When Irvine Mayor Don Wagner was elected in March to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, it opened up a vacancy on the Irvine City Council that must be filled – and it should be filled by long-time public servant Carrie O’Malley.
A 22-year Irvine resident, O’Malley was the top runner up for Council in November 2018 in a race that elected Farrah Khan and Anthony Kuo. There were 12 candidates for two seats, and Carrie O’Malley’s hard work and determination won over more voters than any other candidate who is not already on the Council. There is no arguing with the fact that just months ago she impressed the people of Irvine with her intelligence, thoughtfulness, and integrity.
O’Malley’s service to our community has been a great asset to us all. For decades she has worked at the center of some of the toughest issues we face on a day-to-day basis. O’Malley has spent her career and her life helping abused children navigate the legal process as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), solving traffic problems at the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Irvine Transportation Commission, and looking out for homeowners as Chair of the Irvine Taxpayers’ Association and as Vice President on the Board of Directors of her homeowners’ association in Northpark (where she is an original homeowner).
O’Malley is a thoughtful public servant who has her heart in the job, and truly puts the interests of the public first. O’Malley’s neighbors and our city are the beneficiaries of her hard work, thorough preparation, and careful consideration of issues. O’Malley is an effective leader because she is refreshingly honest, straightforward, and has demonstrated an ability to bring disparate viewpoints together to create meaningful solutions. We know her well, and we know that she can be trusted to be a highly effective problem-solver, not a self-serving political climber. Her service has been for all the right reasons. She cares about our neighborhoods, about our community, and about this city.
The City Council’s options are to appoint a great candidate to the current vacancy, or to plunge the city into yet another costly, distracting special election that could grind the business of the City Council to a halt in the interim. The city estimates that the cost of a special election to fill the seat will cost taxpayers roughly $900,000. That’s nearly a million dollars that won’t go to pay for public safety, improved roads, or other services. Additionally, a special election will delay the placement of a new council member for months, making it harder to move forward on critical city budgeting and planning decisions.
A special election also means the obvious – yet another exhausting ballot box battle. Nobody is served by keeping the council seat vacant while candidates and special interests line up to battle yet again. Voters wanted Khan, Kuo, and O’Malley, in that order. There is no debate — Carrie O’Malley should get the job.
By appointing Carrie O’Malley, the Council will achieve three victories at once: gaining an well-qualified and publicly vetted appointee, respecting the will of the 19,000 Irvine voters who cast a vote for O’Malley just a few months ago, and the good common sense of avoiding the high cost of a special election. This is the logical, practical and right thing to do. I urge the Irvine City Council to appoint Carrie O’Malley to the vacant council seat.
David Piper is an Orange County native and a 10-year resident of Irvine. David is an attorney and community leader.
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