work with our stakeholders on,” he said.
Though candidates may campaign firmly on certain issues, he said, when it comes time to actually governing, “We have to understand the different perspectives and not just use our vote to make a statement ... or else we just have an impasse.”
Republicans are set to maintain a 4–1 advantage on the board. Do said that, while board seats are supposed to be non-partisan, everyone knows that supervisors are affiliated with one political party or another. He said that he still believes the Republican platform and governance gives Orange County the best chance of success.
Allegations and InvestigationsThe Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) recently dropped an investigation into alleged illegal transfers of funds to Do's recent campaign.
“I'm disappointed that they chose to hastily open an investigation, because the damage is done at that point,” Do said. With an investigation opened and announced so quickly “at the height of a campaign,” he said “it could be capitalized on politically” by his opponent.
He said it “makes you wonder” why there was a big rush to get the news out about the investigation into his campaign, yet an FPPC investigation into his opponent’s conduct was only announced after the election.
His opponent, Westminster City Councilmember Sergio Contreras, is under investigation for allegedly failing to disclose employment income and gifts. Contreras denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Voice of OC and suggested the complaint was politically motivated.
Do grew up in Garden Grove, where he and his family moved after they fled Vietnam following the Fall of Saigon, when he was 12.
He currently lives in Westminster with his wife, Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri T. Pham. They have two daughters.
He studied at the University of California–Davis and the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. He has served as a city council member in Garden Grove and as deputy district attorney of Orange County.
He serves District 1 as supervisor, including Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, Midway City, Santa Ana, and Westminster.