California's June 7 Primary: Your Local Election Guide

California’s 2022 Primary Election is just one day away, although people have been voting for the past month. Thanks to the state’s open primaries, voters aren’t limited to candidates from a certain political party. In most races, it works like this: the two candidates with the most votes head to a rematch in November, unless one candidate can garner over 50% of the vote. In that case, they win outright.

What makes this election particularly interesting is redistricting. New maps have shaken up the political landscape in a number of areas, turning safe seats into battlegrounds. And yet – turnout is expected to be low. As of June 5, only 13% of ballots had been returned. 

Below is a list of some of the local elections we’re watching in cities and counties across California. If you have other local races you find interesting, feel free to send us a tip.

Los Angeles County Sheriff

Four years ago, Democrats helped propel Alex Villanueva to victory in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s race. It was a decision the party soon came to regret. Villanueva proved to be a pugnacious leader with little regard for social justice issues or transparency. He has locked horns with the board of supervisors and county watchdogs over deputy gangs, vaccines, and more. He has met each controversy with defiance, digging in his heels, going after critics, and attacking members of the media by name.

Villanueva is finally up for re-election and an entire roster has lined up to try to deny him a second term. There are a total of eight challengers promising to bring reform and professionalism to the office and repair LASD’s broken relationship with county supervisors:

  • Karla Carranza, LASD sergeant
  • Robert Luna, retired Long Beach police chief
  • Cecil Rhambo, LAX Police Chief
  • Matt Rodriguez, retired LASD captain
  • April Saucedo Hood, state parole agent
  • Britta Steinbrenner, retired LASD captain
  • Eric Strong, LASD lieutenant
  • Eli Vera, retired LASD commander

No clear frontrunner has emerged among the eight challengers and the Democratic Party has been unable to coalesce around a single candidate. You can read about each of the candidates here.

Villanueva is banking on support from a different set of voters than the ones who elected him to office the first time. He has reinvented himself as a populist crusader – a “law and order” candidate who is tough on homelessness and crime. Polls show a significant percentage of Angelenos are fed up with encampments and the rise in thefts. We’ll soon learn if Villanueva has found the right formula to tap into that frustration.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors District 3

The most competitive race for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is taking place in District 3. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is not running for re-election. Whoever succeeds her will represent more than two million people in Los Angeles County, making them one of the most powerful electeds in California. The top three contenders are all highly-qualified Democrats:

  • State Senator Henry Stern (D-Malibu)
  • State Senate Majority Leader Robert Herzberg (D-Van Nuys)
  • West Hollywood Councilmember/former mayor Lindsey Horvath

The recently redrawn district now includes more of the San Fernando Valley, a community that has traditionally felt left out by LA’s leadership. That makes the district much more moderate than it once was. Homelessness and crime are the top issues commanding discussion. Read more about the candidates here.

Los Angeles Mayor

This race has gotten plenty of coverage, and there isn’t a whole lot we have to add. Basically, you have a veteran Democratic congresswoman (Karen Bass) trying to avoid a runoff with a billionaire real estate developer who has spent $34 million on the race (Rick Caruso). 

It may very well head to a runoff, but politicos are skeptical Caruso will win in the end.

“When you get to the general, it’s a white businessman who used to be a Republican until 45 minutes ago versus a woman of color who spent her life in progressive politics, all against the backdrop of Roe getting overturned and more reactionary MAGA politics nationally,” Grassrootslab’s Robb Korinke told POLITICO. “That dynamic, making the race more nationalized, more partisan, is going to change things.”

Los Angeles City Council

Residents living in odd districts in the City of Los Angeles will have an opportunity to vote for their representative on the City Council.

District 1

Incumbent “Gil” Cedillo is running for a third term and is facing a challenge from public policy advocate Eunisses Hernandez. She is the director of campaigns and policy and co-founder of La Defensa, a female-led criminal justice reform group. She has extensive experience developing policies around alternatives to incarceration.

District 1 covers all or parts of Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Mount Washington, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Angelino Heights, Temple Beaudry, Chinatown, Downtown, Westlake, Rampart Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Pico Union, University Park, Victor Heights and Koreatown.

District 3

Two candidates are running for District 3, which covers the northwest portion of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

Two-term incumbent Bob Blumenfield was first elected in 2013, previously serving on the State Assembly from 2008-2013. His challenger, businessman Scott Silverstein, has served 14 years as a member of the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council and chaired the Child Development Institute.

District 5

Councilmember Paul Koretz is termed out and running for L.A. City Controller, leaving the position wide open for the four new challengers. This is one of the more competitive and contentious races this cycle.

Candidate Jimmy Biblarz is a law professor at UCLA Law School and graduated from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, Biblarz worked at the LA Public Defender’s office and fought the Trump administration’s immigration policies at Protect Democracy.

Public policy analyst Scott Epstein served as a member of the Mid City West Neighborhood Council for almost 10 years and is the founder of the Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition, a nonprofit that connects the homeless with basic needs, services, and housing.

Sam Yebri is director and co-founder of the non-profit 30 Years After and owns his own law firm. Yebri immigrated to the US from Iran when he was a year old and has advocated for immigrants, refugees, workers, and tenants, while also advising small businesses and startups.

The last candidate in this group is environmental attorney Katy Young Yaroslavsky, the daughter of former District 3 Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. In 2015, she worked as the Senior Policy Director for the Environment and Arts under County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and developed The Safe, Clean Water Program also known as Measure W.

