Katrina Foley Wins OC Supervisor Special Election

On+Tuesday+March+9th+Katrina+Foley+became+the+first+Democratic+woman+elected+to+the+Orange+County+Board+of+Supervisors.+She+will+represent+supervisorial+district+two%2C+which+inclues+coastal+cities+of+northern+Orange+County+such+as+Hunnington+Beach%2C+Costa+Mesa%2C+Newport+Beach%2C+and+parts+of+Santa+Ana.

Image courtesy of the Daiy Pilot

On Tuesday March 9th Katrina Foley became the first Democratic woman elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She will represent supervisorial district two, which inclues coastal cities of northern Orange County such as Hunnington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and parts of Santa Ana.

Max Katz, Politics Editor

“I really believe we made something happen here in Orange County,” exclaimed the newly elected Katrina Foley to a Zoom full of her supporters once her victory on March 9th was apparent.

Foley, the incumbent mayor of Costa Mesa, will become the first Democratic woman to serve on the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the first Democrat to represent supervisorial district two since the 1890s.

Foley’s victory will put an end to the Republican supermajority on the board, and create a more competitive dynamic for policy debate as there will now be only a 3-2 Republican majority. This could also give Democrats a chance to influence the decennial process of redrawing of supervisorial districts, another sign that the Democratic party is on the rise in the historically conservative neighborhoods of Orange County.

The special election campaign began when incumbent Orange County supervisor Michelle Steele unseated Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda back in November. This triggered a high-stakes election to fill the vacancy on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Officially, OC Supervisor races are nonpartisan; however, the races are highly politicized and attract endorsements from Republicans and Democrats. This led to controversy within the Republican field when Newport Beach council member Kevin Muldoon and Fountain Valley mayor Michael Vo refused to drop out and clear the way for front-runner, John Morlach.

I run on issues. It does not matter what party you are, what matters is whether your road is repaired properly. Issues such as covid recovery are bipartisan issues. Issues such as mental health services and moving people off the streets and into housing are bipartisan issues”

— Foley

“If the two confused Republicans were not in the race, I would be ahead right now,” said Morlach.

It is likely that the Republican party’s lack of unity around a single candidate is a major cause of their poor performance in this race. The two liberal candidates received 48% compared to 52% for the conservatives, yet Foley’s significant individual lead with 43% of the vote led her to victory.

Regardless of what factors influenced the election, Foley will now have the opportunity to be a new voice for progressive politics on the OC Board of Supervisors.

“After the year that I have spent as mayor working with the (Orange) County supervisors dealing with the public health crisis I feel that we need a lot better leadership there at the county level,” said Foley.

Supervisor-elect Foley has promised to use her office to finally end pandemic era hardships in Orange County. This includes her promise to reach herd immunity in Orange County within 100 days as well as getting funds to aid local businesses before the county teachers herd immunity.

Beyond vaccination and pandemic relief packages, Foley is focused on combating climate change. She is the first Orange County official to introduce a climate action plan for the county.

“This climate action plan addresses a whole range of issues including housing, transportation, energy, water, wildfire mitigation, beaches. All these issues are collectively important yet the county does not have a plan right now,” said Foley.

The plan also includes making electric vehicle charging stations more accessible, providing incentives to switch to solar energy and a plan to reach a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions level by 2035.

Even with an ambitious policy agenda, Foley will have to continue to win over the trust and support of her constituents in a district that has more registered Republicans than Democrats.

“I run on issues. It does not matter what party you are, what matters is whether your road is repaired properly. Issues such as covid recovery are bipartisan issues. Issues such as mental health services and moving people off the streets and into housing are bipartisan issues,” said Foley.

This mindset has led Foley to success, as she has won school board, city council, and mayoral races in Costa Mesa with a Republican-majority electorate. In these offices, Foley has prioritized balanced budgets, community infrastructure projects, and most notably partnering with Newport Beach officials to fight homelessness.

“I have to force myself to take a couple of days off because I want to get to work tomorrow!” said Foley on election night. 

Foley will likely face a tough reelection battle in 2022 against a more united and politically empowered Republican party. Until then, she will be focused on being a voice for workers and economic progress in Orange County.