In an era where face-to-face debates have largely disappeared, Voice of OC is calling out to readers to help set up a thorough civic conversation before Election Day on June 7, asking residents what kinds of questions should be posed to the politicians vying to run key quality-of-life public agencies across Orange County. 

The newsroom came up with a set of draft questions for each race, which we hope readers will review down below

Send your thoughts on questions you’d like us to pose directly to our county reporter, Nick Gerda, at ngerda@voiceofoc.org

These questions will be sent to the individual campaigns on Wednesday, May 9, with the campaigns getting a few days to respond before their answers are published.

The outside of a courtroom in the Orange County courthouse. Credit: KAITLIN WASHBURN, Voice of OC

District Attorney

  1. What do you see as the biggest problem facing the criminal justice system today? What will you do about it? And what if anything have you done so far to show you’re serious about tackling it?
  2. What will you do as DA to keep Orange County communities safe?
  3. There is a crisis of confidence in Orange County’s criminal justice system, with repeated disclosures of prosecutors failing to turn over evidence. How would you address that crisis of confidence? What would you do on that front? If you’re the incumbent, what have you done on that front and what will you do?
  4. What, if anything, will you change about how the DA’s Office handles defendants who have a mental illness, addiction, and/or are homeless?
  5. Do you support the death penalty? Why or why not?
  6. What, if anything, will you do to proactively identify wrongful convictions? What is your track record on this?
  7. What should happen to prosecutors who fail in their duty to to turn over exculpatory evidence to defendants?
  8. There’s been a lot of talk about criminal justice reform during the campaign. What kinds of specific reforms do you see as needed? And if you’re the incumbent, what specifically have you instituted?
  9. The DA’s Office often takes weeks to turn over basic public records in response to Public Records Act requests, even though the law requires prompt disclosure. What steps, if any, will you take to make DA records more quickly disclosed in response to public records requests?
  10. DAs can send warning letters to local agencies on violations of open meeting laws, which it has done in the past with bodies like the Capistrano Unified school board and the Laguna Beach City Council. How do you plan to exercise that enforcement?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

OC Superior Court Judge

  • What do you see as the biggest challenge facing administration of justice at OC Superior Court, and what would you do to address it?
  • What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made in your professional career and what did you do to address them?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

Orange County supervisors at their board meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. From left: Don Wagner, Doug Chafee, Andrew Do, Lisa Bartlett and Katrina Foley. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

OC Supervisor

(Questions for all candidates)

  1. What improvements would you see yourself advocating for with public health? What would you fund? What would you unfund? What do you think of how the county Health Care Agency (HCA) is being run? What did HCA do well during the pandemic? What did they not do well? Has HCA operated independently enough from the Board of Supervisors in your view? And what do you think of cities like Santa Ana and Irvine declaring they want to split off their own health departments separate from the county?
  2. What are the biggest changes to the mental health system would you want to make, and how would you do it?
  3. How do you believe the county can do better at addressing homelessness? And how would you go about making that happen? What do you think of the county’s plans for 2,700 new units of permanent supportive housing? Should it be moving faster? If so, how would you make that happen?
  4. What’s your sense of how the county handles transparency with the public? Does the county do enough to engage the public in its budget and spending decisions? Should the county be bringing the public into its $8 billion budget process before the tail end every June? How would you plan on doing that? And how accessible should public meetings be? Should people have the ability to call in to comment? And to have email comments to be read aloud? And does the county need to ensure public records are turned over more quickly? What do you think of the sheriff not releasing public jail data unless people pay $1,000 for access?
  5. What do you think of how the board has handled its oversight of law enforcement agencies like the Sheriff’s Department, DA’s Office, and Probation Department? What if anything would you like to see approached differently? And what is your sense of the county’s law enforcement watchdog the Office of Independent Review? Is it adequate? Do you see a need to expand funding and positions there, or not?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

The Santa Ana water tower near the I-5 freeway. (Photo by Flickr user Alejandro C, released under CC BY-NC 2.0 license.)