This district covers all or parts of Bel Air-Beverly Crest, Greater Wilshire, Mid City West, Palms, Pico, South Robertson, Westside, and Westwood.

District 7

Incumbent Monica Rodriguez will be running for a second term against newcomer and community advocate Elisa Avalos for the newly drawn District 7. As a councilwoman, Rodriguez developed an approach to shut down illegal cannabis operations with utility cut-offs and created the “Good Neighbor Policy,” which standardized safety and security protocols for homeless shelters. She also established the City’s first Safe Parking site for RVs.

Avalos currently serves as President of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council and has volunteered at Pacoima and San Fernando Relay for Life as well as First 5 LA for ten years. She designed a mentorship program at Pacoima Charter school to help young children engage in volunteer work.

District 7 encompasses Sylmar, Mission Hills, Pacoima, Lake View Terrace, Sunland-Tujunga, North Hills, Shadow Hills and La Tuna Canyon.

District 9

Councilmember Curren Price Jr. is running for a third term but will have to face off against educator Dulce Vasquez. Price Jr. was first elected in 1993 as Councilmember for the City of Inglewood, marking 29 years of public service in various forms.

Originating from Mexico, Dulce Vasquez is an education advocate promoting higher education for low-income and first-generation students. She was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to the El Pueblo/Olvera Street Board of Commissioners.

The “New Ninth” district stretches from the LA Convention Center and the LA Live Complex at the northern edge to the historic communities of Vermont Square to the West, the Central-Alameda Corridor to the East, and Green Meadows to the South.

District 11

Out of all the upcoming district elections, this race is the most competitive. Eight candidates are competing, and the ultimate outcome could have a large impact on the City’s homelessness crisis. Current Councilmember Mike Bonin will not seek re-election, citing health concerns. He leaves behind him a district teeming with homeless encampments.

District 11 is considered to be the wealthiest out of the 15 council districts. It is home to some of the most affluent areas in the City including Brentwood, Del Rey, Ladera, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, West Los Angeles/Sawtelle, and Westchester. Many candidates have been openly critical of the progressive councilman’s empathetic approach to homelessness. For many, this race is considered the battle of the Westside’s soul.

One candidate critical of Bonin’s ‘housing first’ policy is municipal law attorney Traci Park, whose top priority is restoring health and safety to the district’s streets. She supports enforcement of anti-camping laws near schools and wants to keep streets, parks, and neighborhoods clear of encampments. She has also outlined plans to get those experiencing homelessness off the streets and into recovery housing and shelters.

Educator and environmental attorney Allison Holdorff Polhill has also criticized Councilmember Bonin’s stance on encampments. If elected, she says she will immediately enforce the ordinance around schools and parks. Polhill served as chief advisor and district director to then vice president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Nick Melvoin and, during the pandemic, pushed for an equitable distribution of internet access and digital devices to give all students access to virtual instruction.

Businessowner/Planning Attorney Mike Newhouse as well as Medical Delivery Driver Mat Smith both wish to enforce anti-camping laws if elected. Founder of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, Newhouse wants to send notices to those living in encampments to clear out within 30 days and utilize social workers by creating the city’s own health department to help individuals find shelters or designated “safe camping sites.” Smith, an Army veteran running on a conservative platform, believes that the needs of the homeless have been prioritized over the needs of renters, homeowners, and business owners. If elected, he would seek to end permanent supportive housing.

Another candidate frustrated by Bonin’s approach to homelessness is Venice Neighborhood Council President Jim Murez. Similar to fellow neighborhood council member Mike Newhouse, Murez wants to replace encampments with “Transitional Service Centers” which would allow homeless people to camp legally away from residential neighborhoods and commercial zones.

Attorney Greg Good would also enforce the City’s anti-camping ordinance around schools, shelters, and the Ballona Wetlands. Good has experience working for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti as his chief of legislative and external affairs.

Not all the candidates running for the position disagree with Bonin’s ‘housing first’ policy. Civil Rights Attorney Erin Darling wishes to uphold Bonin’s housing first approach and wants to invest in rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing. Darling wishes to increase renter protections in his district and says he was motivated to run by the lack of a progressive candidate in the race.

Rounding out the group is the self-proclaimed ‘anti-imperialist’ candidate Midsanon “Soni” Lloyd, a high school teacher. Her campaign’s main focus is establishing a tax on the City’s billionaires to pay for reparations for Black people and to fund public housing.

District 13

Four candidates are trying to deny incumbent Mitch O’Farrell a third term in District 13. He has faced criticism over the encampment cleanup at Echo Park Lake.

O’Farrell will be facing Labor/Community organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, homelessness policy advisor Kate Pynoos, Community Organizer Albert Corado, and Deputy Sheriff/Educator Steve Johnson.

If elected, Soto-Martinez wishes to create 24-hour drop-in centers to provide services for the unhoused and end police sweeps of homeless individuals. Additionally, Soto-Martinez wishes to replace armed police officers with mental health crisis teams when dealing with non-violent situations.

Kate Pynoos is a member of District 11 Councilman Mike Bonin’s staff. She served as member of the Hollywood Neighborhood Council. While working under Bonin, Pynoos helped develop a full ban on evictions during the pandemic and a ban on campaign contributions from developers with business before the city. Additionally, she helped move DWP to 100% renewable energy. 

