How did Costa Mesans vote on Nov. 3? Orange County registrar results show 87.8% of all voters cast ballots

Voters at Costa Mesa City Hall on Election Day on Nov. 3.
Voters make their way to the Costa Mesa City Hall voting center to cast their ballots on Nov. 3.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Figures showing how Costa Mesa residents voted in the Nov. 3 election have been released by the Orange County Registrar of Voters — which tabulated 54,122 ballots cast in person, by mail and during early voting, representing 87.8% of all registered voters.

This year’s election also saw a high turnout in the county overall, with 87.3% of all registered voters casting ballots, a 25% increase over turnout in the 2016 presidential election and 36% increase over 2012, county officials reported.

Costa Mesa voters overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates in national and state races, figures indicate.

In the presidential race, Joe Biden received 7,748 more Costa Mesa votes than Donald Trump, with 29,804 local ballots cast in his favor, compared to the president’s 22,056. The trend followed county patterns, which showed 814,009 votes cast in Biden’s favor to Trump’s 676,498.

In a reorganization meeting Tuesday, Costa Mesa city officials recognized the service of outgoing council members before swearing in three new members. Katrina Foley, the top mayoral vote getter, retained her seat.

County voters and Costa Mesans parted ways, however, in the race for the 48th Congressional District, which pitted Orange County Supervisor Chairwoman Michelle Steel against Democrat incumbent Harley Rouda, according to a statement of votes cast released Nov. 25 by the registrar.

Steel ultimately walked away with 51% of the vote over Rouda’s 48.94%. But Costa Mesa voters picked the incumbent over the challenger, casting 29,137 ballots for Rouda and 23,364 for Steel.

Felipe Garcia, 37, places his "I Voted" sticker on his hand after voting in his first election on Tuesday, November 3.
Felipe Garcia, 37, placed his “I Voted” sticker on his left hand after voting in his first election on Nov. 3.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa also leaned Democratic in the race for California’s 37th Senate District — where challenger Dave Min beat out Republican incumbent John Moorloch by a margin of 2,874 local votes — and in the state’s 74th Assembly District, where Democrat incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris earned 3,252 more votes than challenger Diane Dixon.

In the race to determine the fate of Measure Q, a ballot initiative calling for the legalization of retail cannabis sales and delivery, 33,291 Costa Mesa residents voted for passage, comprising 65.17% of the vote, compared to 17,793 opposed.

Final vote totals confirmed the reelection of incumbent Mayor Katrina Foley, who led in a pack of five mayoral candidates with 25,833 votes for a 52.22% win. Councilwoman Sandy Genis earned 11,158 votes, while challenger Wendy Leece ended with 5,751 votes, compared to Quentin “Q” Pullens’ 5,161 ballots and 1,564 votes cast for Al Melone.

Outgoing Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens congratulated Foley on her victory Tuesday during his last council meeting, pointing out she was the only council candidate who earned a majority of the vote in her race.

“She got almost as many votes as Measure Q, which is saying something,” he quipped.

Stephens ran for an open council seat in District 1 but was edged out by challenger Don Harper, who earned 4,437 votes — just 323 more ballots than the incumbent’s 4,114. A seat representing Costa Mesa’s Council District 2 went to newcomer Loren Gameros, who ultimately earned 3,962 votes, ahead of candidate Ben Chapman, who figures show earned 2,436.

In the sixth council district, Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Jeff Harlan ended up with 4,612 ballots cast in his favor, with challenger Jeff Pettis ending up with 1,997 votes.

Kids from the Costa Mesa-based nonprofit have been learning from professional soccer players during the Tuesday afternoon clinics.

Making a motion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to certify election results, Councilman Manuel Chavez marveled at the democratic process.

“Democracy matters,” he said. “This is why we vote, and this is the sacred part of being a democracy, is that we respect the result the votes.”

Council members agreed, certifying the county returns Tuesday in a 7-0 vote.

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