Days before Orange County’s election results are certified, a committee of mayors is set to appoint local officials to the regional transportation leadership board. 

Nearly half of the decision-making seats are up for grabs at the powerful Orange County Transportation Authority that controls public bus service, freeway widenings and major street improvements.

Eleven elected officials across the county have thrown their hat in the ring to fill seven board seats representing cities at the Authority board. The board has 17 decision-making members in total, many of whom are elected city council members and county supervisors. 

The decision – on which cities will have representatives on the transportation board for the next two years – is set to be made Thursday by existing mayors, just days or weeks before new mayors and city councilmembers begin taking office after the November election.

The county Registrar of Voters is slated to certify the election results no later than Monday, with Orange County Supervisors declare the winners for supervisor and judge races on Tuesday. 

The selection comes as the transit agency grapples with a strike by workers that recently shut down all bus service in OC, criticism over economic fallout from its upcoming OC Streetcar project in Santa Ana, and restoring train service in San Clemente that’s been shut down by an erosion-fueled landslide.

Among those able to decide on Thursday is Orange Mayor Mark Murphy, who could be on track to be ousted from office by voters if the current election result trends hold. If he loses, he would be leaving office in the coming days.

The Orange Mayor was behind challenger Dan Slater by 435 votes of the nearly 40,000 ballots counted in the race so far, as of the Tuesday election results update.

There were still about 4,700 ballots left to process throughout the county. 

The city representatives will be chosen by the County’s City Selection Committee, a rarely-watched body that appoints city representatives to the Transportation Authority board and other regional bodies.

The panel plans to appoint the transportation authority board members at a 5 p.m. Thursday meeting in the Orange City Council chambers.

It’s unclear if Murphy, the Orange mayor, will be eligible to serve as a city rep at OCTA if the current results hold and he loses the re-election.

Murphy didn’t return phone messages for comment.

But the City Selection Committee’s Chairman, Stanton Mayor David Shawver said if Murphy loses reelection, “he’s not qualified for sure.”

The committee meeting will not be streamed online because the committee members haven’t requested it, said Robin Stieler, the county’s Clerk of the Board, whose office clerks the selection meeting.

Asked about this in a Wednesday phone interview, Shawver, said “I don’t see it (live streaming) as a problem. He said he would ask the clerk about the possibility of adding streaming for Thursday’s meeting. 

The full list of candidates up for selection on Thursday, according to Stieler, are:

  • Mark Murphy (Orange)
  • Patrick Harper (Fountain Valley)
  • Dan Kalmick (Huntington Beach)
  • Jessie Lopez (Santa Ana)
  • Tammy Kim (Irvine)
  • Jose Diaz (Anaheim)
  • Fred Jung (Fullerton)
  • Marty Simonoff (Brea)
  • Donald Caskey (Laguna Hills)
  • Jamey Federico (Dana Point)
  • John Stephens (Costa Mesa)

(Click here to see Thursday’s meeting agenda.)

Correction: This story was updated to clarify that mayors across Orange County will pick transportation officials, not the transportation authority itself.

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