Albert Corado is mainly running on a ‘defund the police’ platform after his younger sister was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers at a Trader Joe’s in 2018. Corado wishes to increase police oversight and transparency and would divert police budget funds to mental health services, transportation, and expanding green spaces.

The last candidate, Steve Johnson, has worked for 13 years for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and is an Air Force Vet who participated in several well-known military campaigns, including Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. Johnson’s main focus is his SAFE Street Initiative plan which calls for secure neighborhoods through community policing, affordable housing developments, friendship alliances among L.A.’s diverse ethnic and LGTBQ+ communities, and ethical leadership.

District 13 includes all or some of the following communities: Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Larchmont Village, Little Armenia, Melrose Hill, Rampart Village, Ridgewood-Wilton, Silver Lake, Spaulding Square, St. Andrews Square, Sunset Square, Thai Town, Verdugo Village, Virgil Village, Western-Wilton, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Windsor Square.

District 15

With Councilmember Joe Buscaino terming out, four candidates are going all in for this wide-open seat. District 15 encompasses Watts, San Pedro, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, and Wilmington. It is home to the port of Los Angeles, and all candidates cite air pollution and poor water quality among their key issues.

Tim McOsker, CEO of non-profit AltaSea, wants to advance the use of green technology to clean up the Port’s air quality.

Member of the Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Council and climate justice activist with the L.A. Chapter of the Sunrise Movement, Bryant Odega, wants to commit to the Green New Deal and the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge. Additionally, Odega wants to give Angelenos cleaner air by phasing out unused oil wells and create a 2,500 foot buffer zone between oil wells and homes, schools, and daycare centers.

Danielle Sandoval is another member of the Harbor City Neighborhood Council. Sandoval served as President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Federated Auxiliary 8 and is focused on expanding workforce development programs. She believes in investing in clean vehicle technology as well as preserving high paying jobs through unionized green industries such as wind, solar, and alternative clean fuels that are human-driven.

Los Angeles City Attorney

Mike Feuer is leaving the scandal-plagued City Attorney’s Office that he’s presided over for the past nine years. There are seven attorneys vying to replace him:

  • Hydee Feldstein Soto
  • Faisal M. Gill
  • Kevin James
  • Teddy Kapur
  • Richard Kim
  • Marina Torres
  • Sherri Onica Valle Cole

Feldstein Soto touts her independence from City Hall. She wants to root out corruption and end no-bid contracts, which she says would slash the cost of homeless housing by 90%. She’s been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, BizFed PAC, and numerous Democratic clubs.  

Kevin James and Faisal M. Gill are both former Republicans and they’ve spent some time trying to defend their old records. Gill is advocating for police reform, criminal justice reform, and wants to address housing and homelessness. He has the backing of Rep. Karen Bass. James, who previously worked for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, wants to create a number of new units within the department, including an environmental affairs and immigrant affairs unit. He is endorsed by Garcetti.

Teddy Kapur also cites homelessness and affordable housing as the city’s top issue. He has been endorsed by a number of elected officials, including California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo.

Marina Torres touts her work as a federal prosecutor. She’s been endorsed by several members of Congress and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  

Richard Kim is focused on corruption as well as public safety. He has publicly called for the recall of the county’s district attorney George Gascon.

Cole is a former LA deputy city attorney who was fired in 2018. She claims the termination was retaliatory. She’s also vowing to root out the wrongdoing she says she witnessed firsthand at the LA City Attorney’s Office.

Read more about each of the candidates here.

Los Angeles Controller

City Controller races don’t usually offer much in terms of intrigue, but this race has suddenly gotten very interesting.

On June 3, Los Angeles Magazine reported that one of the race's frontrunners, Kenneth Mejia, who has made his work as a CPA central to his campaign, has had an invalid license for years and only renewed it in January. 

That’s not all. 

Tweets have resurfaced in which Mejia called Pres. Joe Biden “a rapist & racist.”

But wait. There’s even more.

Staffers of Mejia have been accused of leading the disruptions of several LA Mayoral candidate forums this year. His campaign consultant Steven Chun got into a physical altercation with Councilman Kevin De León, which was captured on video. You can watch it here.

Mejia is relatively young at 31 years old. He’s an outsider candidate and member of the Green Party who was able to rise to frontrunner status with social media and some coveted endorsements. His other challengers are Bureau of Street Services CFO Stephanie Clements; CD5 Councilman Paul Koretz; Reid Lidow, former Executive Officer for Mayor Eric Garcetti; educator J. Carolan O'Gabhann; and CFO/Auditor/Attorney David T. Vahedi.

The stakes are high in this election. LA’s Controller acts as watchdog over city finances. Given the recent scandals at City Hall, many are hesitant to put a former councilman in this position. Those who want a City Hall outsider will probably gravitate towards Mejia, Clements or Vahedi, who ran and lost to Koretz in a 2009 council race. Vahedi once worked as an auditor for the state’s Board of Equalization. He says any no-bid contract that exceeds $500,000 should go through an additional review. Clements has gone further. She wants a review of every no-bid contract awarded over the past five years. 

Long Beach Mayor

Current Mayor Robert Garcia is running for Congress to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Alan Lowenthal. There are six candidates running to replace him as Mayor, with Long Beach Councilmembers Suzie Price from the 3rd District and Rex Richardson from the 9th District leading the race.

Price is backed by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, BizFed PAC, and the Long Beach Police Officers Association. She is running to promote public safety, grow the economy, and reduce homelessness.

