Right now, voters in coastal and south OC have the power to decide who will control decisions around local law enforcement, mental health, homelessness and public health.

They’re in a particularly influential position – deciding whether Democrats or Republicans will control the powerful county Board of Supervisors that controls $8 billion a year in spending.

It all comes down to the District 5 race – between Supervisor Katrina Foley and Republican state Sen. Pat Bates – to determine which party will have the majority.

The district covers Costa Mesa, Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Coto de Caza, Ladera Ranch and much of Irvine.

Voice of OC reporters reached out to both candidates and sent them a list of questions, several of which were submitted by readers in response to a public invitation for questions.

Candidates were allowed up to 350 characters per answer, to keep the total length reasonable. 

Bates’ campaign indicated she would be submitting answers, but later changed course, saying she was “extremely busy” and would not be answering.

Below are the answers from the candidate who responded. They’re the exact text each candidate submitted in writing.

Click here to read the earlier candidate survey the candidates submitted before the June primary election.

1. What do you think of how the agency you’re running for handles public transparency? Do you have any specific critiques or areas that you feel need improvement?

Katrina Foley: “Although improving, the County continues to struggle with sharing information in a timely manner in a way that the community can access. We need to keep improving transparency for all aspects of county business, especially for the nearly $8.8 billion budget.”

2. What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?

Foley: “My office is transparent, open and willing to answer any questions/inquiries. My policy for staff is we reply to every email, inquiry, or call. Each week we send out a newsletter informing the public of our activities and initiatives, as well as county programs. You can read past issues here: https://bos2.ocgov.com/newsletters

3. Do you support publicly posting meeting agendas earlier? If so, how early? And what if any steps would you take to increase public input in budget decisions? 

Foley: “I support posting agendas as soon as possible for the public to view and provide input. I support upgrading our system to allow timely access to links. I’ve been able to shine a light onto the no-bid contracts that have been placed on the agenda, and challenged the status quo.”

4. What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?

Foley: “With year round wildfires, drought, and our coast eroding, we have a crisis of climate change. We must work to mitigate the inevitable damages that are going to occur due to climate change. I am working on a first-of-its-kind Climate Action Plan to address these threats and help our residents prepare & protect them from coastal erosion & wildfire.”

5. What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Foley: “I support the move to an all-electric fleet for government vehicles, solar in all public parking lots, and upgrades to green up our airport technology. Adding electric vehicle charging stations in apartment complexes and near job centers must happen. Go to my website to learn more: https://www.katrinafoley.com/accomplishments

6. Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?

Foley: “No.”

7. Do you believe you are participating in a free and fair election process? Subject to the established rules for recounts, will you accept the results of their election, win or lose, as certified?

Foley: “Yes.”

8. Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?

Foley: “No.”

9. Do you agree with the standing ovation given to the Cuban government by the California State Senate earlier this year? During such official recognitions, do you believe it’s important to hear from opposing views when there are human rights concerns about those regimes?

Foley: “No – while I do believe in listening to opposing viewpoints politically, I draw a line at human rights abuses. I was saddened to see elected officials from both parties celebrating the Cuban regime.”

10. Should visits by international delegations to government offices in the U.S. – such as the county or state or Congress – be tied to human rights and be fully disclosed before the visits?

Foley: “Yes, I was recently briefed by the FBI and Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center about the need for diligence and screening by local elected officials regarding potential foreign agent interference. “

11. What specific steps will you take to address rapidly worsening coastal erosion in your District? As public access and critical infrastructure are already in jeopardy in Capistrano Beach, are you prepared to act quickly and decisively to mitigate and protect against further damage?

Foley: “Yes. Coastal erosion is the product of decades of deferred maintenance and inaction by our long time elected officials. I have worked with climate experts on policies focused on mitigation and resilience such as sand replenishment, shoreline stabilization, reducing cliff erosion, and increasing sediment supplies from local creeks and streams.”

12. What is your opinion of the now-stalled Serra Siding project and the BNSF Railway/LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency plan to accommodate 22 industrial freight trains a day between San Diego and Barstow, through downtown areas of cities and along eroding coastal areas?

Foley: “I am on record opposing increased freight trains through the Serra Siding project through Orange County. The Corridor, the 2nd busiest in the country, transports over 8.3 million passengers and moves over $1 billion in goods annually. San Diego’s state Sen. secured $300 million for corridor resiliency from the state budget, my opponent secured $0.”

13. What are you prepared to do to protect residential communities and vulnerable addicts from being victimized by poorly regulated sober living homes that proliferate in your district as part of the “Rehab Riviera”?

Foley: “As mayor, I helped craft the first legal strategy to defend reasonable regulations, I’ve brought our groundbreaking ordinances countywide. I do not support illegal & abusive sober living homes within our neighborhoods. Sacramento continues to fail especially when it comes to illegal sober living homes in our quiet residential neighborhoods.”

14. What is your reaction to the OC Grand Jury report on the excessive debt of the toll roads agency TCA? What steps will you take to ensure Orange County residents can be released, sooner rather than much later, from ever higher toll fees and developer impact fees passed on in home prices?

Foley: “I am against toll road expansion into our neighborhoods. It is shocking how the taxpayers continue to pay for a road whose construction fees have been long paid. I strongly believe the County should investigate how quickly the TCA, in accordance with their initial development agreement, can make the Toll Roads open to the public.”

15. Do you support creating more walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented neighborhoods that provide alternatives to car usage? If so, how and where would you plan for more in your district? How will you retrofit existing neighborhoods to be more bike and pedestrian friendly?

Foley: “Yes.  I’ve worked for years to develop active transportation plans, build protected multi purpose trails, and promote safe, efficient public transportation options.”

16. Do you support a systematic implementation of protected bike lanes throughout your district? If so, how would you go about doing that and measuring progress?

Foley: “Yes, I support this & expanded protected bike lanes as Mayor/City councilperson of Costa Mesa by initiating the Walk & Bikeability Committee in 2015 to create an active transportation plan which I voted on in 2016. Progress can be measured from community input and assessing the number of pedestrian accidents that occur following the implementation.”

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

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