Primary Election Returns

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Laguna Beach voters felt the same degree of “Bern” that the rest of Orange County voters were feeling last Tuesday.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders received 21 percent of the vote here and overall in the county. Laguna residents awarded Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton 38 percent of their votes compared to her 26 percent win in Orange County overall.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received 23 percent of Laguna’s votes for President and 31 percent countywide according to the Orange County Registrar’s website.

The top two vote getters in the US Senate race for the retiring Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat were Santa Ana Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and State Attorney General Kamala Harris, who received 1309 and 2420 votes respectively from Laguna voters. Countywide Sanchez had a slim half percent lead over Harris. They will both proceed to the general election in November.

The crowded field of 34 candidates for Boxer’s seat included Laguna Beach resident Paul Merritt, who filed a federal lawsuit in protest over how he was described on the ballot. Merritt, an independent who hoped to capitalize on the momentum of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, was listed on the ballot as no party preference. He received 67 votes from locals.

First time candidate and Laguna Beach resident Ari Grayson, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent state senator John Moorlach from Costa Mesa to represent the 37th District, which spans from Anaheim to Costa Mesa and includes Laguna Beach. Moorlach received 55.4 percent of the Orange County vote while Grayson got 44.6 countywide. The two will face off in the general election in November.

County voters accepted Measure A, which would establish an ethics commission to enforce county campaign finance and ethics rules. While the Voter Information Pamphlet listed no argument against it, in 2013 when the Orange County Grand Jury called for the creation and implementation of an ethics reform program, supervisors opposed the proposal, according to the Grand Jury report.

The following year, a new grand jury came to a similar conclusion and rejected the assertions by supervisors stating that “an ethics body in Orange County would not be bureaucratic, unnecessary, irresponsible, or wasteful,” the 2013-2014 report said.

The report further stated that “The potential cost of an ethics body is outweighed by its potential benefits, including coordinated oversight, transparency, independence, and creating atmosphere of deterrence to law violations and corruption that could contribute to improving overall trust in local government.”

Measure A co-author Shirley Grindle has tracked campaign contributions for nearly 40 years. In 1978 she wrote a campaign finance ordinance establishing contribution limits. “I think the public was always on board” with establishing an ethics commission, said Grindle in an interview.

But past supervisors have not been on board. The last time Grindle tried to get such a measure on the ballot, she said supervisors Patricia Bates and Janet Nguyen opposed it. “I decided to wait till I had a better board,” said Gindle, who received support from all current county supervisors except Michelle Steel from the second district, which includes costal areas from Seal Beach to Newport Beach and inland from Costa Mesa to Buena Park.

Voters overwhelmingly endorsed Measure B requiring a fiscal impact statement for any countywide measure placed on the ballot. It received 74 percent of the vote countywide.

In the 74th State Assembly District, which includes Laguna Beach, incumbent Assemblyman Republican Mathew Harper received 30,591 countywide votes while challenger Karina Onofre got 33,544. They will face off in November.

In the 48th Congressional District, which spans from Seal Beach through Westminster and Mission Viejo to Laguna Niguel, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican from Costa Mesa was challenged once again by Suzanne Savary of Newport Beach. In Laguna Beach it was a close race with the incumbent getting 39 percent of the vote to Savary’s 35 percent. Countywide Rohrabacher won 57 percent of the vote while Savary received 29 percent. They will also face off in the November general election.

Of the town’s 24,000 residents, 15,777 are registered voters, and 41 percent cast ballots on June 7. A tiny majority of 38.2 percent are declared Democrats, compared to 34.8 Republicans and 22.3 are unaffiliated, according to the county registrar.

“The Laguna Beach Democratic Club endorses Measure A,” said President Nick Hernandez in an email leading up to the election. But the Laguna Beach Taxpayers’ Association opposed it because “creating another layer of governmental bureaucracy at $300,000/year to ‘legislate’ ethics is not a good investment of taxpayer’s dollars. LBTA believes in government oversight and responsibility, but we don’t think this is the best vehicle to accomplish that goal,” their president Jennifer Welsh Zeiter said in an email. Sixty percent of Laguna voters approved Measure A, while 59 percent of voters in the county endorsed it as well.


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