Richardson is backed by Democrats, environmental groups, labor organizations, and countless city, county, state, and federal leaders and is running to promote public safety, recover the economy, invest in clean air and water, and reduce homelessness and housing vulnerability through his initiative The H.O.P.E. Plan.

Richardson is expected to perform better among younger progressive voters. Price is expected to perform better among older conservative voters. Both have been very successful at fundraising, each surpassing $500k, out-raising Garcia in his run for Long Beach Mayor in 2014. 

Long Beach City Council

There are five City Council seats up for election, with 23 candidates seeking election to the Council (4 to 5 candidates per race). 

District 1

Mary Zendejas is running for re-election in the 1st District. She is backed by Democrats and labor organizations. Her challengers include Steven Estrada, who is running as a political outsider, and Lee Charley, Air Force Veteran and lawyer. 

District 3

Councilmember Suzie Price is not running for re-election to the 3rd District, instead taking a shot at Mayor. There are several candidates in the race to replace her.

Nima Novin is a business and community leader and CSULB professor backed by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. He's running to promote public safety, the economy, and education. 

Mark Guillen is a recognized business and community leader. Backed by BizFed PAC and labor unions, he is running to combat homelessness, improve public safety, and strengthen small businesses.

Deborah Castro is a business owner running to take on homelessness and promote public safety.

Kristina Duggan, staffer to Councilwoman Suzie Price, is running to take on homelessness. 

District 5

Stacy Mungo isn’t seeking re-election either, thanks to redistricting. Candidate Megan Kerr is backed by the Long Beach Chamber, Long Beach Police and Fire, Democrats, labor, business, women’s groups and elected and community leaders. She is running to address concerns around housing, public safety, and the environment. Also running is political consultant Ian Patton, who is backed by community leaders. His platform is improving the district’s economy. 

District 7

Roberto Urunga, who is running for re-election to the 9th District, does so following controversy over animal abuse accusations. Carlos S. Ovalle is running to take on homelessness and promote public safety and the environment. 

District 9

This district is currently held by Rex Richardson, who is running for mayor. Dr. Joni Rick-Oddie is backed by Democrats, labor, women’s groups, and elected leaders. Rick-Oddie is running to take on homelessness, promote small businesses, and invest in community parks, public health, and public safety. Raul Nario is running for general improvements in the city.

Torrance Mayor 

Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey is ending his second term. Current 2nd District Councilmember George Chen and former Councilmember and current El Camino College Board Member Cliff Numark are leading the race to succeed him.

Numark is running to promote economic development, strengthen city services, invest in schools, promote public safety, and address homelessness. He is backed by the Torrance Chamber of Commerce, BizFed PAC, the South Bay Association of Realtors, Torrance Police and Fire, and City and School Board leaders.

Chen is running to promote economic development and public safety, strengthen city services, and expand the City’s parks and community spaces. He is backed by former elected community leaders. 

San Bernardino County Sheriff

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus was appointed on July 14, 2021 following the early retirement of John McMahon. Now Dicus is running for the chance at a full term. Retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Clifton Harris is opposing Dicus with backing from the San Bernardino County Democratic Party and other Democratic groups. Harris, an African American, says he wants to improve SBSD’s relationship with the communities it serves. Dicus has a long line of endorsements, including the former sheriff and a number of law enforcement associations.

San Bernardino Supervisors Districts 2 & 4

If Democrats want to flip the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, they need to win District 2. Incumbent Republican Janice Rutherford is termed out and there are five candidates running. Three of them are conservative candidates, which is going to split the right-leaning vote. Right now, the race appears to be heading for a runoff between nurse Dejonae Shaw, a Democrat, and Fontana Councilman Jesse Armendarez, a Republican.

In District 4, incumbent Curt Hagman is fending off a re-election challenge from Senator Connie Leyva. 

San Bernardino Mayor

Embattled San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia is running for a second term. He has six challengers:

  • Workforce Development Analyst Henry Gomez Nickel
  • Independent Contractor Gabriel Jaramillo
  • CEO Mohammad Khan
  • California State University Professor Treasure Ortiz
  • Former San Bernardino City Attorney James F. Penman
  • Businesswoman Helen Tran

An investigation commissioned by the City Council and conducted by a law firm last year concluded that Valdivia improperly billed the city for several trips along with invitations to a private event. He was later censured by the city council

Riverside County Supervisor District 5

This is another race that could flip the balance of power. The state of play has been heavily impacted by redistricting, which traded the cities of Menifee and Perris for San Jacinto and Hemet.

Incumbent Jeff Hewitt now finds himself defending a lot of new territory in District 5. And Beaumont Mayor Lloyd White’s candidacy has made it harder by splitting the more conservative vote. There’s now an opening for Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez to force Hewitt into a November runoff. 

Riverside County District Attorney

Mike Hestrin is running for a third term as Riverside County’s top prosecutor. His opponents are appellate attorney Lara Gressley and Judge Burke Strunsky.

This is Gressley’s second try. Hestrin defeated her in 2018. She has said she wishes “to end overzealous prosecution,” noting the problem of overcrowded jails. She was recently endorsed by the Press-Enterprise.

Strunsky has a star-studded list of endorsements that include Governor Gavin Newsom, Congressman Mark Takano, Planned Parenthood, and the Inland Empire Labor Council. He has vowed to increase public safety, bring justice and equity to all communities, and run a more transparent and accountable District Attorney’s Office.

