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Voters Face Issues Both Local and International

Illegal immigration, a school board clash and even Chinese politics head the list of concerns.

October 15, 2006|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

Illegal immigration, Chinese diplomacy and meltdowns in public education are among the flashpoints in city council and school board races in Orange County.

One of the most watched campaigns is Costa Mesa's City Council election, which has turned into a referendum on the town's crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Incumbent Mayor Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece, an ally and council candidate, approved the council's decision to close a job center for dayworkers and enlist local police to enforce some immigration laws.

The pair are endorsed by Jim Gilchrist, leader of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project. But Mansoor, who also works as an Orange County sheriff's deputy, has failed to receive backing from the city's fire and police associations.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 23, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 89 words Type of Material: Correction
Sister city: Articles in some editions of the Oct. 15 and Nov. 9 California sections about Orange County municipal elections said Irvine Mayor Beth Krom had signed a document pledging that the city would refuse to recognize Taiwan. The document that Krom signed to establish a sister city relationship with the Xuhui district of Shanghai included language designed to bar the city from having an official relationship with cities on Taiwan, but the city later agreed to draft a new agreement removing the exclusionary clause aimed at the island.

Those groups support Bruce Garlich and Mike Scheafer for the two open council seats. Garlich and Scheafer are also backed by a coalition that includes several former mayors, an ex-police chief and C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, owner of South Coast Plaza.

Another council battle is brewing in Irvine. In the nominally nonpartisan race, Republican crosshairs are trained on the council's three-person Democratic majority. Although two previous GOP takeover bids failed, Republicans could try to exploit a couple of Democratic foibles.

One is Mayor Beth Krom's recent sister-city visit to China, which created a small international furor when she signed a document pledging that the city would refuse to recognize Taiwan. Krom's election challenger is John Duong.

The second target is Councilman Larry Agran, the city's Democratic kingpin. He isn't up for reelection, but a grand jury inquiry into his alleged ties to the Hometown Voter Guide could taint Krom, Councilman Sukhee Kang and city political veteran Mary Ann Gaido in their campaigns against Republicans Duong, Bill Mavity and Councilwoman Christina Shea.

In contrast to the fireworks in Costa Mesa and Irvine, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle is coasting to reelection. With a campaign war chest of nearly $500,000 and an endorsement from his chief critic, Councilman Harry Sidhu, Pringle seems a shoo-in. His lone opponent is William Fitzgerald, a council watchdog who reportedly plans no fundraising.

In school board races, center stage is occupied by Capistrano Unified, which is reeling from a series of controversies, including an unsuccessful recall attempt last year and allegations of financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest and other wrongdoing.

Ten candidates, including incumbents Shelia Henness and John Casabianca, are jousting for three seats.

A third incumbent, 18-year veteran Crystal Kochendorfer, announced in August she would depart to care for her ailing parents.

The county Republican Party, which normally endorses GOP incumbents, has instead backed Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry Christensen, a slate supported by last year's recall proponents. Other candidates are Jill Case, Jody Vaughn, Kathleen Le Bon, Chuck Salisbury and Ron Lackey, an outspoken retired teacher who is suing Capistrano trustees for allegedly conspiring to silence him at meetings.

Meanwhile, in the Vietnamese hub of Westminster, allegations of racism could affect the school board race. The district faced an uproar this summer when the board offered the superintendent post to a Vietnamese American educator, then rescinded the offer a week later.

Incumbent candidates Blossie Marquez and Judy Ahrens supported the offer, but Ahrens changed her vote at the next meeting, creating a majority to cancel the offer.

The incumbents and seven challengers, K. David Bridgewaters, Jennifer Morgan, Mary Mangold, Diana Duong Mendez, Andrew Nguyen, Lupe Fisher and Thanh "Tahnee" Phan, are vying for three board seats. Incumbent James Reed didn't seek reelection.

Elsewhere in Orange County, the Anaheim Union High School District race is partly a referendum on how trustees handled a construction bond fiasco that came to light in January.

Incumbents Robert Stewart, Thomas "Hoagy" Holguin and Denise Mansfield-Reinking face five challengers, Vernon Beckett, Jordan Brandman, Harald G. Martin, Annemarie Randle-Trejo and Anna Piercy.

Times staff writers Christian Berthelsen and Seema Mehta contributed to this story.

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