Democrats are on the cusp of having a controlling majority on Orange County’s powerful Board of Supervisors for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The latest election results Thursday evening – which reflect 97% of all ballots cast across OC – had Democrat Katrina Foley holding her lead over Republican Pat Bates, 51.2% to 48.8%.

Bates told Voice of OC late Thursday that she had called Foley “to congratulate her.”

Foley said they’ll soon discuss district issues.

“We had a nice call and we discussed getting together after the holidays so I can learn some of her insights about south county,” Foley said in a text message.

This south OC 5th District seat is the deciding factor for which party will have a majority on the board.

In an interview Thursday, Foley promised to be responsive to the needs of the constituents in her new district, which includes many coastal south OC cities that she previously did not represent.

“I’m somebody that’s here to serve. And [I] will be responsive and at the ready,” Foley said.

Supervisors control pandemic response, homeless programs and law enforcement spending, to name a few critical areas. 

And $8 billion in annual taxpayer dollars.

Foley said she’ll put a particular emphasis on climate resiliency for local communities, including partnerships with state and federal officials – including on things like moving railroad tracks that are currently shut down from erosion.

“We need to protect our coastline,” Foley said. “We see the tracks are falling into the ocean…We need to look at long-term investments in our coastline. And bring in scientists to advise on the best course of action to protect our coastlines,” she added.

She said she wants to spearhead infrastructure projects around climate response at the county level.

“My office has already initiated the beginnings of a climate action plan. And now I’m excited we’ll be able to move forward in maybe a more holistic way.”

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at

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