Early results are in for three City Council seats in San Clemente in an election that will finally break the panel’s 2-2 deadlocks over the past year and set the majority for the next two years.
A crowded field of nearly 20 candidates is fighting for two four-year terms on the council and one two-year term to finish out the remainder of Mayor Dan Bane’s term, who moved earlier this year to Missouri.
Currently, Chris Duncan and incumbent Councilman Gene James are ahead in the race for the full term seats, with a two point lead over their nearest competition with Aaron Washington.
In the separate race for the two-year seat, Donna Vidrine dropped to third after leading the entire night, replaced by Steven Knoblock at the top.
Voters are also considering Measure BB, which would place new term limits on council members. Each panelist would be allowed two four-year terms back to back, but then would have to take at least two years off before they could run again.
San Clemente voters so far are supporting the measure, with nearly 80 percent in support and 20 percent against.
These preliminary results represent over two thirds of Orange County voters.
At least two new members will be joining the council, one in the two year slot to fill Bane’s seat and another in the four-year seat that Councilman Chriss Hamm is leaving behind.
They will join a dais that’s been defined by disagreements over the past year, with an ongoing search for a permanent city manager and a tense relationship with the Orange County Sheriffs’ Dept., which threatened to pull out of the city earlier this year if the council did not take down a controversial fence surrounding the beach.
One of the new council’s first votes will also be over appointing a new mayor, something the city has lacked through nearly the entirety of the pandemic. Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson has led the meetings in the absence of an appointed mayor, but the current council has not been able to agree who should take over the job.
Council members will also be determining who takes over as a permanent city manager. Asst. City Manager Erik Sund is currently serving as an interim leader, but there has been no mention of whether he will hang onto the job or who may replace him.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.