Filing has closed for the North Orange County Community College District Special Election to fill the vacancy left when Area 3 Trustee Donna Miller (D) resigned on June 30 just seven months after being re-elected to a four-year term. Miller had been on the Board for nearly 19 years.
Four people took out papers to run for the seat, and all four returned them and qualified for the ballot. In alphabetical order, they are (with their party affiliation and ballot designation):
- Daniel D. Billings (NPP), Contract Manager
- Stephen T. Blount (R), Member, Cypress School District Board of Trustees
- Steve Hwangbo (R), Orange County Businessman/Councilmember
- Alan ‘Al’ Salehi (NPP), Trustee, Buena Park Library District
Exact ballot order will be determined by a lottery by the Secretary of State later this morning.
Daniel D. Billings
Married to a high school science teacher, Billings works for Southern California Edison. He was the appointee to the seat until Salehi overturned his appointment by petition. A graduate of Fullerton College, he earned degrees from Whittier College and Azusa Pacific University; he also obtained a certificate at UCI.
Billings does not list any endorsements but does note his unanimous appointment by the NOCCCD Board.
Stephen T. Blount
A member of the Cypress School Board since 2010, Blount is a corporate controller. He was a Democrat until 2014, when he reregistered as a Republican. He was the Democrats’ nominee for the 67th Assembly District against Assemblyman Jim Silva (R) in 2008. Holding a certificate from Cypress College, he earned degrees from Biola University and Azusa Pacific University.
He notes endorsements from Coast Community College District Trustee Jim Moreno (D) and Centralia School District Board President Steve Harris (NPP). Oddly, he also notes endorsements from several appointed staff: Cypress School District Superintendent. Normally, staff do not endorse in political races because of the neutral position their offices are supposed to hold.
Blount has endorsed Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva’s bid to unseat Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim.
A La Palma City Councilman since 2010, Hwangbo is a businessman and engineer. He was the top vote-getter in his 2014 re-election, coming in more than 13% ahead of the second vote-getter. A community college graduate, he earned a degree at UCLA before going on to USC.
A longtime Republican, he notes endorsements from Senator Bob Huff, Senator John Moorlach, Supervisor Shawn Nelson, and Supervisor Michelle Steel.
How This Special Election Got Started & Info on Alan ‘Al’ Salehi
NOCCCD Trustee Area 3 consists of the entire City of La Palma, most of the City of Buena Park, the City of Cypress north of Orange Avenue, and two portions of Anaheim (one north of Ball Road and west of Beach Boulevard; the other north of La Palma Avenue and west of Magnolia Avenue).
Five people applied to fill the vacancy in Trustee Area 3. In four rounds of voting on August 25:
- In the first round of voting, the trustees voted: 3 votes for George O’Hara (R), 2 votes for Daniel Billings (NPP), and 1 vote for Jon Hultman (R).
- In the second and third rounds, George O’Hara and Daniel Billings each got 3 votes.
- In the fourth round, the NOCCCD trustees voted to appoint Daniel Billings.
Billings was to hold the seat until November 2016, when the seat would be up for a two-year short-term election. The seat would then resume a regular four-year term in the November 2018 election.
However, Salehi, who the trustees did not support, then used Education Code 5091 and hired petition circulators to get signatures from 1.5% of registered voters within 30 days of the appointment, which invalidated the appointment (removing Billings from office) and triggered a special election. (1.5% of registered voters in NOCCCD Trustee Area 3 is 799 valid signatures.)
Salehi is a colorful figure:
- Last month, the Orange County Register reported that the Orange County Registrar of Voters successfully sued Salehi for $4,248 for not paying for his candidate statement in 2014.
- The Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reported that Salehi pulled papers for Laguna Beach City Council and Laguna Beach Unified School District in 2010, but on the last day of filing, he registered to vote in Buena Park and filed to run for the Buena Park Library District, where he realized he would be unopposed, as the second candidate to file for two seats.
- Salehi has made no fewer than 8 unsuccessful bids for elected office:
- 1996: Laguna Beach Unified School District (winning 11% and coming in last)
- 1998: Laguna Beach Unified School District (winning 5.7% and coming in sixth out of seven)
- 2000: Laguna Beach Unified School District (winning 6.5% and coming in last)
- 2004: Irvine Unified School District (winning 4.8% of the vote and coming in seventh out of eight)
- 2010: United States Senate (winning 27% of the American Independent Party vote and coming in last in the AIP primary)
- 2012: Buena Park City Council (winning 9.5% of the vote and coming in fourth out of eight)
- 2014: United States Congress, 45th District (winning 2.6% of the vote and coming in last)
- 2014: Buena Park City Council (winning 12.1% of the vote and coming in fourth out of eight)