Riverside County Sheriff

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco is facing a re-election challenge from retired Sheriff's Capt. Michael Lujan. Bianco has been at the center of controversy. Last year, it was revealed that he had previously been a dues-paying member of the Oath Keepers, an extremist group with ties to the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. Recently, Bianco also signed a petition demanding the county stop using Dominion voting machines — the bogeyman in a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2020 election. His office has faced scrutiny over alleged racist policing, inmate jail deaths, and improper use of federal COVID relief funds.

Orange County District Attorney

District Attorney Todd Spitzer is facing a tough re-election battle. A number of controversies have made Spitzer vulnerable in this purpling county. These include racist remarks and video of him using the N-word while quoting a defendant in a hate crime case. There is also a crisis of confidence in the office amid revelations that prosecutors have failed to hand over exculpatory evidence in numerous cases.

Spitzer has three challengers:

  • Attorney/Business Owner Pete Hardin
  • Former Orange County prosecutor Mike Jacobs
  • U.S. Department of Justice Attorney Bryan Chehock

Hardin, a Democrat and Marine Corps veteran, is the leading contender. He has vowed to end cash bail, stop charging juveniles as adults, and not seek the death penalty. Those policies have led to a recall effort against the district attorney in neighboring LA County. Will they be a bridge too far for the OC? 

Orange County Board of Supervisors

District 2

Orange County’s approved redistricting maps cut District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley’s residence out of the new, heavily Democratic 2nd District. She’s running in District 5.

In District 2, two Democrats are vying against two Republicans plus an independent. The Republicans are Orange Councilman Jon Dumitru and former Santa Ana City Councilwoman Cecilia Iglesias. The Democrats are Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen. The independent is former Santa Ana Councilman Juan Villegas. He dumped his Republican Party registration in 2016.

You can read the candidates’ answers to a series of questions at Voice of OC.

District 4

Supervisor Doug Chaffee, a Democrat, is up for re-election in the heavily Democratic 4th District and he’s facing a challenge from the Democratic Party’s left flank. This time, Orange County’s Democratic Party opted to support a challenger, Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park. He criticizes Chaffee for too often voting with his conservative colleagues. Brea Councilman Steven Vargas is another contender in the race, endorsed by Republicans. 

District 5

This is by far the most consequential election in Orange County. District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley, a Democrat, is facing off against three Republicans challengers here: former State Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, State Sen. Pat Bates, and Newport Beach Councilman Kevin Muldoon.

The outcome of this race will determine whether Democrats or Republicans hold a majority on the Board of Supervisors come next January. If Foley ultimately wins this seat, the balance of power would shift to Dems for the first time in more than two decades.  

San Diego County Sheriff

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is retiring, resulting in a wide-open race. Undersheriff Kelly Martinez is Gore’s preferred candidate. She also has support from the majority of county supervisors. If elected, she would be San Diego’s first female sheriff.

Martinez’s leading contender is Dave Myers, a retired sheriff’s commander who ran unsuccessfully in 2018. He has been endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party and five members of the San Diego City Council. Myers’ campaign is largely focused on the inordinate amount of inmate deaths that have occurred in San Diego County jails. Since 2009, over 150 inmates have died in custody. The county has the highest jail mortality rate among California’s largest counties.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 4

San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher is up for re-election in District 4 and Republicans are trying to make an example out of him. ReOpen San Diego co-founder Amy Reichert, a Republican, is the leading contender. She has made the county’s COVID-19 policy the centerpiece of her campaign. Reichert fought for the reopening of schools and businesses during the pandemic. Fletcher, a Democrat, has been the face of cautionary COVID-19 policy in San Diego and has been a frequent target of threats and incendiary language at county meetings. 

San Diego City Council District 2

There are four council seats on San Diego’s ballot. One of the most competitive races is City Council District 2, which covers Claremont, Mission Beach, and Point Loma. Dr. Jennifer Campbell, the incumbent, faces five challengers:

  • Public policy educator Joel Day
  • Community volunteer Mandy Havlik
  • Dentist and professor Linda Lukacs
  • Retired professor and former Assemblymember Lori Saldaña
  • Landlord and real estate salesman Daniel Smiechowski

Campbell’s critics say she has been too lenient on short-term rentals. They have also slammed her support for a ballot measure to allow developers to exceed the 30-feet height limit in the Midway area.

A previous recall attempt against Campbell failed to garner enough signatures, but Campbell clearly has vulnerabilities, especially with the NIMBY crowd. Campbell has received high-profile endorsements from Sen. Toni Atkins, Mayor Todd Gloria, and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, among others.

Aside from short-term housing, some of the biggest issues facing the next representative of District 2 include redevelopment of the city-owned sports arena property in the midway district and an update to the Claremont Community Plan. Read more about the District 2 race and the others — Districts 4, 6 and 8 — here

Chula Vista Mayor

There are six candidates vying to replace termed-out Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas:

  • Former US Dept. Of Labor official Ammar Campa-Najjar
  • Retired Army Major Spencer Cash
  • Southwestern College Chief of Staff Zaneta Encarnacion
  • City Council Member Jill Galvez
  • City Council Member and Iraq Army veteran John McCann
  • Small business owner and former City Council Member Rudy Ramirez

City finances are a big factor in this race. San Diego County’s second largest city is facing a structural deficit that’s projected to grow to $12 million in the coming years. Though they differ in their approaches, all six candidates agree on the need to attract businesses to Chula Vista and improve the tax base. Another major issue is a plan to bring a four-year university to the city. The plan has been in the works for decades with little progress.

