While the “red wave” many Republicans were hoping for didn’t materialize on a national level last night, its effects are being felt on the shores of Huntington Beach.
Every candidate endorsed by the county Republican Party had a healthy lead in the race for the four open city council seats as of 11:30 p.m. on Election Night, with the closest competition over 7,600 votes behind.
City attorney Michael Gates, who was also endorsed for reelection by the party, led challenger Scott Field by at over 30% of the 33,000 votes at the end of the night.
That means Huntington Beach residents might see a much more conservative council moving forward, and an end to many of the fights between the council and city attorney that have dominated the city’s politics over the past year.
The OC Registrar of Voters is slated to update ballot counts at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Several charter amendments proposed by the last council are on track to be shot down, including limiting the city attorney’s power and opening the door for the council to hire other lawyers when they disagreed with him.
Gates campaigned with all the candidates who appear poised to win those seats.
So far, retired police officer Pat Burns, former state Senator Tony Strickland, and business owners Gracey Van der Mark and Casey McKeon are ahead in the race to be the new majority on the city council, joining current Councilmembers Dan Kalmick, Natalie Moser and Rhonda Bolton.
The four challengers have regularly appeared at campaign events together, pledging to sue the state over mandated housing requirements, help businesses and implement a 90 day homeless plan.
It also could spell trouble for the OC Power Authority, the county’s only community choice energy provider the last council joined in 2020.
Both Burns and Strickland promised voters they’ll work to push the city out of the agency, while Van der Mark and McKeon haven’t made any official statements on which way they lean on staying in the controversial agency.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a Groundtruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
And 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.