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Termed Out City Councilmembers Eyeing School and Water Boards

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 30, 2014

In the era of term limits, many City Councilmembers run for higher office while others seek to extend their political lives by running for lower office.  As we peer into candidate filing, there are at least three City Councilmembers are exercising the option to do the latter.

La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen, and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle

La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen, and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle

  • La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen has pulled (and filed) papers for the Centralia School District
  • Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen has pulled papers for Orange County Water District, Division 1
  • Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle has pulled papers for Orange County Water District, Division 5

Charoen and the Centralia School District

Charoen (R) is prepared for this campaign for Centralia School District, transferring nearly $30,000 into his school board account from his Assembly account after he opted not to seek the AD-65 seat.  $30,000 pays for a lot of voter contact in a district as tiny as Centralia, plus he has significant name ID in the La Palma portion of Centralia.  He also teaches at UCI.  At this point, Charoen is the only one who has actually filed.

Incumbent Lisa Jordan (R) has pulled papers, as has appointed incumbent Kevin Sequeira (R).  73-year-old incumbent Irv Trinkle (R) has not pulled papers, and I’ve heard conflicting rumors about him, with some saying he’s retiring and others saying he’s running for re-election (Trinkle’s campaign web site was last updated in the spring).

Former Centralia Board Member Art Montez (D) pulled papers for both Centralia and the Buena Park Library District.  Jordan beat Montez by 64 votes in 2010 when Montez was an incumbent.  Montez lost by 5% in 2012 in an unsuccessful bid to return to the Board.  If Montez files and loses for a third consecutive time, he risks going from former Board member to perennial Board candidate.  He has to either sit this one out or win his old seat back in order to avoid that fate.  He probably shouldn’t file for both the Centralia School District and the Buena Park Library District, lest he suffer the fate of former Water Board Director Douglas Chapman, who lost both races when he ran for two seats in 2012.

Though an experienced field of elected officials have pulled papers in Centralia, the first person who pulled papers was 20-year-old Chapman University student Connor Traut (D) who moved to Anaheim a few months ago from Ladera Ranch, where he was a member of the Ladera Ranch Civic Council.  Traut is an acolyte of Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman (D).  (Brandman allies seem to be popping up in different Anaheim school board seats, as D.R. Heywood (D) has pulled papers in the Anaheim City School District.)

Nguyen and Orange County Water District Division 1

Nguyen (R) appears to be unopposed for the Division 1 seat in the Orange County Water District.

In total, the OCWD Board has ten members: seven directly-elected and three appointed by City Councils (Anaheim, Fullerton, and Santa Ana). Incumbent Kay Barr is the only directly-elected Democrat on the OCWD Board.  The other six directly-elected members are Republicans.  Of the three appointed positions, Anaheim appointed Harry Sidhu (R), Fullerton appointed Jan Flory (D), and Santa Ana appointed Vincent Sarmiento (D).

Barr is retiring, and Nguyen is the only candidate who has pulled papers.  Dina Nguyen made an ill-fated bid for Orange County Supervisor against Janet Nguyen (R) in 2008.  Barr and both Nguyens served on the Garden Grove City Council: Barr from 1962-1970 and 1974-1978, Janet Nguyen from 2004-2007, and Dina Nguyen from 2006-present.  Barr has been an OCWD Board Member since 1979.  At 35 years, Barr’s exit ends the longest tenure by a single person in the 81-year history of OCWD.

(For the record, I am not related to either Dina Nguyen or Janet Nguyen.  The last name Nguyen is held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)

Daigle and Orange County Water District Division 5

Daigle (R) is challenging incumbent Orange County Water Board Member Steve Sheldon (R).  Sheldon was appointed to the OCWD Board in 2005 and won 71% of the vote in his 2006 bid for a full term against termed out Newport Beach City Councilman Tod Ridgeway (R).  Presumably, Daigle does not plan to suffer the same fate as Ridgeway.  She does have significantly higher name ID than Ridgeway did thanks in part to her ill-fated run for AD-74 when she challenged Allan Mansoor in 2012.  She fared slightly better in OCWD Division 5 than in the rest of the district, winning 25.3% of the vote (as opposed to her districtwide total of 23.8%).

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