OC Supervisor Races See Last-Minute Spending as Primary Draws Near

Candidates for Orange County supervisor are doubling down in the final days of the election, with many disclosing hundreds of thousands of dollars in new donations to fuel their push for the finish line.

The county sheriff’s deputies union – through its political action committee – remains the dominant spending force, disclosing over $448,000 in advertising spending for county State Senator Janet Nguyen and Don Wagner, who are running for the first and third district seats, respectively. 

Nearly $200,000 of that spending has come in just the past week. 

[ReadOrange County Sheriffs’ Union Jumps Into Supervisor Races, Spends $250k]

To keep up, most of their opponents are throwing in their own money to try and keep pace.  

First District 

The county’s northwest supervisor seat is up for grabs this year as OC Supervisor Andrew Do terms out, and there’s a large number of candidates running to replace him. 

[ReadOpen Northwest Orange County Supervisor Seat Sees Packed Primary]

Unless one of the candidates clears over 50% of the votes in the March 5 primary, the top two vote getters will run against each other in the November presidential election.  

Nguyen is continuing to lead the fundraising race for county supervisor, with most of her last minute support coming from the county sheriff’s deputy union.  

Altogether, the deputies’ union has spent just over $150,000 on ads supporting Nguyen’s candidacy, and donated $2,500 directly to her campaign.  

Beyond the union’s spending, Nguyen has raised at least $446,000 overall for her campaign including 2023, according to disclosures. She’s spent $475,000 directly from her campaign funds.

Combined with sheriff deputies’ spending, the state senator’s seen roughly $625,000 spent on her campaign. 

In second place for funding is Van Tran, Do’s chief of staff who’s seeking to take his boss’ place.

Most of Tran’s funding in the final weeks of the election is coming out of his own pocket, with his disclosures showing he gave $127,000 of his own money to his campaign fund in addition to the money from donors. 

Altogether, Tran has raised around $442,000 from donors overall and spent just under $588,000.  

And he’s not the only candidate investing his own money in the race. 

Both Westminster Councilwoman Kimberly Ho and former Fountain Valley Mayor Michael Vo disclosed investing heavily in their own campaigns over the last two weeks. 

Vo donated $28,000 to his own campaign this year according to his disclosures, in addition to $226,000 he’s loaned to his campaign account that has yet to be repaid. 

Altogether, he’s fundraised $79,000 from outside donors and spent $109,000 on his campaign. 

Ho loaned her campaign $150,000 on Feb. 12, which represents about 91% of all her funding. 

After not raising any money last year, she’s disclosed raising $13,329 from the end of January to Feb. 17 and has spent about $28,000, leaving her with $142,000 in the bank for the final days of the election from her personal loan.  

Cypress City Councilwoman Frances Marquez, the lone Democrat in the race, has raised around $27,000 this year, bringing her total amount raised to nearly $100,000. 

She’s spent just under $60,000 on her campaign overall, according to disclosures. 

Third District 

In the county’s eastern district, incumbent Supervisor Wagner is fending off a challenge from Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan. 

Given that there are only two candidates, it’s likely one of them will win the necessary majority of votes to win the election outright and avoid a runoff race in the fall. 

[ReadEastern OC Supervisors Election Could Get Decided in March Primary]

The OC Sheriff deputies’ union political action committee has spent big on Wagner, disclosing nearly $300,000 on ads boosting the supervisor’s campaign. 

Click here to read the full article in VoiceofOC

How will candidates for Orange County supervisor deal with county unions?

As part of this newspaper’s endorsement process, we invited the candidates for Orange County supervisor to provide their written thoughts, only lightly edited for length, on major public policy matters.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors prepare to hold its first meeting in the new building named, County Administration North, in Santa Ana on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Here we present their responses to the question: The county employees’ unions are powerful local political players, yet their interests aren’t usually aligned with those of taxpayers. What strategies have you considered when you go head-to-head with the union in negotiating contracts?

Van Tran: While unions have their strength in number, fiscal prudence is still what resonates most with residents. Educating the public as to our fiscal health and the risk that goes with any increases in salary and benefits will go a long way in empowering the Board of Supervisors to be able to take a firmer stance in negotiation.

Don Wagner: I am not afraid to say no in negotiations and vote no when necessary on contracts that are not in the best interests of the community I represent. I have won elections in the past without union support, but am always appreciative of such support when the interests of the union, a fair wage for a fair day’s labor, dovetail with the interests of the community in a competent, diligent local workforce.

Frances Marquez: I’m a former union organizer and am proud to be endorsed by many local labor unions in this race. Unions help ensure workers are paid a living wage, earn benefits, and plan for a secure retirement. I am also not afraid to speak truth to power, and I will look out for the taxpayer first. My experience creating public policy has informed my approach to bringing people of both parties together to solve challenges. I plan to collaborate and engage union leaders, businesses, and our county government and ensure negotiations are made in good faith. I will be transparent in my actions to the public.

