Irvine City Council member Farrah Khan announced Monday she is running for mayor, ending weeks of speculation that she would be a candidate.
“Irvine deserves a mayor who reflects the inclusive, compassionate, and progressive values of our city’s residents,” Khan said in a press release. “I’m excited to launch my campaign, and I am looking forward to the many conversations with voters that lay ahead about how best to move Irvine forward.”
In Irvine, the mayor’s term is two years, and current Mayor Christina Shea has made it clear she intends to run in November to keep her seat. Shea was appointed as mayor in 2019, after then mayor Don Wagner won a special election for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Khan’s campaign platform includes addressing the housing crisis, fighting climate change and calls for greater transparency, according to the press release. She did not respond to requests for comment.
If she wins, Khan would be the first Democrat to hold the mayor’s office in Irvine since 2012.
Khan has served on the City Council since 2018, and before that served on the Irvine Community Services Commission. She has also served on a variety of school boards and councils and on the Orange County Interfaith Network Board.
Shea was first elected to the City Council in 1992, with a two terms as mayor in 1996 and 1998, and has served as a council member for 16 of the past 20 years.
Speculation over whether Khan would run has been ongoing for weeks, following comments by Shea that recent condemnations of her statements around protests following the police killing of George Floyd were an orchestrated campaign by Khan to weaken Shea’s reelection efforts.
Khan spoke at the first press conference to condemn Shea’s comments, but did not specifically criticize the current mayor. Shea said that Khan’s presence at the conference was clearly her “kick off event” to run for mayor.
Khan’s press release also announced that her campaign will be co-chaired by former mayors Sukhee Kang and Beth Krom.
If Khan wins the election, then the third highest vote-getter in the election will take her seat to serve out the remaining two years of Khan’s term. That council member would have to run again in 2022, according to City Clerk Molly Perry.
Ordinarily, the top two vote-getters in the election are seated on the council, but Perry said that if Khan’s seat is vacant that will expand to three top vote-getters rather than have the new council appoint someone or conduct a special election.
Currently, the council has two appointed members: Shea was appointed to the position of mayor after Wagner’s departure when she was serving as the mayor pro-tem, and Councilman Mike Carroll was appointed to fill Shea’s seat for the remaining two years.
This November, the mayor’s seat and two council seats are up for election. Carroll is running for election for the first time after his appointment, and council member Melissa Fox is not staging a reelection campaign as she runs for the 68th district in the State Assembly against Steven Choi, another former Irvine mayor who has held the seat since 2016.
If Khan wins the mayor’s seat and Carroll loses his campaign, the voters could see three new council members and a new mayor following the election, with only Khan and Councilman Anthony Kuo returning.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the mayor’s term as four years instead of two. We regret the error.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @NBiesiada.