PLACENTIA — Placentia Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi was re-elected to the City Council on Nov. 8.
Out of nine candidates, the top three were elected: Retired Police Chief Ward Smith with 7,270 votes (16.2 percent), Yamaguchi with 7,241 (16.1 percent), and insurance agent Rhonda Shader with 5,737 (12.8 percent).
The other candidates were small businessman/CPA Chris Bunker, Planning Commissioner Thomas Solomonson, business owner Kevin Kirwin, retired engineering manager Robert McKinnell, retired federal auditor Fabian Fragiao, and industrial manufacturer executive Blake Montero.
Yamaguchi’s endorsers included Rep. Ed Royce (R-Brea), City Treasurer Craig Green, former City Treasurer Lee Castner, and The Orange County Register, which said in an Oct. 30 editorial:
“Placentia has certainly had its financial woes in recent years. Since 2000, it has suffered from two recessions, the calamitous OnTrac project to trench five miles of train tracks — which turned into a $54.4 million sinkhole that put the city into heavy debt — and an embezzlement scandal involving a financial services manager that cost the city nearly $5 million.
“Nevertheless, the city’s financial situation is improving as it begins to get out from under its debts. The business climate has been getting better, code enforcement is no longer overly aggressive, as it was in years past, and there are opportunities to revitalize the downtown area.
“Among the nine candidates vying for three seats on the council, we believe lone incumbent and current Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi deserves some credit for the city’s relative stability and turnaround, and we endorse him for a third term on the council. Yamaguchi sees his role on the council as a watchdog for residents, fighting for private property rights and opposing taxes and overbearing regulations on businesses and residents.”
The newspaper also endorsed Shader and McKinnell.
One of the youngest elected officials in California and the youngest in Orange County history, Yamaguchi was first elected to a four-year term on the City Council in November 2008 at the age of 19, running in a race with six candidates for three open seats and receiving the highest vote count.
Before entering high school, he was involved with the Placentia Neighborhood Watch, Placentia Heritage Parade and Festival, Placentia Cultural Arts Commission, Placentia Chamber of Commerce, and the Placentia Police Department, among other organizations.
Yamaguchi attributes much of his success to his time in the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his Eagle Scout award in 2006, was named in 2007 as California Scout of the Year by Veterans of Foreign Wars, served on the board of Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council, and served as Southern California section chief to the National Boy Scouts of America, Order of the Arrow.
He graduated from Placentia’s El Dorado High School in 2007 with numerous honors and distinctions, including a record 3,000 community service hours. He recently graduated from CSU Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in political science. On campus, he was an officer of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society and a member of the CSUF Pre-law Society and the Phi Beta Delta honor society for international scholars.
Yamaguchi now owns and operates his own full-service production company in Orange County. The Placentia Chamber of Commerce honored him as Citizen of the Year in 2006 for his volunteer efforts in the community; he was the youngest person to receive the award.
He also received the Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Award from a nomination by the Disneyland Resort and was honored in 2009 by the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE) with the Rising Star Award.
His personal motto is “I have pride in our past, faith in our future and a vision for a more stable and secure community.”
Orange County Results
A number of other Asian American candidates were on the ballot, including:
Orange County Board of Supervisors, 1st District — Incumbent Andrew Do defeated Santa Ana City Councilmember Michele Martinez, 51,352 votes (53.1 percent) to 45,281 (46.9 percent). Do has served as supervisor since winning a special election last year to succeed Janet Nguyen, who was elected to the State Senate. The district covers Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Westminster and parts of Fountain Valley.
Do’s win maintains the Asian American majority on the five-member Board of Supervisors. Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett (5th District) is Japanese American and Vice Chair Michelle Steel (2nd District) is Korean American. All three, as well as Supervisors Todd Spitzer (3rd District) and Shawn Nelson (4th District), are Republicans.
Aliso Viejo City Council — Incumbent Ross Chun was re-elected with 7,581 votes (23.1 percent), finishing in third place. Also re-elected were William Phillips with 8,494 (25.9 percent) and Mike Munzig with 10,634 (32.4 percent). Mary Rios was in fourth place.
