OC residents in three cities had the opportunity to vote on various city ballot measures that could alter the way their city operates in the cities of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Westminster.

City of Huntington Beach Measure A – Cannabis Tax

Cannabis businesses are currently illegal in Huntington Beach, but voters had the option of implementing a cannabis tax, a change that could pave the way for allowing these businesses in the city.

So far, 70% of residents have voted for the measure, while 29% have voted against out of the 20,238 votes counted so far, according to initial results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

The measure, if passed, would support creating a special tax on commercial cannabis businesses if they become legal in the city later on. A vote against this measure would not support the creation of the tax.

City officials have discussed this issue at length earlier this year and estimate that a 6% tax rate on cannabis retailers — in addition to a 1% rate on other cannabis businesses — would generate approximately $300,000 to $600,000 every year in taxes to the city.

It’s an issue that has popped up across the county, with cities like Santa Ana and Costa Mesa welcoming the businesses into the city because of the tax money, while cities like Mission Viejo have voted against the change.

The special tax needs two thirds of Huntington Beach voter support to be approved.

City of Newport Beach Measure B – Directly Elect the Mayor 

Voters in Newport Beach considered whether or not to alter the way the mayor is elected in the city.

Currently, one council member is elected from each of the seven districts in Newport Beach and the mayor is picked through a majority vote by the council and serves in the role for a year. The measure, if passed, would reduce the districts in the city to six, allowing residents to directly elect the mayor in an at-large election. This would change the position to a four-year term.

So far, 40% of residents have voted for the measure, while about 60% have voted against, out of the 10,945 votes counted so far, according to initial result from the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

A vote against the measure would support keeping the current method of electing the mayor. 

If approved, city officials would have to set the six new district boundaries at least six months before the election in 2024.

The mayor would be primarily responsible for setting each council meeting agenda, but any three council members have the collective power to add an item to a future agenda. 

Critics of the ballot measure are concerned that it would give the mayor too much power when setting agendas, while supporters like the idea of directly electing the person who primarily makes these decisions.

City of Westminster Measure C – Eliminate Directly Elected Mayor and Increase Number of Council Members and Districts 

On the other hand, Westminster voters decided if they want to eliminate the at-large mayor position and increase the number of council members from four to five.

According to initial results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters, 58% of residents have voted against the measure, while 41% have for it, out of the 7,057 votes cast.

So far, the four council members and mayor each serve four-year terms. The four council members are elected through by-district elections and the mayor is elected at-large.

If approved, residents would instead elect five council members, who would then elect a mayor among themselves. Additionally, city officials would have to adopt a district map with five boundaries instead of four. 

A vote against the measure would support keeping the current method of electing the mayor.

Correction: The Westminster vote was flipped and has been fixed. We regret the error.

Angelina Hicks is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact her at ahicks@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @angelinahicks13.

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