Fullerton City Hall

There are eight candidates competing for three Fullerton City Council seats this election season. (Eliza Green / Daily Titan) 

With nearly all the votes counted in a year of record high turnout, the Orange County 2020 election results only reinforce that an area once considered solidly Republican has turned into a battleground territory between the two parties.

In the state assembly, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva won reelection against Republican challenger Cynthia Thacker, holding onto the 65th District which includes Fullerton, Anaheim and as far south as Lake Forest.

The Fullerton City Council is also set for an interesting makeup moving into the next two years. With three seats up for grabs, two Republican libertarians and one Democrat managed to grab seats on the council, setting up a 3-2 majority for Democrats.

In the city’s 1st District, Fred Jung defeated Andrew Cho with over 51% of the vote, with over 300 votes ahead of his competitor.

In the city’s 2nd District, Nick Dunlap held a decisive lead over the competition since the first votes came in on Election Night, claiming just under half the total votes in the district to beat out the closest competition by over 3,000 votes.

In the city’s 5th District, long-time Councilman Bruce Whitaker is set to keep his seat, ahead by nearly 250 votes against challenger Aaruni Thakur, a lawyer who serves on the Fullerton School Board.

They will join Councilmen Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Silva, who were not up for election this year.

The city’s residents also rejected a controversial sales tax increase that city staff projected would have brought millions into a suffering city budget, setting up a big fight over finances for the incoming council.

With over 57% of voters moving against the increase, the new council will be faced with major financial decisions shortly after they enter the office. City staff project the council will have to cut $5 million out of the budget every year to stay solvent, and the city will still run out of reserves by 2025.

Fullerton’s elections represented that better than nearly any other city in the county, as voters tossed out incumbents on both sides of the aisle at the federal and state levels.

In the 39th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Fullerton, Buena Park, Yorba Linda, Placentia, portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, Republican challenger Young Kim won her race against Congressman Gil Cisneros, a rematch from 2018 where Cisneros managed to gain a narrow lead in the final days of the election.

As of Monday night, Kim is leading with 50.6% of the vote, just over 4,000 votes ahead of Cisneros after the congressman released his concession statement last week.

Kim will be the first of three Korean-American congresswomen alongside Michelle Steel, an Orange County supervisor who also won her race for federal office against incumbent Harley Rouda in California’s 48th Congressional District along the county coastline, and Washington Democrat Marilyn Strickland.

But in the state Senate race for the 29th District, which includes the same Orange County cities and separate counties along with portions of Anaheim, voters ousted Republican Ling-Ling Chang and reelected Democrat Josh Newman, who was recalled from the same seat in 2018 over his support of a controversial gas tax.

Newman scored 51.3% of the vote according to the California Secretary of State’s office, winning the district by over 10,000 votes.

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