Loads of money have poured into this race, including from big donors outside the city. That has some candidates crying foul. The largest amount of outside expenditures have gone to Campa-Najjar.

Encarnacion has received the Democratic Party’s endorsement. Najjar, who is also a Democrat, has support from a number of organized labor groups. McCann, a Republican, has been endorsed by the Chula Vista Police Officers Association.

San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors

The landscape in San Luis Obispo County has shifted dramatically thanks to redistricting. Board of Supervisors District 2, which was once reliably blue, is now a toss-up district, and incumbent Bruce Gibson is facing a fierce re-election fight. Gibson, a Democrat, bills himself as a pragmatist, but he criticizes Republicans for the "assault on our local democratic institutions." His top challenger is Geoff Auslen, a conservative and small business owner. Auslen advocates business-friendly policies, increased public safety, and investment in alternative water sources such as desalination.

In the 3rd and 4th Districts, Dawn Ortiz-Legg and Lynn Compton are also fighting for political survival. Ortiz-Legg was appointed to the seat by Gavin Newsom following the death of Adam Hill. Ortiz-Legg considers herself to be a moderate leader. She contrasts that with her opponent Stacy Korsgaden who attended Donald Trump’s rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6, which preceded the insurrection. Ortiz-Legg has called Korsgaden’s views “radical.” Korsgaden is endorsed by the local Republican Party.

District 4 is a re-election fight featuring incumbent Lynn Compton, a registered Republican, and Arroyo Grande City Councilmember Jimmy Paulding, a Democrat. He ran and lost against Compton in 2018 by just 61 votes. He has also spoken up about Republican attacks on election integrity and the failure to defend former San Luis Obispo election official Tommy Gong from right-wing attacks. Read more about the races and candidates here.

Monterey County Sheriff

Embattled Monterey County Sheriff Steve Bernal is not seeking re-election. Four people are running to replace him:

  • Del Rey Oaks Police Chief Jeffery James Hoyne
  • Monterey Sheriff’s Captain Joe Moses
  • Marina Police Chief Tina Nieto 
  • Monterey County Deputy Sheriff Justin Patterson

The Monterey Weekly describes them as “an eclectic cast of candidates.”  Moses, a confidante of Bernal, is the subject of a defamation suit connected to Bernal’s 2018 re-election campaign. He suffered a major legal setback in the case in April.

If elected, Nieto would be the first woman, first Hispanic, and first openly LGBTQ sheriff in Monterey County history. She is endorsed by the local Democratic Party.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is under fire over numerous inmate deaths at its county jails. You can read more about the jail death controversy here.  

San Francisco District Attorney Recall

One of the country’s most polarizing district attorneys, Chesa Boudin, could be pushed out of office on Tuesday via San Francisco’s Measure H (see the list of other local ballot measures we’re watching below). This is a race with national implications. It could be a bellwether in determining whether the public thinks progressives have gone too far with criminal justice reform. It will be watched closely in Los Angeles County where a similar recall effort against District Attorney George Gascon is underway.

Boudin – the son of Weather Underground activists, who spent his career defending people instead of putting them behind bars – assumed office in November of 2020. It was a watershed moment for progressives. He promised to hold police accountable while ending cash bail and prosecutions for low-level crimes. But like many cities, San Francisco is now experiencing an uptick in crime. Burglaries spiked 50% in 2020 and data show that criminal convictions have plummeted under Boudin. Businesses have pulled out of the city, citing rampant theft. Crime is one of the top reasons residents have cited when leaving. There is a sense among many that San Francisco has become lawless – a sort of real-life Gotham.

While Boudin is accused of letting criminals run amok, he’s also accused of concealing evidence in order to get police officers convicted of crimes. A DA investigator has testified that she was pressured to remove exculpatory evidence from the arrest warrant for a police officer accused of excessive force. She says she was threatened with termination if she did not comply.

Boudin cites various statistics to refute the idea that San Francisco is experiencing an aberrant crime wave and a lack of criminal justice. He says he’s been targeted by the far right and portrays the recall as a campaign led by right-wing provocateurs like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Polls, however, show broad support for the recall – much like the broad support that ousted three progressive members of the school board in February. If the polling is accurate, Boudin is a goner on Tuesday.

Alameda County District Attorney

The race for District Attorney is arguably the most interesting race in Alameda County. Pamela Price, Seth Steward, Terry Wiley, and Jimmie Wilson want to succeed Nancy O’Malley, who is retiring as the county’s top prosecutor.

Price, a criminal defense attorney, is the most progressive of the four. She ran and lost against O’Malley in 2018. Her campaign is focused on restorative justice and transparency. The role of the DA should be “to administer justice in a way that is fair and appropriate for the community,” she told Oaklandside. She wants more answers about police shootings and potential conflicts of interest within the DA’s office. She has called for expanding diversion programs and the office’s integrity unit to examine allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Seth Steward is chief of staff to Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, who also has a background as a prosecutor. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public policy from Occidental College, a masters in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a law degree from George Washington University Law School. Steward says his background working in both criminal law and legislative affairs sets him apart from his challengers. He says he helped Councilman Kalb draft legislation banning police chokeholds and also helped the councilman pass a ban on ghost guns.

