State senator challenged by opponent over her residency

This year’s redrawing of legislative districts has forced several lawmakers to move so they can compete in the November election to stay in office.

But one Democratic candidate isn’t buying the claim of Republican state Sen. Mimi Walters that she moved from her Laguna Niguel mansion into a small studio apartment in Irvine so she could run in the new 37th state Senate District.

Democratic Senate candidate Steve Young, an attorney, has filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court arguing that Walters does not legitimately live in the district so she should be taken off the ballot in the Nov. 6 election. “Senator Walters is trying to defraud the people of Orange County,” Young said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges the senator has not given up living in her 14,000-square-foot home in Laguna Niguel for a 570-square-foot studio apartment that "has no dishwasher, and no washer dryer hook ups.’’ It notes that her husband is still registered to vote in Laguna Niguel, even though her state Senate website says "She and her husband, David, live in Irvine with their four children.”

Brad Chase, a spokesman for Young, said the campaign sent flowers to the Irvine apartment and they sat uncollected on the doorstep for a week.

A campaign official for Walters denied the allegations. "The lawsuit has no merit," said spokesman Dave Gilliard. "Dealing with frivolous lawsuits like this is what happens when your opponent is both a politician and a trial lawyer.’’

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento.

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