Right now, voters in north and west OC are faced with a rarity in local politics:
A party turning on their own incumbent.
Supervisor Doug Chaffee, a Democrat, has been under fire from Democratic Party leaders for often siding with his Republican colleagues on key issues like banning health officials from joining coronavirus news conferences.
He’s also sided with Republicans on decisions like mask mandates and trying to reset all of the supervisors’ term limits with a ballot measure that was widely condemned from across the political spectrum as misleading.
His challenger is Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park, who is backed by the party.
The winner will have a four-year term as supervisor helping decide how to spend $8 billion a year on local law enforcement, mental health, homelessness, public health and other priorities.
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.
Park was the only one who answered. Chaffee and his campaign manager LaShe Rodriguez – who also is his chief of staff at the county – didn’t respond to invitations to provide answers.
Below are the answers from the candidate who did respond. It’s the exact text each candidate submitted in writing.
Click here to read the earlier candidate survey the candidates submitted before the June primary election.
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?
Sunny Park: “The Orange County Board of Supervisors has a long way to go to be a body that is both accessible and transparent to the public. Most recently, the County Supervisors have been criticized for authorizing Supervisor Chaffee to distribute nearly $10 million in federal COVID relief dollars without disclosing the names of beneficiaries, and much more.”
What, if anything, will you do to make your agency and its elected leaders more transparent and open to constituents?
Park: “Community meetings & open communication with residents are most important to ensure transparency and accountability; the budget process needs to start early to seek out community input. Board meetings are during the day time, hindering people from participating. I will hold space in D4 to assess community need & build solutions.”
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?
Park: “Agendas are to be made public two weeks prior to the meeting, which is appropriate. Any changes should be public at least 72 hours before the meeting, but should be avoided if possible. I will ensure accessibility to virtual testimonies and expand outreach to the community for input on budget decisions, including listening sessions and town halls.”
What is your perspective on climate change? And what, if any, action plans do you have to address climate change and protect residents?
Park: “An action plan for climate change is an investment for the future, and we must act with urgency. I was proud to support a resolution that recognized our state’s role, moved to 100% renewable energy as default, and demanded action from local leaders. OC should be the frontrunner for energy efficient transportation solutions & EV charging stations.”
What local actions, if any, do you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Park: “As Mayor of Buena Park, I was proud to enact 100% clean energy as our default in the city. We can and we must do the same countywide to make Orange County greener and cleaner. This will help ensure clean air for our communities and coastline, help reduce carbon emissions and build more sustainable communities across the county.”
Do you believe the last presidential election was stolen?
Park: “No, absolutely not.”
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?
Park: “Yes and yes.”
Do you support doing business with regimes who have questionable human rights records, such as Cuba, Iran and Russia?
Park: “I do not support doing business with regimes with questionable human rights records.”
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?
Park: “Yes, I believe it’s important to hear opposing views when there are human rights concerns.”
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?
Park: “Yes, those visits should be tied to human rights and they should be disclosed properly.”
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?
Park: “Yes, we need transit development. I will work closely with the 7 cities in District 4 and others in Orange County in partnership with the State in identifying and helping secure funds for capital improvements that ensure walkable communities that are not dependent on cars through transit development, traffic light synchronization and more.”
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?
Park: “Yes, we need accessible, multi-pronged transit systems. As Supervisor, I will work closely with the seven cities in District 4 and other cities in Orange County to ensure that there is a continuous network of protected bike lanes throughout the district.”
How would you deal with noise pollution in North OC under the flight path of John Wayne Airport? What do you plan to do for the people and children of communities in your district regarding this issue?
Park: “I would start with reviewing the current ordinance and regulations, and see if those have been observed. If not, I would do a full report on how to improve the noise pollution level and if necessary, suggest ordinances that improve the situation for our residents.”
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.