Nowhere in Orange County is there more campaign paraphernalia than in Huntington Beach. Surf City is plastered from vacant lot to telephone pole with colorful placards for the 10 candidates in two competitive races in today's election.
"We're inundated," said Arnie Samardich, a code enforcement officer for the city. "There're definitely people who don't like it much."
Whether eyesores or celebrations of democracy, today is the last day that the signs will be needed, as Orange County voters--predictions anticipate a turnout of more than 500,000, or 50% of those registered--head to the polls between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
In addition to the propositions and the candidates for statewide offices, there are several races to be decided by Orange County voters, among them three primaries for state Assembly seats, a hotly contested mayor's race in Irvine and a countywide measure that would require all future jails to be built in Santa Ana.
One of the two races whose placards are cluttering the streets of Huntington Beach involves County Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, who is facing four opponents in her bid for a fourth term. Wieder is favored to win, but she must get more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff in November with the next-highest vote-getter.
Wieder's opponents in the nonpartisan race are Westminster Councilwoman Joy L. Neugebauer, Huntington Beach businessman John D. Harper, Sunset Beach businesswoman Sonia Sonju and Seal Beach activist Marie Alexis Antos.
The other race generating a lot of advertising in Huntington Beach is the one to replace Assemblyman Dennis Brown (R-Los Alamitos) in the 58th District, which extends from Huntington Beach to Long Beach.
Five Republicans are running in the primary. In the last week, the race has largely focused on candidates Thomas J. Mays and Dr. Seymour Alban.
Alban, a Long Beach orthopedic surgeon, has, with the support of the California Medical Assn., raised the most money. He also has endorsements from the California League of Conservation Voters and the moderate California Republican League.
Mays, the mayor of Huntington Beach, has recently had backing by a group that includes the California Chiropractors Assn., a CMA archrival in Sacramento. Mays also is also supported by the conservative California Republican Assembly and the National Rifle Assn.
The other Republican candidates in the race are Jan Hall and Jeff Kellogg, both Long Beach council members, and Peter von Elten, a vice president and general counsel at Mola Development Co. in Huntington Beach.
The district is predominantly Republican, and the winner in the GOP primary would be the favorite in November against Democrat Luanne Pryor, a public relations consultant from Long Beach.
There are two other contested primaries for Assembly seats in Orange County. In Newport Beach there is a Republican contest between incumbent Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) and challenger Phyllis Badham, the 30-year-old daughter of the former congressman for the area.
In Garden Grove, a hostile battle erupted between two Democrats seeking the nomination to run against Republican Assemblyman Curt Pringle. They are Jerry Yudelson, an energy conservation consultant, and Tom Umberg, a former federal prosecutor.
Yudelson and Umberg have been trading accusations for the last few weeks, but over the weekend, the battle heated up anew over mailers attacking each other.
A fuming Yudelson said Monday that if his opponent wins, he will not support him in the race against Pringle. "Umberg is nothing but a Curt Pringle in Democratic clothing," he said.
Umberg, who said he would still favor Yudelson over Pringle, charged Monday: "Now that we're starting to show his true colors, he's trying to run away from it."
In Irvine, Mayor Larry Agran is facing a tough challenge from Councilwoman Sally Anne Sheridan. The two have offered voters a clear choice in regard to some of Orange County's biggest issues--transportation, housing, development and the environment.
Elsewhere in the county, Supervisors Thomas F. Riley of Newport Beach and Don R. Roth of Anaheim are favored to win reelection. Both face opponents but are expected to receive more than 50% of the vote.
This is Riley's fifth county election. He was appointed a supervisor by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1974.