There’s less than a month to go before ballots start hitting OC voters’ mailboxes.

The decision will impact who runs our government – and impacts local quality of life – from control of local school curriculum, to oversight of police, to addressing issues like homelessness and criminal justice.

But it can be tough to quickly compare the candidates – especially for local seats like school boards and city councils.

Voice of OC is putting real questions to the people who want to run our government – so you as voters can judge them.

We did that for the June primary, publishing answers from dozens of candidates for judge, district attorney, the three supervisor races, and county Board of Education and superintendent of schools.

We heard from readers that this was a helpful tool to see where candidates stand.

And we’ll be doing it again ahead for the general election – with ballots set to hit voters’ mailboxes the week of Oct. 10.

We’re interested to know what questions you have for the candidates. We plan to incorporate many of these into our surveys of those vying to run our government – as we did for the primary.

To get started, below are questions we’ve put together for school board races, many of which are set to be contentious amid debates around critical race theory, freedom of speech and pandemic rules.

And below that, we’ve listed the other races on the ballot, to help fuel ideas for further questions.

What questions do you have? Email them to Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

K-12 School Boards

Click here for a list of all school board candidates across Orange County. These are the questions we’ve prepared for them:

  1. What are your thoughts on the debate around Critical Race Theory (CRT) and K-12 schools?
  2. What’s your stance on pandemic measures like masking on campus, including during future waves of COVID-19?
  3. What’s your stance on the debate about free speech on campus?
  4. Are you in favor of better mental health support for students in your district? If so, what specific changes would you work to make?
  5. What are the top three things you want to see funded or de-funded as a board member?
  6. What’s your position on raises for teachers? And what is your relationship like with the teachers union(s) in your district?
  7. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

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

2nd District OC Supervisor

The runoff election is between Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen. Here are the questions we asked before the June primary:

District-Specific Questions:

  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?

Countywide Questions:

  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?
  6. What, in your capacity as a local elected leader, do you plan to do about climate change? If you plan on taking action, what are your specific plans?
  7. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?
  8. Do you see public corruption as a problem in Orange County? And what would you do to combat it?
  9. What do you think the county could do to address the housing affordability crisis facing many local residents? And what could the county do to reduce road congestion?
  10. How would you deal with the noise pollution under the flight path of John Wayne Airport, which residents say is increasing?
  11. With the recent federal government changes to water allocation in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, what are your plans to assure adequate water supply to all communities in Orange County?
  12. Currently the OC sheriff refers more people to ICE than any other department in the state. Would you change that? Or do you support it?
  13. Do you support the idea of public transit? If so, what would you do to make it more appealing and effective?

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

4th District OC Supervisor

The runoff election is between incumbent Supervisor Doug Chaffee and Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park. Here are the questions we asked before the June primary:

District-Specific Questions:

  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 group 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?

Countywide Questions (same as above for 2nd District)

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

5th District OC Supervisor

The runoff election is between incumbent Supervisor Katrina Foley and state Sen. Pat Bates. Here are the questions we asked before the June primary:

District-Specific Questions:

  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?

Countywide Questions (same as above for 2nd District)

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

Mayors and City Councils

As always, Voice of OC is tracking local races across Orange County. There are several city races of particular note this year in some of the largest cities across Orange County. We put together some questions for candidates, and invite readers to tell us what cities we should be keeping an eye on and what questions we should be asking.

Anaheim Mayor

This race pits Councilman Trevor O’Neil against attorney Ashleigh Aitken, former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and water systems operator Dick Lopez. Here are some questions we have:

  1. What’s your perspective on how your city can best enhance safety for the public? What specifically would you do to enhance public safety?
  2. What are your main takeaways from the FBI corruption probe in Anaheim, which prompted former Mayor Harry Sidhu to resign? What specific changes, if any, do you think need to be made in Anaheim in response to the probe?
  3. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how Anaheim spends its dollars?
  4. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with Disney and resort-area businesses? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to city policy regarding Disney and the Resort District area?

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

Santa Ana Mayor

This race features school board member Valerie Amezcua against former councilmen Jose Soloro and Sal Tinajero, as well as college student Jesse Nestor.

  1. What’s your perspective on how your city can best enhance safety for the public? What specifically would you do to enhance public safety?
  2. Do you support or oppose recent efforts to let non-citizens vote in city elections? And what do you think of the city’s new policy letting undocumented residents serve on city commissions?
  3. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how Santa Ana spends its dollars?
  4. What’s your perspective on the city’s relationship with the Santa Ana Police Officers Association and its president, Gerry Serrano? How would you manage that relationship and what if any changes would you make to it?

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

Irvine Mayor

This race pits Mayor Farrah Khan against journalist Katherine Daigle, technology account executive Tom Chomyn, paralegal Branda Lin and pastor Simon Moon.

  1. What’s your perspective on how your city can best enhance safety for the public? What specifically would you do to enhance public safety?
  2. What are your views on the OC Power Authority? What if anything would you change about Irvine’s role in it?
  3. How would you handle the development of the Great Park?
  4. What’s your perspective on the veteran’s cemetery debate?
  5. What are the main things, if any, you would change about how Irvine spends its dollars?

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

Other City Races

We will also be asking questions of mayor and City Council candidates in the next largest cities by population: Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Orange, Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo and Westminster.

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

Community College Boards

Click here for a list of all community college board candidates across Orange County. Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

State Senate and Assembly

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

OC Superior Court Judge

This race pits Superior Court Commissioner Michele Bell against Deputy Attorney General Peggy Huang, who also is a Yorba Linda city councilwoman. Click here to see the questions we asked judge candidates in the primary. Got a question you want asked of the candidates? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

Water Districts

There are 14 different water districts in Orange County that control water supplies and prices during the ongoing drought. What do you want to ask the people who want to be in charge? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

Other Special Districts

Besides water, there are other types of special districts that oversee services in Orange County, including library districts, community service districts, sanitary districts and a recreation and park district. What do you want to ask the people who want to be in charge? Email Voice of OC reporter Nick Gerda at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

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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.

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