Laguna Beach supporters of failed recall cite COVID-19 mandates as key issue

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Kyla Robinson, 23, of Laguna Beach votes in the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 14 at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Senior Center. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.

Laguna Beach voters turned out Tuesday to cast their ballot on the final day of voting on whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is projected to remain in office.

A steady stream of people showed up at a Vote Center inside the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center around the lunch hour to either drop off mail-in ballots or vote in person. Employees and volunteers with the Orange County Registrar of Voters guided voters on how to use a machine that collects and scans each ballot.

Laguna Beach voting precincts reported a moderate turnout ranging from 50.41% in Laguna Canyon to 64.41% in Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights. Voters across all precincts overwhelmingly opposed the recall campaign, according to data from the Registrar of Voters.

Democratic voters registered in Laguna Beach still outnumber Republicans by 7,934 to 5,212, according to Orange County voter roll data. Residents with no party preference make up the city’s third largest bloc with 4,160 voters.

Orange County was a key battleground for the “Yes on Recall” campaign. But by late Tuesday, the County’s recall supporters were behind, earning 47.41% of votes counted.

“I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state,” Newsom said Tuesday. “We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber will certify the election results by Oct. 22, according to the department’s website.

Despite the Democrats’ edge in Laguna Beach, several voters at the Vote Center said they supported recalling Newsom and wanted Republican radio host Larry Elder to replace him.

Dawn Niday, 49, of Laguna Beach said she wanted to see Newsom recalled over his administration’s conflicting messages over face coverings. The idea state officials would recommend wearing outdoors is “ridiculous”, she said.

“I don’t like his issues around taxes and I don’t like how he’s handled Covid,” Niday said. “Here in Orange County, I think we’ve done a good job managing the pandemic.”

She supports Elder because his platform leans toward libertarianism.

Voters wait to cast their ballots in the Sept. 14 recall election at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Senior Center. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.

Leon Alexander, 62, of Laguna Beach said he couldn’t wait to vote for the recall after his family’s business Zeytoon Mediterranean Bistro was devastated by state health orders last year that closed indoor dining. They were even prevented from using an upstairs patio with tables six feet apart.

“The big businesses made their money but us little guys couldn’t operate,” Alexander said.

This election was particularly special for Laguna Beach resident Rana Nader because she recently became a U.S. citizen after immigrating 11 years ago. The economic downturn following the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on retailers and other indoor activities has left a lasting impact on her downtown shop, Rana Nader Yoga Boutique.

“It just destroyed everything,” Nader said. “We’re open but we’re still struggling.”

Amid the frustration about the pandemic, homeless crisis, and getting unemployed Californians back to work— Kyla Robinson, 23, of Laguna Beach said she voted against the recall.

“While I don’t agree with everything he says, I think he did a good job enforcing masks,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t until we started opening everything up that Covid started ramping up with the new variant. That’s really scary and I don’t want anyone to lose any more loved ones.”

A Laguna Beach voter dons his “I Voted” sticker after voting in the Sept. 14 recall election. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.
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