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Chris Norby outlines goals as Orange County's new state assemblyman

The former county supervisor wants to change how local governments are financed, pay teachers more by cutting non-classroom costs and overhaul public pension plans.

January 14, 2010|By Jean Merl

In choosing Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby for a vacant state Assembly seat, voters got a homegrown leader whose views on limiting government play well in the Republican stronghold.

As expected, the former teacher, who grew up in Fullerton and served on its City Council before his 2002 upset election to the county Board of Supervisors, coasted to an easy victory in Tuesday's special runoff election, capturing 63% of the vote. Democrat John MacMurray won 31% and Jane Rands of the Green Party garnered 6%.

"I have deep roots in the district," Norby said. "I think people were familiar with my experience and comfortable with it."

Norby said Wednesday he was putting together a staff and making other arrangements to take office, probably within two weeks, after the election results are certified and he resigns from the Board of Supervisors.

Norby said one of his top priorities in Sacramento will be to push for changes in how local governments are financed. He especially favors a proposal to allow cities to give up sales tax revenue in exchange for an equal amount in property taxes. He said that would cut down on the proliferation of big-box stores and other retail businesses as cities compete for sale taxes to the detriment of encouraging manufacturing and residential development.

He also wants to focus on education, proposing to pay teachers more by cutting non-classroom costs -- and to overhaul public pension plans and redevelopment agencies. The latter two are issues he championed on the county board.

Replacement of Norby as supervisor will be guided by the county charter, which requires a special election. Noting that Norby's board term expires at the end of this year, Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley said that election would be June 8, the same day as the regular primary election.

If a replacement candidate wins a majority then, he or she not only will fill the remainder of Norby's term but also will have been elected to the four-year term that follows. If no one wins a majority in June, the top-voter getter will serve the rest of the current term and then face the second-highest vote-getter in November for the new four-year term.

As for the Assembly election, most of the drama in the contest to replace the disgraced Mike Duvall, who resigned after a sex scandal, came during the contentious Nov. 17 special primary. Norby battled two other Republicans -- longtime GOP activist Linda Ackerman, wife of former state legislator Dick Ackerman, and political neophyte Richard Faher -- along with Rands and MacMurray.

Norby's runoff victory was all but assured once he secured the GOP nomination. Republicans make up 43% of the 72nd Assembly District's nearly 219,000 voters.

Turnout on Tuesday was 14.8%, and 81% of those who voted did so by mail ballot instead of in the voting booth, according to the Orange County registrar.

jean.merl@latimes.com

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