Orange County voters headed to the polls in three cities–SanTana, San Clemente and Stanton–on Tuesday to fill city council and school board vacancies as well as decide on important tax measures. The biggest races of the day happened in SanTana. With all precincts reporting on Tuesday night, leading candidates emerged.
In the race to replace the seat vacated by former Santa Ana Unified School District trustee Ceci Iglesias when she won election to city council last year, longtime Chicanos Unidos activist and junior high school teacher Carolyn Torres commanded a sizable margin against David Benavides, a former three-time SanTana city councilman and executive director of KidWorks. Normally, seeing Iglesias, a pro-charter school Republican, have her old seat taken over by a progressive teacher would be otherwise hailed by Democrats.
But the race exposed divisions within the party’s base.
Benavides enjoyed the endorsement of the Democratic Party of Orange County and the Orange County Labor Federation. Only, institutional support (including that of current board president Valerie Amezcua) and name recognition couldn’t carry the day. Torres’ campaign ran a dedicated grassroots ground game helping give her a 45.4 percent to 31.9 percent edge over Benavides. In fact, she’s collected more votes than any candidate in any race in SanTana so far.
The hard fought campaign will see Torres complete the year remaining on Iglesias’ term. There’ll be another election next year for a full, four-year term.
A tighter three-way race emerged in the city-wide contest for Ward 4. Former planning commissioner Phil Bacerra currently enjoys a relative majority lead with 28.2 percent of the vote. Beatriz Mendoza, his next closest challenger, trails behind at 24.7 percent, a statistical difference of 329 votes. Urban planner Manny Escamilla follows at a close third. If the numbers don’t shift in his favor, it appears as if Escamilla will be the latest young progressive candidate in the Golden City unable to clear the electoral hurdle to council, although the gap is drawing ever closer.
If Bacerra cements his win, it may be without even 30 percent of the vote. Some mandate…
SanTana didn’t lay claim to all the electoral action. San Clemente voters decided on who best to replace Steve Swartz’s seat after the mayor passed away earlier this year. Gene James, who cheered the removal of homeless people from North Beach this year, is crushing progressive wunder kid Jackson Hinkle in opening up a 55.8 percent to 30.4 percent lead. San Clemente’s mainstay of reactionaries are giddy, believing the election to be a dress rehearsal for 2020 when libs will supposedly get owned from the White House on down.
Over in Stanton, voters are on track to approve two tax measures with ease. Measure A stands to collect taxes from future cannabis and hemp businesses to generate revenue for the city’s general fund, that is if Stanton ever gets around to allowing such businesses to open. Measure B proposes to raise the transient occupancy tax rate for the city’s hotels and motels from 8 percent to 12 percent.
The Orange County Registrar of Voters reports that there’s 4,818 votes left to count county-wide. The next scheduled update will happen on Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m.