To say the local 2018 elections were earth-shattering might just be an understatement. Although the results won’t be certified until Dec. 4, with each passing day it’s very clear that some serious changes are occurring in local venues. For example, Republican 30-year incumbent Dana Rohrabacher has lost the 48th District Congressional seat to a first time politician, Republican-turned-Democrat Harley Rouda. And that race wasn’t even close.
You can almost feel the earth shaking. Rouda is a solid candidate, but you have to think the vicious primary campaign between Rohrabacher and his former friend, Scott Baugh, drained much of Rohrabacher’s energy and finances and exposed some of his weaknesses. Regardless, this result has national implications as the Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives.
And, as it stands now, Democratic newbie Cottie Petrie-Norris will defeat Republican incumbent Matt Harper for the 74th Assembly seat, further eroding the influence of the GOP in state matters.
The Costa Mesa City Council races are equally surprising. In the first-ever district voting election, which includes the first-ever directly-elected mayor, Councilwoman Katrina Foley soundly defeated Mayor Sandra Genis — the woman who helped oust Foley as mayor last year. Even more interesting are the individual district races, where Andrea Marr (District 3), Manuel Chavez (District 4) and Arlis Reynolds (District 5) hold solid leads over their pro-developer opponents.
Reynolds will soundly defeat Mayor Pro Tem (and former mayor) Allan Mansoor. Two years ago, then-Mayor Steve Mensinger lost his bid for re-election — the first time in my memory that a sitting mayor was defeated. This time around, two former mayors have been defeated. Both Genis and Mansoor will still be able to complete the remaining two years of their at-large terms on the council, but, with a seven-person council, they will be firmly in the minority on the dais.
Speaking of which, this district voting scheme was intended to provide an opportunity for our Latino population (37% of our residents) to have better representation. Well, we will soon see not only the first Latino on the council, but three people of Latino heritage will be helping to chart the course of our city into the future. And, we will have, for the first time, four women on the council. And, in Chavez, we will have the youngest person ever to serve on the City Council.
Two years ago, the voters in Costa Mesa overwhelmingly passed both Measure Y (the slow growth measure) and Measure AA (to protect Fairview Park from development) and, with the resounding rejection of Mensinger, sent a message to the leaders of this city — they’ve had enough of the pro-developer philosophy spouted by Councilman Jim Righeimer and Mensinger. This election placed a huge exclamation point on that decision. There can be absolutely no doubt about how the electorate feels about that style of governance. Yep, I can feel the ground moving.
Republicans caused the blue wave
Republicans in Orange County have no one but themselves to blame for tanking the party in this GOP stronghold. The allegiance to President Trump cost incumbents and candidates dearly. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) notably wiped out in the blue wave. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), former Assemblywoman Young Kim and state Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey, also lost in part due to their support of Trump. Locally, staunch Trump supporter Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) lost his seat in the 74th District to Democrat Cottie Petri-Norris.
It was clear that many GOP voters were embarrassed and disgusted with their lack of representation in both Washington, D.C., and Sacramento and with the slavish acceptance of the president’s conduct by their elected officials. Other blue waves may be lining up off-shore, and it is time for Republicans to either seek shelter or change and move to higher political ground.
Or is it a blue tsunami?
Now that the votes have been counted, all seven congressional districts in Orange County will be represented by a Democrat beginning in January. Most political insiders never believed a blue tsunami of this magnitude would happen in their lifetime. It wasn’t that long ago when Republicans joked all Democrats in the county could meet in a telephone booth.
Remembering Anne England’s contributions
I moved to Laguna Beach in 1981 and soon met Anne England. In all these years I have not know an individual who served the Laguna Beach community more on so vast a level. She was a champion of the arts and artists. She founded the Benevolent Fund at both the Sawdust Art Festival and the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters.
This fund assists artists to cover medical bills and assist when their ability to work due to illness has occurred. There are additional arts organizations like LOCA Arts Education and the Laguna College of Art that have benefited from her selfless time contributed. The Laguna Beach Art Museum was also saved in part by her early resistance and protest. And if all that was not enough when the Festival of Arts was in the process of being hijacked by forces outside of Laguna, she was an early fighter to keep the festival and pageant in town.
Sadly, after years of her own brave health struggles she recently died. Her legacy will live on with the many good deeds and organizations she was instrumental in starting and being part of.
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