Voters Weigh In on Orange County Supervisor Election

March 9, 2021 Updated: March 9, 2021

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.—On March 9, residents of Orange County, California, will vote to fill the Board of Supervisors seat vacated in District 2 when Michelle Steel left for Congress. The election is to be certified by April 8.

The Epoch Times spoke with voters in the district ahead of election night to see how they would vote and why. Most declined to comment or said they didn’t know much about the election. Those who did comment identified homelessness as one of their top priorities for the new supervisor to tackle—though they placed their hopes in different candidates for addressing that problem.

The candidates included 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.

A Vote for Moorlach

Robert Smythe of Huntington Beach said Moorlach was his pick. He hoped Moorlach could “enforce vagrancy laws” to reduce homelessness at the beach.

“I understand people are homeless for various reasons, where there’s mental health, drug addiction, whatever that might be,” Smythe said. “[But] the trash they leave down here, the dangerous conditions they present down here, theft that occurs down here, harassing the tourists, that sort of thing … all of that affects all of us.”

Epoch Times Photo
Robert Smythe says he voted for John Moorlach in the Board of Supervisors race in Huntington Beach, California, on March 5, 2021. (Jack Bradley/The Epoch Times)

Smythe said Moorlach is the most “fiscally responsible” candidate and proved his worth when he served as a supervisor before. “He really assisted the county when they went bankrupt around 1995. There’s no more fiscally responsible person than him.”

Lou Calangelo told The Epoch Times via a Huntington Beach community Facebook group that he is voting for Moorlach because “I feel he has proven himself, is fiscally responsible, and will be an asset.”

Moorlach told The Epoch Times that, if elected, he plans to work with various nonprofits in the county on the homelessness problem. Through legislation he co-authored, he helped establish the Orange County Housing Finance Trust, which funds housing for the homeless and people at risk of becoming homeless.

“I would like to pick up where I left off. I will bring my state experience and work with Projects Homekey and Roomkey,” he said, referring to state projects that rented hotel rooms for homeless people at higher COVID-19 risk and then sought to establish more permanent housing for them.

Votes for Foley

Marilyn Palomino of Huntington Beach said she thinks Foley can handle the homeless situation well because Costa Mesa has improved in this regard during her time as mayor.

Palomino said the “Board of Supervisors have more power than people really know, and they’re not using the funds that they get adequately.” She thinks Foley will help direct the funds more effectively to address homelessness.

Palomino also hopes Foley will help the county through the pandemic and make the environment a priority.

“She’s a really smart woman, and I like her perspective on the environment and other issues,” Palomino said.

Foley could not be reached for comment in the weeks leading up to the election. She did highlight on her website, however, her work to connect homeless people with many services in Costa Mesa and her establishment of a model that has been replicated in Newport Beach.

“The secure, reservation-only operation at the temporary and long-term sites prevents loitering,” she said, highlighting one of the beneficial aspects of Costa Mesa’s approach.

Bob McCann voted for Foley because “she’s been the mayor of Costa Mesa for a long time, and I think she’s done a pretty good job there.”

Most important to McCann was how the candidates would handle the pandemic. “I know she has done a very good job as far as the mask is concerned in Costa Mesa,” McCann said.

“If we want to get a hold of this pandemic, we really have to focus on this. This virus is airborne. Anything we can do to protect ourselves and protect our neighbors from this virus, I’m all in.”

On top of addressing the pandemic, McCann also said he wants to see Foley “clean up the city.”

“Especially down in Bolsa Chica [State Beach]. There is a lot of trash down there … It’s just getting out of control,” McCann said.

A Vote for Rappaport

Karen, who declined to give her last name, voted for Rappaport because she is a new face with a professional background.

“It should be Rappaport—somebody who hasn’t been in office before, somebody fresh and new but still with a solid background,” she said.

Karen also highlighted homelessness as an issue of concern. “I think that [homeless] people need to be put in programs and in a facility. If they want to choose to keep doing drugs instead of going in the program, then they need a bus ticket someplace else.”

Rappaport told The Epoch Times, “We must not look at outdated solutions. My approach is not simply about a capital investment.” She plans to look at updated information about homeless needs and help the county coordinate cities and community groups addressing the issue.

Muldoon told The Epoch Times, “We need to deal with the core issue of substance abuse and mental health that affect a large portion of the homeless population … [to find] long-term solutions.”

Vo told The Epoch Times the county should provide “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.”