Terry Wiley is chief deputy district attorney for the Alameda DA’s office. He is touting his experience, having worked at the DA for 32 years. In 2013, Wiley headed the juvenile division and oversaw the creation of its restorative justice program. He also helped local businesses fight the zero bail policy. He is focused on reducing crime in Alameda.

Wiley is endorsed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Congressman Eric Swalwell, and numerous labor unions including the Alameda County Prosecutors’ Association. Like Wylie, Jimmie Wilson is a prosecutor who is concerned about crime in Alameda. He has worked for the Alameda DA since 2004. He has called for the return of the DA’s gang unit and a countywide violence reduction task force. He also wants to see more diversity in the DA’s office. Wilson has the support of a number of current and former prosecutors, members of the local NAACP, and unions that represent police across the East Bay.

Read more about all four candidates here.

Santa Clara Board of Supervisors

One of the most competitive races in Santa Clara County is for District 1 Supervisor. This election could flip the seat, which has been in conservative hands since 1997. It’s an open seat because Supervisor Mike Wasserman is blocked by term limits.

The district’s new boundary lines omit some of the county’s more conservative areas and give more voting power to San Jose, which gives progressives a big advantage here. Five candidates are running.

San Jose Councilmember Sylvia Arenas, a Democrat, has support from several council members and a dual endorsement from the South Bay Labor Council (also supporting Claudia Rossi).

Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, a Democrat, is also a former firefighter and veteran who has served on the Santa Clara Valley Water Commission, Santa Clara Habitat Conservation Agency and VTA board. He has the backing of Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and former Congressman Mike Honda.

Denelle Fedor is the only Republican in the race. She’s a case manager at San Jose nonprofit LifeSTEPS and has served as chief of staff for former San Jose Councilmember and current Planning Commissioner Pierluigi Oliverio.

Former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis is also running for the seat. He's politically independent and has support from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, former Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage, the Taxpayers Association of Silicon Valley, The Mercury News, and numerous police chiefs.

Finally, there’s educator Claudia Rossi, another Democrat. She has the support of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Otto Lee, former supervisor turned State Senator Dave Cortese, and former State Senator Jim Beall.

Read more about the candidates and their priorities here.

Santa Clara County Sheriff

With Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith declining to seek re-election, this is the first time in 20 years that an incumbent won’t be running to lead the sheriff’s department. Five candidates are competing to succeed Smith:

  • Sean Allen, a 32-year veteran and sergeant of the sheriff's department
  • Businesswoman Anh T. Colton
  • Kevin Jensen, a retired captain with the sheriff’s department
  • Palo Alto Chief of Police Bob Jonsen
  • Christine Nagaye, a sergeant in the sheriff’s department

Allen has an interesting background, having been wrongly accused of a crime when he was 19. He would be Santa Clara County's first Black sheriff.

Jensen worked in the Sheriff’s office for more than 29 years and ran against Sheriff Smith in 2014. He has earned major endorsements from the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs' Association, Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers' Association, retired Palo Alto police Chief Dennis Burns and others.

Jonsen has been in law enforcement for 36 years and spent 27 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He has been endorsed by a number of police chiefs and other top law enforcement leaders.

Nagaye is an Army veteran and mother of three who has been with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department for two decades. She has been endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley.

The next sheriff of Santa Clara Will inherit a department in turmoil. Under Laurie Smith, department leaders have been accused of corruption, bribery and excessive use of force. Numerous inmates have been injured in county jails and three jail guards were convicted of murdering an inmate in 2019. The department is currently under investigation by the Attorney General for alleged civil rights violations.

Read about each of the candidates’ priorities and their ideas for reforming the county jail system here.

San Jose Mayor

Several candidates are running to replace termed-out Mayor Sam Liccardo in San Jose. This is shaping up to be one of the most expensive races in city history with over $2.2 million spent between the candidates so far.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is the top spender, followed by San Jose City Councilmember Matt Mahan, San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez, San Jose City Councilmember Dev Davis, and retired San Jose police officer James Spence.

Chavez is considered the frontrunner, having scored the Sacramento County Democratic Party’s endorsement, as well as endorsements from reps Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, former congressman Mike Honda and the late former congressman Norm Mineta.

Sam Liccardo has not endorsed anyone in the race, but a PAC he set up has funneled $230,000 to Matt Mahan. Liccardo has been criticized for “election meddling.” 

Spence has ignited controversy by calling for the city to stop spending money on the homeless and to stand up against the county’s public health officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Watch the candidates discuss their stance on key issues in San Jose here.

San Jose City Council

San Jose City Council Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 are all on the ballot and some of the races have gotten ugly. Pam Foley is running without a challenger in District 9.

