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Election 2022: Coastal O.C. voters weigh in on competitive city races, ballot measures

Zeign Schmidt patiently waits as his mother, Pepper, casts her ballot at the Huntington Beach City Hall on Election Day.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Although results will be filtering in for weeks, election season is officially over.

Voting centers across Orange County closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and preliminary results were released for local, state and federal races. As was the case with the 2020 presidential election, the final verdict for the election is not expected to be in until all mail-in ballots, which continue to be received by the Orange County Registrar of Voters, are tabulated. Any ballot postmarked by Nov. 8 will be counted.

Roughly 1.8 million county residents are registered voters and, as of Tuesday night, it appeared 24.3% of voters showed up to cast their ballots this election.

Here are the preliminary results for city council races and ballot measures in the Daily Pilot’s coverage area as of 8 p.m. Tuesday:

People wait in line to vote at the Norma Hertzog Community Center in Costa Mesa on Election Day 2022.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa

Gray skies and the threat of rain did little to deter local voters in Costa Mesa, who lined up outside the new Norma Hertzog Community Center Tuesday to cast ballots on the very last day possible.

Opened to the public in July 2021 and named for the city’s first woman council member and mayor, the center was one of 181 vote centers in Orange County and among six Costa Mesa polling sites.

Making sure to vote before the rain descended, World War II veteran Charles Pursley and wife Jo arrived at the community center bright and early. Having served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Europe, Pursley, 95, believes voting is a privilege and so makes sure to come out each election cycle.

“We’re both pretty conservative,” the Costa Mesa resident said, identifying himself as an independent voter who cares about the economy and the abortion issue. “We wanted a change in both the federal and state government.”

“I’m really afraid of the way we’re going,” Jo Pursley, 88, agreed.

A Spanish teacher who taught the language to English and native Spanish speakers in New Mexico, Long Beach and South Central Los Angles, Charles Pursley said he’s concerned about public school education. Voting, he said, is the best way to make your voice heard.

“Regardless of your preferences, you should vote,” he said.

Two seats are at the center of this year’s race for City Council, in addition to the at-large mayoral position in Costa Mesa.

The mayoral race, which is up every two years, is currently being led by incumbent John Stephens, with 61.5% of the votes cast, according to early results. Stephens, who was first elected in 2016 and was directly appointed to replace former Mayor Katrina Foley, is followed by candidate John Moorlach, a former county supervisor and state senator, who had 38.5% of the votes in the early returns.

In Districts 3 and 5, City Council incumbents Andrea Marr and Arlis Reynolds are on trend to hold onto their seats. Ballots in favor of Marr and Reynolds account for 54.2% and 70.3% of the early votes, respectively. Competitors John Thomas Patton and Jorge Miron had 32.4% and 13.4% of the votes in District 3, while in District 5, candidate Robert Dickson received 29.7% of the votes.

Incumbent Councilman Manuel Chavez ran unopposed in his district.

Costa Mesa also has a proposed ordinance on the ballot — Measure K — which seeks to address the course of future development and housing within the city. If approved, it would exempt certain commercial and industrial corridors from an existing rule that would require voter approval of projects that exceed the city’s general plan and zoning code.

As of Tuesday night, 7,418 residents had voted in favor of the measure.

There are 61,664 voters in Costa Mesa.

Fountain Valley

A steady trickle of people cast their ballots at Freedom Hall at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, a voting center that typically sees less traffic than the other three in the city, resident Anthony Thompson, 48, said. That’s why he chose to vote in person there on election night. He said he was in just a few minutes.

“Everyone’s talking about election security this year, but I have full faith in the system,” the client services manager for a marketing firm said. “I think they do a good job.”

In Fountain Valley, three of the five City Council seats were on the ballot.

Fountain Valley is not divided into council districts, so all 13 candidates running for a seat vied in the same race. Voters were asked to select up to three candidates. The three front-runners will be the ones sworn in in December. Currently in the lead are Fountain Valley School District board member Jim Cunneen is leading with 3,530 of votes; incumbent Patrick Harper, with 3,255 of votes; and incumbent Kim Constantine, with 3,217 of votes.

They are followed by Steve Nagel, with 2,752 votes; Cindy Cao, 2,630; Alicia “Rudy” Huebner, 2,060; Michael Mau, 1,453; Glenn Bleiweis, 1,230; Darrel Mymon-Brown, 1,080; Eugene Murray, 732; Nancy Dugay, 487; Shaun Diamond, 394; and Dwight Shackelford, 339.

There are 37,619 voters in Fountain Valley.

Christina Krebs assists Brandon Mendez in processing his ballot at Huntington Beach City Hall on Tuesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach

In the battleground of Huntington Beach, 18 candidates competed for four of the seven seats on the dais. No incumbents were on the ballot as currently sitting members — Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson — will all term out this year and Councilwoman Kim Carr is seeking a seat in the state Senate.