2nd District OC Supervisor

  1. Santa Ana is among the most park-poor communities in America. What if anything would you do to address this?
  2. OC supervisors in the past have attacked the work of the anti-hate work of OC Human Relations, which is funded largely by the county. What would be your approach?
  3. What do you think of the county library system and its branches? Is it meeting the needs of residents? What do you think of the role a library should play in the 21st Century? Do you see opportunities to make county materials and services available in languages beyond English?
  4. Santa Ana officials have criticized the county for “dumping” homeless people and jail inmates from across the county into the city, by releasing all inmates in the middle of the night in the city’s downtown. What do you think of this practice? If you take issue with it, what if anything would you do about it?
  5. What’s your sense of the specific plans that govern development in North Tustin and the canyons? Should any changes be up to residents to decide on?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

The largest grove of Redwood trees in southern California can be found at the county-run Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea. Credit: CRYSTAL HENRIQUEZ, Voice of OC

4th District OC Supervisor

  1. What do you think the county should be doing about traffic and road conditions in North County?
  2. What do you think of how the county is doing on creating open space opportunities in park-poor communities in the 4th District? What would you do in office to address that?
  3. OC supervisors in the past have attacked the work of the anti-hate work of OC Human Relations, which is funded largely by the county. What would be your approach?
  4. What do you think of the county library system and its branches? Is it meeting the needs of residents? What do you think of the role a library should play in the 21st Century? Do you see opportunities to make county materials and services available in languages beyond English?
  5. Do you support more development in the hills of unincorporated north county, such as hundreds of homes supervisors previously approved in a high wildfire-risk zone?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

The county-run Dana Point Harbor at sunset on Feb. 7, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

5th District OC Supervisor

  1. Do you believe it’s right for countywide taxpayers to pay for harbor patrol services in coastal cities like Dana Point, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach?
  2. What would be your approach to nuclear waste at San Onofre? While it’s mainly a federal jurisdiction, what would be your efforts as a leading local representative and your ask of federal authorities?
  3. There’s concerns Dana Point Harbor is being turned into a wealthy enclave amid skyrocketing rents. What are your thoughts on that? Would you change the development plans there? What is your approach?
  4. What’s your approach toward the management and proposed expansion of south county’s toll roads (the 241 and 73)?
  5. As the representative of South County – nearly all of which is policed by the Sheriff’s Department – what if anything would you seek to change about the department’s handling of law enforcement in these communities?

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

A student boards a school bus after school dismissal on Jan. 20, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

OC Board of Education

  1. What’re your opinions on the lawsuits between the department of education and the board of education over control of the budget? 
  2. What do you think the role of the Board of Education in Orange County should be? 
  3. What are your thoughts on charter schools? 
  4. Do you think it’s on local school districts to determine if a charter school is right for them or the county board of education? 
  5. What changes do you want to make in education as an elected member of the board? 
  6. Should members of the board be allowed to serve on other elected panels such as city councils? 
  7. How do you plan to connect with constituents to hear their thoughts on the issues in front of the board? 
  8. Given that local school districts control curriculum, what’re the countywide issues you think the board should be focused on? 
  9. During the pandemic, the OC Board of Education was an active voice on many pandemic issues like masking, including suing the governor. Do you agree with that decision? 
  10. Describe your experience with the local education system and how far you went through that system. 

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

OC Superintendent of Schools

  1. What do you think the role of the county superintendent should be? 
  2. What’re your opinions on charter schools? 
  3. Would you continue the lawsuits between the board of education and the superintendent if elected? 
  4. What is the largest single issue you want to address as superintendent? 
  5. Who has final control over the department of education’s budget-the board, or the superintendent? 

Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org 

•••

Start each day informed with our free email newsletter. Be alerted when news breaks with our free text messages.

And since you’ve made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.