In District 1, the candidates are:

  • Ambassadors Program Manager Ramona Arellano Snyder (endorsed by Santa Clara GOP)
  • Paratransit operator Tim Gildersleeve
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education Trustee Rosemary Kamei (endorsed by Santa Clara Democrats)

In District 3, the candidates are:

  • Attorney Elizabeth Chien-Hale
  • Attorney Joanna Rauh (endorsed by Liccardo’s PAC)
  • Educator and author Irene Smith (endorsed by Santa Clara GOP)
  • Healthcare professional and political organizer Ivan Torres
  • San José-Evergreen Community College District Board of Education Trustee Omar Torres (endorsed by Santa Clara Democrats)

In District 5, the candidates are:

  • San Jose Planning Commissioner Rolando Bonilla
  • Former Assemblywoman Nora Campos
  • District 4 Senior Council Assistant HG Nguyen
  • Education leader Peter Ortiz (endorsed by Santa Clara Democrats)
  • Alum Rock Union School District Board President Andres Quniteros

In District 7, the candidates are:

  • Incumbent Maya Esparza (endorsed by Santa Clara Democrats)
  • Fire Captain Bien Doan (endorsed by Liccardo’s PAC and Santa Clara GOP)
  • East Side Union High School Board Member Van Le

Sacramento County Sheriff

Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones is running for Congress and there is a competitive race to replace him as sheriff. Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) is running again after vying unsuccessfully in 2010 when he was defeated by Jones. Cooper has a background in law enforcement, having served in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years before entering politics.

Cooper’s opponent is Jim Barnes, who currently serves as Undersheriff. Barnes is a Republican and he has the public backing of the sitting sheriff Scott Jones. He believes Cooper’s hiatus from law enforcement is a liability, given how much technology has changed.

Sacramento City Council District 1

In the City of Sacramento, all eyes are on Council District 1. Angelique Ashby, who was first elected in 2010 and currently serves as vice mayor, is running for the California Senate. Four candidates are running to replace her:

  • Natomas Chamber of Commerce President Alyssa Lazano
  • Natomas Unified School District Trustee Lisa Kaplan
  • Nate Pelzcar, financial accountability manager at the environmental nonprofit California Product Stewardship Council and a member of the Stonewall Foundation of Greater Sacramento
  • Crest Theater Vice President Robert Alvis

Council District 1 has changed as a result of redistricting. The Natomas Crossing neighborhood was shifted to District 3 and the rest of South Natomas, as well as the neighborhoods west of Robla, are now in District 1. For the first time, there will be two Council districts representing parts of Natomas. Major political issues in D1 include public safety, homelessness and housing.

Ashby’s preferred successor is Nate Pelczar. He has also racked up endorsements from labor leaders and politicians like Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). The Sacramento Bee has endorsed Kaplan, calling her “the clear choice for the job.”

Lazano received an endorsement from former Democratic state lawmaker Deborah Ortiz.

Placer County Sheriff

Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell is retiring for health reasons and there are two candidates competing to be his successor: Undersheriff Wayne Woo and current administrative sergeant Brandon Bean.

Bell wants Woo to succeed him and he’s been accused of using private information on concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit holders to get out the vote for Woo. (Woo says he had nothing to do with that and that the CCW information was public.)

That’s not the only controversy in the race. Bean has been accused of making inappropriate statements to a former deputy who has filed a sexual harassment and wrongful termination suit against the department.

Bean is endorsed by a number of law enforcement unions, including the Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Sacramento Police Officers Association.

Shasta County’s Dance With the Far Right

Emboldened by the militia-backed recall of Supervisor Leonard Moty earlier this year, far right activists are continuing the takeover of Shasta County politics. They’re doing it with the help of the far right “Liberty Committee,” which is backing six candidates in Tuesday’s election:

  • Kevin Crye, candidate for District 1 Supervisor
  • Chris Kelstrom, candidate for District 5 Supervisor
  • Erik Jensen, candidate for District Attorney
  • John Greene, candidate for Sheriff
  • Bryan Caples, candidate for County Superintendent of Schools
  • Bob Holsinger, candidate for County Clerk/Registrar

In almost all cases, these candidates are challenging lifelong Republicans who have spent their careers championing conservative values. The Liberty Committee is part of the more militant new right. Its website declares America is a country “under assault” and must be taken back one city and county at a time.

The PAC has received nearly $1 million from Reverge Anselmo, a Connecticut-based heir of a billionaire with outspoken misogynist views. Anselmo also bankrolled Moty’s recall. Perhaps unsurprisingly, all of the candidates the Liberty Committee supports are male and a number of the incumbents they’re challenging are female.

Ballot Measures

There are some interesting local measures to watch as well. Here are some of the proposals we’re looking at:

  • San Francisco Prop C would change the recall rules in San Francisco, making it much harder to boot elected officials from office.
  • San Francisco Prop E is a response to some of the recent corruption scandals at City Hall. It would ban public officials from seeking any donations from contractors seeking to do business with the city.
  • San Francisco Prop H would recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin (discussed above).
  • Beverly Hills Measure TL would impose term limits on elected officials in the city. The measure, which would end up barring three sitting council members from seeking reelection, is likely to face a court challenge if it passes. 
  • Lynwood Measure R would extend Council member term limits to three consecutive terms. The measure would set back the clock and allow anyone who has previously served to run for another three terms.
  • Monrovia Measure RM would eliminate elections for the mayor and establish a rotation of city council members to fill the offices of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore.
  • St. Helena Measure G would also eliminate elections for mayor and make it a rotating position of appointment.
  • Santa Clara Measure D would make Santa Clara one of the latest cities to abandon at-large voting and adopt district-based elections.
  • Santa Cruz Measure E would also establish district elections for the Santa Cruz City Council instead of the current at-large system. The mayor would be directly elected to a four-year term.

This article has been updated. 



Monday, January 29, 2024 - 11:03

A state appeals court has upheld a decision by the Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association (VCERA) prohibiting leave cashouts that “straddle” calendar years — a practice that has resulted