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The first votes are in for the city of Fullerton, where at least two new city council members will join the dais and the voters will decide on a tax measure that will shape the city’s financial future.
- In District 1, Fred Jung is leading over Andrew Cho.
- In District 2, Nick Dunlap is leading a crowded field of three other candidates with just nearly half of the vote, with Faisal Qazi and Mackenzie Chang trailing behind him at just under 30 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
- In District 4, incumbent Councilman Bruce Whitaker pulled ahead for the first time tonight at the 11:00 p.m. update, pushing past challenger Aaruni Thakur.
- Measure S, a proposed 1.25% sales tax increase is solidly opposed by a majority of voters, with no wavering throughout the night.
These preliminary results represent over two thirds of Orange County voters.
The council will see new officials in both Districts 1 and 2 as the city completes its transition to district voting and Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald and Councilwoman Jan Flory both elected not to run a seat in 2020.
The election was shaped by a focus on the city’s aging infrastructure and a debate around Measure S, with proponents saying the new tax would bring desperately needed revenue to the city, and opponents saying it would only greenlight more unneeded spending.
If the measure fails to pass, city staff have projected the city will need to cut $5 million a year out of its spending budget, and could still run out of reserves by 2025.
Of the candidates, only Aaruni Thakur has come out in favor of the tax increase, while the other candidates have all said Fullerton needs to focus on bringing in more businesses and diversifying its tax revenue streams. The entire City Council aside from Councilman Bruce Whitaker has endorsed the new tax measure.
Whether or not the new tax hike is approved, Fullerton is still looking at a complicated financial future, and the new council members will likely vote on major financial shifts during their first few months in office that could determine the city’s infrastructure and budget plans for years to come.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.