OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

OC’s Five Vacant Seats

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 8, 2019

As a result of the November 2018 elections, there are currently five vacant seats in Orange County.  Here’s a quick run-down on the five vacancies:

  • OC Supervisor, Third District
  • Fullerton City Council
  • Orange City Council
  • Seal Beach City Council, District 1*
  • Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education

*Seal Beach is not actually a vacancy, but there is an election this month (see below)

OC Supervisor, Third District – March 12 Special Election

The highest profile vacancy in Orange County is indisputably the Third District seat on the Board of Supervisors, which Todd Spitzer vacated when he was sworn in as District Attorney yesterday.  The special election has been called for March 12, with candidate filing closing on January 28.  There is no run-off, so whoever wins the plurality of the vote in this election will be Third District Supervisor through the remainder of Spitzer’s unexpired term that lasts until January 2021.  The seat would be up for election again in 2020 for a full four-year term lasting from January 2021-January 2025.  Since the new Supervisor would be filling less than half of Spitzer’s unexpired term, that person could hold the seat for nearly ten years before finally being term limited in the 2028 election.

Declared candidates so far are Irvine Mayor Don Wagner (R), former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D), and former Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray (R).  Between his Assembly and Mayoral tenures, Wagner has represented 85% of the Third Supervisorial District’s registered voters, the entire district outside of Yorba Linda.  In Congress, Sanchez represented 12% of the Third Supervisorial District.  On the City Council, Murray represented 12% of the Third Supervisorial District.

Wagner was last on the Assembly ballot in 2014, but he has since been on the Mayoral ballot in both 2016 and 2018 in the 37% of the Third District that is the City of Irvine.  Sanchez was last on the ballot for the House of Representatives in 2014, though she did have an ill-fated run for US Senate in 2016, which of course included 100% of the district since it was a statewide race.  Murray was last on the City Council ballot in 2014.

Here are the latest campaign finance numbers for each of the three:

  • Wagner had $35,868 in his Mayoral campaign account as of the October 20 campaign finance report filed with the Irvine City Clerk.  What isn’t shown is how much of this he spent between October 20 and November 6 since he was in a campaign for re-election as Mayor, as that campaign finance report is not due until the end of January.
  • Sanchez had $18,384 in her Congressional campaign account and $18,344 in her US Senate campaign account, as of the September 30 campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
  • Murray had $316 in her City Council campaign account as of the June 30 campaign finance report filed with the Anaheim City Clerk.  She had $886 in her Supervisorial campaign account as of the June 30 campaign finance report filed with the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Wagner and Sanchez’s state campaign accounts have all long been closed.  Neither of their Supervisorial campaign accounts have been open long enough to file campaign finance reports.

Wagner and Murray have each issued December press releases declaring that they have more than $100,000 in their Supervisorial campaign finance accounts.  The next campaign finance reports are due later this month.

Fullerton City Council

In Fullerton, an at-large Council seat was vacated when Jesus Silva (D) was sworn in to the Council seat for District 3 on December 4.  The City Council may either fill the seat by appointment or special election.  It requires 3 votes of the 4 remaining members of the Council to act.  Whether elected or appointed, this person would fill the at-large Council seat for the remainder of Silva’s unexpired term through 2020.  The at-large Council seat will no longer exist after 2020, as it will be replaced by a District Council seat.

At their December 18 meeting, the Council deadlocked 2-2 on whether to make an appointment or hold a special election.  Mayor Silva (D) and Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Fitzgerald (R) voted to make an appointment while Councilmen Bruce Whitaker (R) and Ahmad Zahra (D) voted for a special election.  They will consider the issue again on January 15.  Even if the Council does opt to make an appointment, they must reach 3 votes on who the appointee is in order to actually do so.  If the Council fails to make an appointment by February 2 (sixty days after the initial vacancy), then it automatically goes to a special election.

Regardless of whether the City Council actively chose to call a special election or simply failed to make an appointment by February 2, a special election would take place on either August 27, 2019 or November 5, 2019, under the statutory dates available to Fullerton.

Orange City Council

In Orange, a City Council seat was vacated when Councilman Mark A. Murphy (R) was sworn in as Mayor on December 11.  As in Fullerton, the Orange City Council may either fill the seat by appointment or special election, and it requires 3 votes of the 4 remaining members on the Council to act.  Whether elected or appointed, this person would fill the Council seat through the remainder of Murphy’s unexpired term through 2020, at which point the Councilmember would be up for election for a full four-year term.

City staff in Orange proactively solicited applications for the vacancy, and 10 people have submitted them.  The application process is not mandatory, and the City Council is not limited to considering those 10 applicants nor is it limited to an appointment.

At its meeting this evening, the Orange City Council will consider whether to make an appointment or hold a special election.  Even if the Council does opt to make an appointment, they must reach 3 votes on who the appointee is in order to actually do so.  If the Council fails to make an appointment by February 9 (sixty days after the initial vacancy), then it automatically goes to a special election.

Regardless of whether the City Council actively chose to call a special election or simply failed to make an appointment by February 9, a special election would take place on November 5, 2019, the only statutory date available to Orange.

Seal Beach City Council, District 1 – January 29 Run-Off Election

In Seal Beach, there isn’t actually a vacancy, but rather, the Seal Beach City Charter requires a January run-off when no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the prior November election.

There is January 29 run-off election between Small Businessman Peter Amundson (R) and Retired Business Owner Joe Kalmick (D) for the District 1 Council seat.  District 1 Councilwoman Ellery Deaton (R) continues in office until the run-off election is certified.  Eight years ago when Deaton was first elected, she too had to go to a run-off election—against none other than Kalmick.

Republicans have a 7% registration advantage in Seal Beach District 1.  The Registrar of Voters began sending out ballots for this election on New Year’s Eve, so ballots started arriving in voters’ mailboxes on January 2.

Santa Ana Unified School District

The lone Republican on the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education, Ceci Iglesias (R), was elected to be the lone Republican on the Santa Ana City Council when she won the District 6 seat, to which she was sworn in on December 11.

At its December 11 meeting, the Santa Ana School Board directed their staff to open an application process to enable the School Board to fill the seat by appointment.  The School Board will meet this evening to conduct the first round of applicant interviews.  They plan to meet again on January 15 to interview the finalists and make the appointment.  They must reach 3 votes on one of the applicants to actually make the appointment.

If the School Board fails to make an appointment by February 9 (sixty days after the initial vacancy), then it automatically goes to a special election.

With a School Board appointment, unlike a City Council appointment, a petition of 1.5% of the registered voters of the school district can overturn the appointment and force a special election.  The petition must be submitted within 30 days of the appointment.  In this case, if anyone objects to the person appointed on January 15, they have until February 14 to submit a petition of 1,223 registered voters in the Santa Ana Unified School District to overturn the appointment and force a special election.  If this were to occur, the appointee would vacate the seat upon certification of the petition, and that person would not be entitled to incumbent status on the special election ballot.

One Response to “OC’s Five Vacant Seats”

  1. […] January, I wrote about OC’s Five Vacant Seats: OC Supervisor for the Third District, Fullerton City Council, Orange City Council, Seal Beach City […]

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