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The O.C. vote: Reform shapes local races, state initiatives

Orange County faces a number of proposals, measures and local elections in November

by Gabriel Cortés and
Scott McCourtney
Published: September 28, 2012 03:30 PM

When Orange County residents go to the polls this November, they will be voting on much more than a single presidential candidate. The need for change and a desire for reform continue to dominate the political arena, from the governorship to the most local levels of government, and a myriad of candidates, state propositions and local measures hope to address the on-going fiscal crises across California. From borrowing bond money to raising taxes, here is an overview of the propositions and measures that will most affect Orange County, and the candidates trying to reshape the direction of the region.

In Irvine, a team of three Republicans has united to dismantle the City Council’s fragile Democratic majority. Branding themselves “Team Irvine,” the conservative triad consists of mayoral candidate and current councilman Steven Choi, former councilwoman Christina Shea, and Tea Party candidate Lynn Schott. Schott has signed the Lincoln Club’s “union-free pledge,” which declares that the candidate will not accept campaign contributions from public employee unions due to their “corrupting influence at all levels of government.” Councilman Jeff Lalloway, who is not up for reelection, has also signed the pledge.

Santa Ana’s mayoral race is also focused on reinvigorating the city government with new blood. Councilman David Benavides has become the front-runner in a slate of challengers to the incumbent mayor, Miguel Pulido. The councilman asserts that Mayor Pulido, in office since 1992, has been rendered ineffective by his nearly 20-year mayoralty, and as a result, Santa Ana’s business community has suffered.

How will the upcoming presidential election affect business? Read OC METRO magazine's October cover story to find out.

The push for reform is even a key factor in the small city of San Juan Capistrano. Former two-term mayor and physician Roy Byrnes has left retirement to run for the City Council once again. As a member of the group Capistrano Common Sense, Dr. Byrnes is dissatisfied with the high levels of city spending and debt.

Perhaps the most significant example of municipal reorganization, however, comes from the Costa Mesa City Council. In late July, the council continued its push to transform the city government when it passed a city charter initiative to be put on the November ballot. If passed, the measure will give the council unprecedented power to outsource city services, much to the chagrin of affected unions.

At the state level, O.C. will face eleven propositions in the voting booth come November. Taxes, as always, are a major issue, with education programs and schools standing to benefit the most from proposed increases.