The 2020 General Election brought many new changes to California, and especially to Irvine. As of Nov. 9, Irvine voters selected a new mayor-elect and while the City Council race remains neck-and-neck, there are sure to be new faces as well as familiar faces on the council when the dust settles. With several races still too close to call at the state and local level, this election recap will help you keep track of all the changes to come.
As results were released on election night, current Irvine City Council member and candidate for mayor, Farrah Khan, quickly jumped out to a double-digit percentage lead over incumbent Mayor Christina Shea.
Khan took a 52 percent to 32 percent lead, and while Shea closed the gap into Wednesday, Khan managed to emerge victorious in Irvine.
On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Shea announced that she conceded the election to Khan. In an exclusive text Irvine Mayor Christina Shea shared with Irvine Weekly, Shea said she sent a text to Khan:
“Farrah, Congratulations. I wish you my best in the years ahead! You are always welcome to call me if you need support or help! My best, Christina.”
In a statement through social media, Khan thanked her supporters in Irvine, on the evening of Nov. 4.
“Thank you to the residents of Irvine who have put their faith in my leadership. I am excited to get to work as your next mayor. Together, we will ensure we continue to protect our great city’s quality of life, build back our economy, and restore transparency in local government,” Khan wrote in a series of tweets. “Even if I didn’t earn your vote, I look forward to serving as a mayor for all Irvine residents! Lastly, I would like to thank Mayor Christina Shea for her decades of service to Irvine and her gracious words of encouragement as we transition.”
With Khan’s mayoral win, her seat on the Irvine City Council will be vacated once she’s sworn into her new office, which opened a third seat on the City Council.
However, even with the additional seat in play, the race was still close post-election night. In fact, there was a difference of less than 1,000 votes separating second place and fourth candidates on Friday, Nov. 6.
Irvine City Council candidate Tammy Kim, founder and managing director of the Korean American Center, currently leads all Irvine City Council candidates with 42,896 votes (14.89%), followed by current Vice Mayor and Irvine City Council candidate Mike Carroll with 37,607 (13.05%).
In an interview with Irvine Weekly, Kim explained that her campaign worked hard targeting multicultural groups, in a variety of languages.
“Our campaign was reaching out to people in Chinese, in Mandarin, both simplified, as well as traditional, as well as Korean, and Vietnamese — we reached out to all of them.”
Kim spoke about her election night experience, and said she was excited to learn she received more votes than any other candidate in Irvine history. Kim, who is a first-time candidate, pointed to her fundraising, which exceeded $70,000, credited multiple democratic endorsements, and the ability to campaign in different languages, as the keys to her success among voters in Irvine.
“I’m still in complete surprise. I think the voters spoke loud and clear. It’s amazing to be the highest vote-getter in Irvine history. As a first-time candidate, I was able to get really key strategic endorsements, ranging from Katie Porter to our State Controller Betty Yee, to [Congresswoman] Judy Chu,” Kim said Thursday, Nov. 5, during a phone call with Irvine Weekly.
By that evening, Kim had surpassed 40,000 votes in Irvine.
The Irvine City Council race remained close through the weekend after election night, with Larry Agran, a former Irvine mayor and councilmember, trailing Kim by a few thousand votes.
In a phone call with Irvine Weekly on Nov. 5, Agran expressed happiness for the current Irvine election results. He added that while his election night experience was much different than years before, due to COVID-19, he was pleased with his initial position in the polls.
“It’s clear to me that the people of the city of Irvine decided to elect a new mayor and a new City Council, and I’m happy to be a part of that,” Agran said of his second place position. “It was a good feeling. I’m looking forward to returning to the council.”
While Agran is still on track to return to the Irvine City Council, he has slipped down to third place, behind Carroll.
As of Monday, Nov. 9, Carroll’s campaign had surpassed both Larry Agran’s and Lauren Johnson-Norris’ campaigns votes with 37,607 (13.05%).
Carroll has expressed optimism about his chances to continue serving on the Irvine City Council and added that he did not foresee a third seat opening up.
“I think it’s gone really well, I’m not here to declare that we won, but I’m optimistic that when the count is finished, that we will come out ahead,” Carroll said on Thursday, Nov. 5, during a phone call with Irvine Weekly. “I was really surprised that it looks like we’ll have three seats open. It’s definitely a new fact that we have to take into account, and it provides another opportunity for me to try and continue to serve on the City Council.”
As Carroll’s began to climb the polls over the weekend, the returns began to look unfavorable for lawyer and Irvine City Council Candidate Johnson-Norris. In a Facebook post, on Sunday, Nov. 8, Johnson-Norris remained optimistic.
“Good morning everyone! While we celebrated a great victory on the national stage last night, here in Irvine the returns from yesterday bumped our campaign out of the top 3. As there are still more ballots to count and ballots to cure, we hope we will be able to come back again. Looks like anything could happen. Thank you for your support,” she wrote.
Johnson-Norris was still out of the top three candidates at the time of this report.
As of Nov. 11, the County Registrar of Voters reported that there were approximately 19,000 ballots still to be counted county-wide. The Registrar also reported that 100 percent of precincts in Orange County are fully reported and Early Voting Ballots are complete.
Outside of the local races in Irvine, voters had the opportunity to vote in a Congressional election, a state Senate race and two state Assembly races.
In the battle for the 45th Congressional District, which includes Irvine, Villa Park, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest and North Tustin, first-term Democratic Representative Katie Porter beat out her challenger, Republican Mission Viejo City Councilman Greg Raths.
In the 37th District of the state Senate, there was more Democratic success for first-time Democratic candidate, Irvine resident and UC Irvine law professor, Dave Min. Min leads career politician and Republican John Moorlach by about 3 percent of the vote.
In California State Assembly District 68, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox lost to Republican incumbent Assemblyman Steven Choi by more than 10,000 votes.
And in Assembly District 74, which covers portions of Irvine, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach, incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris leads Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon in a close race.
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