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Orange, Calif. — In the 2020 elections, Orange County Democrats broke barriers with historic victories and significant gains down the ballot.

Democrats broke barriers for more diverse representation across the county. In Santa Ana, Vicente Sarmiento will become the first Bolivian-American elected mayor of a major US city, and Thai Viet Phan will become the first Vietnamese-American elected to the Santa Ana City Council.

Democrats gained new firsts for Korean-American representation. Dave Min will be Orange County’s first Korean-American Democrat elected to the legislature, and Fred Jung will be Fullerton’s first Korean-American City Council member.

In Irvine, Farrah Khan defeated a 26-year incumbent to become the first Muslim woman to lead a major U.S. city, and the first woman of color to lead as Mayor of Irvine. “The Irvine community has shifted from the 1990’s, and wanted leadership inclusive of everyone in the city,” said Mayor-elect Khan. “I’m thankful for the outpouring of enthusiasm our campaign has received.”

In a year of civil rights activism not seen since the 1960s, Orange County more than doubled its number of Black Democratic elected officials. Richard Hurt will become the first Black City Council member to serve in Aliso Viejo, David Crockett will be the first Black Trustee elected to the Rancho Santiago Community College Board, and Dr. Vicki Calhoun will be the first Black female Trustee to serve Fullerton Joint Union High School District. In Tustin, Letitia Clark could make history as the city’s first Black female Mayor (she is currently serving as Mayor Pro Tem).

Said Trustee-elect Crockett, “When I reflected on how to build a strong foundation for our community, I came back to where I had built a strong foundation for my own life: education. Ensuring equal access to quality education was at the core of my campaign, and a vision that our community was eager for.”

“Orange County is a vibrant, diverse community. We succeed when everyone has a seat at the table,” said Democratic Party of Orange County Chairwoman Ada Briceno. “Immigrants and women and men of color are, more and more, the future of Orange County, and these positive changes are a reflection of that.”

The historic breakthroughs are part of a wave of down-ballot successes for Orange County Democrats. In addition to flipping two senate seats (to hold 4 out of 5 senate seats in Orange County), Democrats flipped 20 local seats from red to blue. Democrats either held or expanded their seats on every city council, school board, and water board they ran for — in both red and blue areas of the county.

On school boards, Democrats made historic gains. For the first time in Orange County history, Democrats are taking a plurality of school board seats. There will now be more Democrats serving across all Orange County school boards than Republicans or independents.

Democrats will take supermajorities on city councils in Buena Park, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana, and new majorities in Irvine and Aliso Viejo. For the first time in Costa Mesa’s history, it will have a Latino-majority city council. Democrats also gained seats — and chipped away at Republican majorities or supermajorities — on city councils in San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach, and Westminster.

About the Democratic Party of Orange County

Once famously known as “Reagan country,” after President Reagan called Orange County the place where “all good Republicans go to die,” Orange County is rapidly shifting from a Republican stronghold into a highly diverse Democratic metropolis.

Chair Ada Briceno, a longtime labor organizer, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, and recently elected Democratic National Committee member, is the first immigrant and second Latina to lead the Democratic Party of Orange County. Her executive leadership team includes Latino, Vietnamese, millennial, and LGBT representation.

Less than a year after OC Democrats made historic gains in 2018, they overtook countywide voter registration to become the region’s leading political party. Today, OC Democrats have gained more than a 2-point voter advantage over the GOP. In the 2020 cycle, a surge of 221 Democrats filed paperwork to run for local offices in 2020, compared to 170 in 2018 and 160 in 2016.

Orange County is the nation’s sixth largest county, with 3.2 million residents and more than half a million registered Democratic voters.

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For Immediate Release – November 24, 2020
Media Contact: ​Rachel Potucek, rachel@ocdemocrats.org

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