Buena Park Mayor Virginia Vaughn Clings to 28-Vote Lead Over Sunny Park

Vaughn at the grand opening of CGV Theaters at the Source. Photo by John Gilhooley

Buena Park’s city council race between Virginia Vaughn, Sunny Youngsun Park and Val Sadowinski is living up to its competitive hype, even a week after Election Day. District 1, the northernmost area of Buena Park, is also the city’s most evenly split across many lines. Here’s how the numbers break down. Demographically, residents are 42 percent Asian-American, 31 percent Latino and 23 percent white. Politically, 38 percent are Democrat, 31 percent are Republican and 29 are percent independent.

Here’s how the District 1 candidates break down: Vaughn is a white Republican, Park is a Korean-American Democrat and Sadowinski is a Latino independent. There’s a little something for everyone!

It’s no surprise that a week after Election Day, District 1 is a closely contested three-way race with Vaughn clinging to a 28-vote margin against Park, her nearest opponent. The first count held Vaughn in the lead with 34.8 percent of the vote. Park and Sadowinski trailed close behind with 32.8 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively. The numbers have only slightly changed a week later. Vaughn is still in the lead with 34.6 percent but Park is closing in with 33.8 percent.

Outspent by both candidates, Sadowinski, a retired physician, did remarkable well in one of the best showings for an independent candidate in OC. He currently trails Vaughn by 101 votes in earning a 31.7 percent share of the electorate, but it may not be enough to close the gap with however many ballots remain to be counted.

The close city council race also proved to be bitterly contested. In the lead up to Election Day, Buena Park police arrested, cited and released Park for allegedly stealing signs that deemed her a “carpetbagger.” Kenny Vaughn, Virginia’s husband, confronted Park over the signs in an encounter caught on camera. Before that, Victor Perrin, a Vaughn supporter, did the same while filming a separate incident.

Sunny Park. Courtesy Sunny Park campaign

The Buena Park Police Department shared Perrin’s viral video on its Facebook page before deleting it; an attorney for Park sent a letter demanding the deletion after accusing the police of continuing a campaign against her in favor of Vaughn, who the Buena Park Police Officers Association just happened to donate more than $10,000 in support.

Whether the flurry of negative social media and press attention following Park’s arrest will ultimately prove a factor in her possible loss remains to be seen. The race is too close to call.

One thing’s for sure. Vaughn will still be serving as mayor tomorrow when former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee arrives as the special guest speaker for the 40th annual mayor’s prayer breakfast event. Originally scheduled to take place at–wait for it–Medieval Times, the venue has since changed to the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel & Resort.

Incoming Democrat councilman Connor Traut (hey, weren’t you in West Anaheim just a few years ago?) won’t be there. “The Buena Park Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Committee’s scheduling of Mike Huckabee–a controversial politician with a lengthy record opposed to equal rights for LGBT people–as this year’s keynote speaker has created an expected divide in the Buena Park community,” says Traut in a social media statement. “Out of protest to this divisive decision, I will not be attending the Buena Park Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast this year.” 

Traut’s no-show isn’t the only protest planned for tomorrow. With the mayor’s prayer breakfast starting at 7 a.m., activists are planning a sidewalk demonstration in front of the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel & Resort and are gathering a half-hour before the event begins.

2 Replies to “Buena Park Mayor Virginia Vaughn Clings to 28-Vote Lead Over Sunny Park”

  1. So apparently Sunny Park ended up winning this election by 16 votes.

    But for some reason, it didn’t make the news. Which is pretty odd, considering this article was newsworthy. Isn’t the final result of the election more important than an interim vote count?

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