In the race for two seats on Irvine’s City Council, longtime councilman Larry Agran and newcomer Kathleen Treseder are leading with incumbent Anthony Kuo trailing slightly behind, as ballot counting continues.
And in the campaign for mayor, Farrah Khan is ahead in initial tallies reported as of Wednesday evening, but Branda Lin, a lifetime Irvine resident and paralegal, is not far behind.
After results were updated Wednesday, the Orange County Registrar of Voters estimated more than 404,000 ballots are left to process. Most are mailed-in ballots, from drop boxes or were turned in at vote centers. Vote totals will be updated again at 5 p.m. Thursday.
With many more votes remaining to be counted, the candidates said they are still waiting to make any declarations about their races. Official results might not be known for some days, in certain cases.
Irvine conducts its elections at-large, so the candidates run to represent the entire city, and the top votegetters among them win the open seats.
Both Agran and Treseder said they are pleased with their leading positions.
Agran, a longtime fixture in Irvine politics, said he believed his campaign resonated with voters more so than those of his competitors and fellow incumbents.
“Our strategy was to push forward with those issues that are important to our community,” Agran said, noting topics like the All American Asphalt plant, a veteran’s memorial park and cemetery at the Great Park and the Orange County Power Authority.
He said he was, “targeted,” in turn, “with hundreds of thousands of dollars of viscous attack mail filled with smears and lies, character assassination, you name it.”
But he remained optimistic Tuesday night, saying “so far it appears the people of Irvine, the voters, didn’t buy it.”
There were six candidates vying for the two Irvine council positions.
Treseder, a biology professor at UCI and climate activist, is seeking a first term on the council. She said she was pleased with the position she is in as results roll in, but is maintaining no expectations. If her lead holds, though, Treseder said she most looks forward to “being able to root out any potential corruption in the council and shine a light on it.”
Kuo, who was a newcomer when he was elected to the council in 2018, is trailing not far behind Treseder in early tallies, and John Park followed. As more ballots are counted, Kuo said he is staying hopeful he win a return to the council.
“I’ve worked hard for the community I grew up in during my first four years on the City Council, and remain optimistic with each update the Registrar of Voters provides,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
In the mayor’s race, Khan appears to be outpacing her four challengers in initial counts, with Lin just behind her and a trio of other candidates trailing them.
Lin said she is deeply in tune with Irvine’s politics as a community member, helping found the blog Irvine Watchdog, which reports on the city leaders and their decisions.
Lin is feeling “grateful,” she said, “for the opportunity I had to shine a light on all these issues that have been ignored these past two years,” including small things like public participation during meetings, and bigger ones like representation of Great Park residents in decisions about the park.
Lin said she won’t make assumptions about the final tallies one way or the other, but added there’s “no question” that Irvine voters “want a new mayor,” she said.
“The majority of votes went against our current incumbent so far,” Lin said. “I think that speaks volumes.”
In her bid for a second term as mayor, Khan said that with the tallies still coming in, it is too early to make any announcements about a potential victory, “but looking at numbers now, I think we’re in a good spot,” she said.
On what she believes has resonated with voters in her campaign, Khan said she thinks “it’s the work that I put in with the community.”
“I hope that they appreciated the work that’s been done,” she said, “and also that they appreciate that we ran a very positive campaign based on our experience, and the value that we brought to the table.”
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