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Sergio Contreras, a Democrat and Westminster councilman, nearly doubled his narrow lead over fellow Democrat Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido in the latest result update Thursday to face Republican OC Supervisor Andrew Do in a November runoff for Do’s seat. Ballots will continue to be counted until at least Friday night.
The Thursday update had Contreras’ lead widen from 0.8 percentage points above Pulido the night before to 1.5 percentage points. Do continued to hold a comfortable lead above all three Democrat challengers, with 45 percent of all ballots to Contreras’ 21 percent.
The top two vote-getters will face off in November for the 1st District supervisor seat, which represents the cities of Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster and part of Fountain Valley. The five-member Board of Supervisors controls how over $7 billion per year in taxpayer money is spent, ranging from homeless shelters to mental health services to law enforcement.
Contreras and Pulido also come from different generations of the party. Pulido was first elected to the Santa Ana City Council in 1986, while Contreras joined the Westminster council in 2012 after serving on the Westminster Unified School District board for eight years before that.
They also had different fundraising strategies. Pulido was promoted by ads from a group funded with $25,000-plus checks each from major donors like the Santa Ana police union, real estate companies, and billionaire Kieu Hoang, while Contreras was funded largely by individual small donors and labor unions.
When Do last ran in 2016, Democrats had a 14 percentage-point advantage in voter registration in the district, and Do won by 0.4%. That margin has since increased to almost 20 percent.
The latest results in the 2020 primary show that 55 percent of the vote went to Democrat candidates for 1st District supervisor.
Republicans were in a strong position to hold onto the 3rd Supervisor District, which has no runoff election. Republican Supervisor Don Wagner had 54.2 percent of the vote to his opponent Ashleigh Aitken’s 45.7 percent in the Thursday update.
One of the central themes of campaigns for 1st District supervisor was homelessness and supervisors’ handling of the issue. Do’s campaign said he helped lead the county’s response to homelessness and cited it as a top issue for his campaign.
But Contreras and Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, who had 15 percent percent of the vote in the latest update, were openly critical of Do’s handling of homelessness. They said in phone interviews with Voice of OC that he did not move fast enough to create shelter and affordable housing to get people off the streets.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.