Janet Nguyen: My experience as a city councilwoman, supervisor, and senator has given me unique exposure to the power of public employee unions. During my time as a councilwoman, we had employee unions asking for the board to sign contracts with an initial defined increase for the first year and “market rate” increases for the years following. This contract was a non-starter. My colleagues and I negotiated defined increases over the life of the contract so the payroll could be properly budgeted for years to come. I have always been an advocate for taxpayers and have always negotiated for balanced public employee union contracts that are fair for employees and taxpayers. We want the best of the best to work at the County of Orange, but at the same time we should not be building the county budget to accommodate extravagant employee pay, benefits, and retirement plans. Fiscal responsibility and prudence will always be my guiding light on contract negotiations.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Before Promising To Solve the World’s Big Problems, Politicians Should Aim To Fix Potholes

The lonely crusade against government hubris.

Upon election to office, politicians come to believe that they have the wherewithal to solve the world’s toughest problems. They usually mishandle the nuts-and-bolts chores they’re charged with addressing, yet dream of altering the Earth’s climate and eliminating enduring human conditions such as inequality and poverty.

Most pols view themselves as the second coming of John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, or even Ronald Reagan, when most of us just want public servants who make sure the potholes are filled, the streets are marginally safe, the government budget balances, the trash gets picked up on time, and homeless people aren’t defecating in our local park.

The latest example of such governmental hubris comes from the county of Los Angeles which, you know, can’t even put an end to alleged gangs among the ranks of its own highly paid deputy sheriffs nor figure out how to run its child-protective services agency in a competent and humane manner. Now county officials want to “solve” the crisis of loneliness.

Before Christmas, the county Board of Supervisors “took on a problem that is typically private and put it in the public eye,” The Los Angeles Times reported. “They voted unanimously to ask staffers to research how residents are affected by loneliness and isolation and how the county can help—particularly during a pandemic where in-person contact has been off-limits.”

Loneliness is a serious mental-health scourge, but the last part of the above sentence provides insight into the main reason for the current bout of isolation. Governments want to study why we feel lonely and disconnected, but government pandemic rules limited the ability of Americans to socialize with one another as we approach two years of mandated social-distancing rules.

“Loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, researchers warned in a recent webcast, and the problem is particularly acute among seniors, especially during holidays,” according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. You probably didn’t even know that there is a federal agency with such a name, but I digress.

“A Harvard University survey conducted in October 2020 found that feelings of social isolation are on the rise during the pandemic, and that those hardest hit are older teens and young adults—61 percent of respondents felt ‘serious loneliness,'” noted a Boston University report. “And social media, where young people live and breathe more than any previous generation, is not helping.”

Say it ain’t so. I’m not sure what Los Angeles County staffers will add to the debate, but the board might have thought about that scenario when it previously embraced draconian shutdowns rather than more reasonable and flexible pandemic-related restrictions. This is such a government phenomenon—create a crisis, then vow to solve it for us.

Fortunately, the county isn’t planning on repeating its mistakes as the Omicron variant emerges, at least not as of this writing. I don’t mean to be too hard on county supervisors, who at least acknowledge the pandemic-related policy causes of the Great Alienation. Their intentions are good, but you know what they say about good intentions.

“We didn’t mean to do it,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said during the board meeting. “We don’t mean to cause isolation. But we are, in some cases, a part of the problem.” Indeed. Government officials don’t mean to cause many of the problems they do cause, which is good reason to at least show skepticism next time they want to save us from something.

Do a Google search of “loneliness epidemic” and you’ll find multiple news stories, government statements, and academic reports—some even pre-dating COVID-19. A well-known book from 22 years ago, “Bowling Alone,” spotlighted the crisis in connectedness caused by trends in family, work, and media.

I don’t minimize this issue, but my wife offered my kids the best advice: Get together with friends. Turn off the TV. Log out of Facebook. Perhaps I should put her in touch with county brain trusts. Some issues are beyond the pale of government intervention. Sometimes we have to take control of our lives.

We all play along with the notion that politicians can solve all of our problems, even though we know better. I don’t know anyone who has heard, say, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s soaring rhetoric and come away thinking he’ll really change the Earth’s climate—even as he fails to keep his own Employment Development Department from sending billions of dollars in unemployment funds to scammers.

It’s not a Democrat vs. Republican thing, either, as GOP politicians have suddenly discovered the supposed crisis of masculinity just as they have long bemoaned troubles in the American family. Politicians are adept at mining votes by identifying societal shortcomings, but their solutions always involve giving them more money and power.

I eagerly await Los Angeles County’s report on loneliness, but I still wish county supervisors would spend more time filling the potholes.

This article was published by Reason

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