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Local officials eye Michelle Steel’s seat on Orange County Board of Supervisors

Mayor Mike Posey, right
Mayor Mike Posey asks the public for order during public comments regarding Senate Bill 54, or the California Sanctuary State Bill, at Huntington Beach City Hall in April 2018. Posey is among officials who have expressed interest in running for the Orange County Board of Supervisors left vacant by the election of Michelle Steel to the U.S. House of Representatives.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer )

As Orange County’s Nov. 3 general election ends, another one is brewing to take place early next year for an open seat on the county Board of Supervisors.

Earlier this month, the five-member panel’s Republican chairwoman, Michelle Steel of Surfside, defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) in the race for the 48th Congressional District.

Steel’s win has left her 2nd District seat up for grabs in a special election that could take place around March. The winner would represent a wide swath of coastal Orange County, including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley.

So far, at least two people have publicly confirmed their candidacies: state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Huntington Beach Councilman Mike Posey.

California state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)
California state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) will speak Thursday at a Speak Up Newport discussion at the Oasis Senior Center.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

Moorlach is a former supervisor who served the 2nd District from 2006 to 2015. In 2016, he successfully ran in a special election for the 37th state Senate seat but recently lost his reelection bid to Democrat Dave Min, a UC Irvine law professor.

In an interview Friday, Moorlach pointed to his broad financial and political experience — including 12 years as the county’s treasurer-tax collector — as qualifications to again serve in the supervisor seat. He is also a certified public accountant and famously predicted Orange County’s bankruptcy in 1994.

“You’ve got someone who’s got a credible record of dealing with municipal finance,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach said he was convinced to run after supporters called and urged him.

“When that got to be a rather strong chorus, then I had a long chat with Mrs. Moorlach,” he said. “Going through campaigns is not for the faint of heart. We just did a lot of talking and discussing, and when the calls kept going, she gave me the green light.”

Moorlach said a key part of his campaign will be about addressing homelessness and mental health.

“Having someone with Sacramento relationships should help, and someone who knows the homelessness in Orange County. That’s an asset I bring,” he said, adding, “As a county, we have been lacking in trying to address that need. Many homeless are suffering from mental illness. We’ve got to figure out how to help these individuals.”

Moorlach has received endorsements from New Majority, the Lincoln Club of Orange County and Family Action PAC.

Posey was first elected to the Huntington Beach City Council in 2014. He won reelection in 2018 for a term that lasts through 2022. In 2019, he first announced his intent to run for the 2nd District, although it was for 2022, when Steel would’ve been termed out had she not won her congressional bid.

Posey, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, told the Voice of OC earlier this month he thinks he has a shot for the seat because of his support from Republican and independent voters. He pointed to its 2018 council reelection as proof.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley may run for the Orange County Board of Supervisors seat left vacant by Michelle Steel’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
(File Photo)

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, a Democrat who handily surpassed her competitors in her reelection bid this month, has also expressed interest in the position and is reportedly exploring a run.

Foley did not respond to requests for comment, but told Voice of OC earlier this month that, “I’m just appreciative of all the support and kind of humbled by the outpouring of people calling and texting and asking me to run. But that’s a lot to think about. All of this is unexpected.”

Foley, an attorney by trade, has also served as a trustee on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

According to Voice of OC, others have also been talked about as candidates but haven’t made formal announcements: Huntington Beach Councilwoman Kim Carr; Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon, who recently lost her bid for the 74th state Assembly seat; Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon, who is reportedly fundraising; former state Assemblyman and county GOP Chairman Scott Baugh; Huntington Beach Councilman Erik Peterson, who has opened a fundraising committee; and former Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who recently won her bid for the 72nd state Assembly seat.

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill was also mentioned but confirmed to the Daily Pilot on Friday that he is not planning to run.

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