Early results indicate the four front-runners of that race are Pat Burns, with 11.8% of votes, Tony Strickland, with 11.8% of votes, Gracey Van Der Mark, with 10.4% of votes, and Casey McKeon, with 10.4% of votes.

They are followed by Gina Clayton-Tarvin with 9.5%; Kenneth Inouye, 8.8%; Jill Hardy, 8.6%; Oscar Rodriguez, 8%; Brian Burley, 4.7%; William “Billy” O’Connell, 3.2%; David Clifford, 2.7%; Vera Fair, 2.6%; Mike Vogler, 2.2%; Bobby Britton, 1.9%; Gabrielle Samiy, 1.6%; Amory Hanson, 0.7%; Jeffrey Hansler, 0.7%; and, last, Robert Reider with 0.4% of the votes.

Additionally, City Atty. Michael Gates garnered 58.1% of the votes against competitor Scott Field with 42% of the votes counted as of Tuesday.

The city also had a number of measures on the ballot this year. Measures M and N sought to amend the city charter and delineate the responsibilities of the city clerk, treasurer and attorney. Measure O would permit the taxation of commercial cannabis businesses within city limits, and Measure L would allow the council to construct restrooms or replace existing equipment and infrastructure that does not exceed 10% of its footprint and height without voter approval.

As of Tuesday night, roughly 22,067 residents are in favor of Measure O, but it’s a closer margin for Measures L and N. Measure M is currently leaning squarely against those amendments with 19,265 voting against it. The “no” votes currently have it for Measures L with 51.3% and “yes” votes for N with 50.6%.

Roughly 133,000 voters reside in Huntington Beach.

A voter casts his ballot in the drop box at the Laguna Beach Public Library on Election Day, Nov. 8.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach

In what has been a heated race in Laguna Beach, seven candidates are fighting for a seat on the five-member board. As in Fountain Valley, council representation is not divided into districts. The top three vote-getters will be elected and sworn onto the dais in December. Voters will be able to choose up to three candidates.

Incumbent Sue Kempf, with 21.6% of the early votes was just behind leader Alex Rounaghi, who garnered 22.2%. Incumbent Peter Blake appears poised to be ousted from the dais, having garnered only 9% of the early vote.

Mark Orgill, who received 14.7% of the early votes, might be filling the third seat. He is followed by candidates Jerome Pudwill with 12%; Ruben Flores with 11.3%; and Louis Weil with 9.4%.

Longtime Councilwoman Toni Iseman bowed out of the race this year.

Also on the ballot for Laguna Beach residents this fall were three ballot measures — Measures Q, R and S. Measure Q would establish an overlay zoning district and require voter approval on major development projects. Measures R and S deal chiefly with the city’s hotels. Measure R would facilitate the creation of a hotel development overlay zoning district and require voter approval for hotel development projects. Measure S focuses on creating a minimum wage and establishing workplace standards for hotel employees.

Laguna Beach voters appeared to be overwhelmingly against all three measures with the “no” votes lodged holding majorities of more than 60% of the ballots cast so far.

About 18,000 people are registered voters in the city.

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day at Newport Beach City Hall.
Voters wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day at Newport Beach City Hall on Election Day 2022.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Beach

Standing among Costa Mesa denizens lined up at the community center were Newport Beach residents Karen and Gary Swanson, who came out because the location was listed on their ballot books as the nearest polling center.

Karen Swanson has been voting since the ’70s and said she feels it does make a difference. This cycle, she chose to focus on council candidates who campaigned on platforms of slower growth, public safety and preserving the quality of life in the city, casting votes for Erik Weigand and Joseph Stapleton.

“I care about keeping Newport Beach not developed too much, when it comes to who’s going to be on the [council],” she said, adding that in addition to reading her voter information guide, she looks to see which endorsements candidates have received.

“I usually look at the police and fireman, who they endorse, because of crime and homelessness,” she added. “We’d love to see a change of direction, but we’ll see what happens.”

Eight candidates are running for four open seats on the Newport Beach City Council.

Three sitting councilmembers will be terming out this fall and only one incumbent, Councilwoman Joy Brenner, ran for reelection. In addition, one of the races was uncontested. Candidate Robyn Grant will be taking on the seat for District 4.

In District 1, Joe Stapleton is leading the race with the current majority of the votes at 59.6%. Fellow candidate Tom Miller followed with 40.3%. In District 3, the race was a toss-up for who will be elected between three candidates — Planning Commissioner Erik Weigand, Jim Mosher and Amy Peters. As of 8 p.m., Weigand is leading the race with 54.1% of the votes.

Trailing behind are Jim Mosher with 30.2% of the votes and Amy Peters with 15.7% of the early votes cast.

Meanwhile in the lone reelection race, Brenner is ahead of Planning Commissioner Lauren Kleiman with 52.7% of the votes and Kleiman with 47.3%.

About 61,000 voters live in Newport Beach.

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