Garden Grove City Council, District 3 (short term) — Thu-Ha Nguyen beat Clay Block, 4,305 (66.7 percent) to 2,149 (33.3 percent).
Garden Grove City Council, District 6 — Kim Bernice Nguyen defeated Rickk Montoya, 2,830 (57.3 percent) to 2,113 (42.7 percent).
Irvine Mayor — Gang Chen finished in third place with 10,560 (14.5 percent) and David Chey fifth and last with 2,742 (3.8 percent). The winner was Donald Wagner. Mary Ann Gaido was in second place and Katherine Daigle was in fourth place.
Irvine City Council — In an 11-way race for two seats, Anthony Kuo finished in third place with 19,863 (15.5 percent), Farrah Khan was fourth with 14,908 (11.6 percent), Dale Cheema was seventh with 8,184 (6.4 percent) and Hyunjoung “Genii” Ahn was 10th with 4,153 (3.2 percent). The winners were incumbent Christina Shea and Melissa Fox.
La Palma City Council — Incumbent Peter Kim was re-elected with 3,790 (35.1 percent). Also elected were incumbent Gerard Goedhart with 3,841 (35.6 percent) and Marshall Goodman with 3,156 (29.3 percent). There were no other candidates.
Santa Ana City Council, Ward 1 — Jessica Cha unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Vicente Sarmiento, 25,214 (45.1 percent) to 30,746 (54.9 percent).
Westminster Mayor — Incumbent Tri Ta was re-elected with 14,960 (56.9 percent), followed by Margie Rice with 8,447 (32.1 percent) and two other challengers.
Westminster City Council — In a seven-way race for two seats, Kimberly Ho came in second with 11,521 (25.8 percent), behind incumbent Sergio Contreras with 12,989 (29.1 percent). Incumbent Diana Lee Carey was third with 7,384 (16.5 percent), followed by Mark Lawrence with 5,033 (11.3 percent), Tommy Luong with 3,246 (7.3 percent), Samantha Bao Anh Nguyen with 2,835 (6.3 percent), and Linh Le with 1,704 (3.8 percent).
Coast Community College Governing Board, Trustee Area 2 — Vong Xavier Nguyen lost to incumbent Jerry Patterson, 67,433 (33.3 percent) to 136,020 (66.7 percent).
Coast Community College Governing Board, Trustee Area 4 — Jonathan Bao Huynh lost to incumbent Mary Hornbuckle, 67,176 (34.3 percent) to 128,467 (65.7 percent).
Rancho Santiago Community College District Governing Board, Trustee Area 5 — Steven Nguyen lost to incumbent Claudia Alvarez, 7.325 (38.9 percent) to 7,041 (42.1 percent). Cecilia “Ceci” Aguinaga was third with 3,358 (20.1 percent).
Garden Grove Unified School District Governing Board, Trustee Area 5 — Dina Nguyen won with 6,713 (52.0 percent), followed by incumbent Linda Paulsen-Reed with 4,728 (36.6 percent) and Omar Montanez Ablouj with 1,474 (11.4 percent).
Saddleback Valley Unified School District Governing Board — In a six-way race for three seats, Edward Wong was second with 36,249 (21.2 percent). Incumbents Suzie Swartz and Amanda Morrell were first and third, respectively. Also running were David Johnson, Mark Tettemer and Theo Hunt.
Fullerton Joint Union High School District Governing Board, Trustee Area 3 — Faith Sarupa Mukherjee lost to incumbent Andy Montoya, 1,491 (12.9 percent) to 10,038 (87.1 percent).
Huntington Beach Union High School District Governing Board — In a five-way race for two seats, Trung Ta was third with 24,364 (13.7 percent). The winners were incumbents Michael Simons and Susan Henry. Saul Lankster and Colin Melott also ran.
Ocean View School District Governing Board — In a five-way race for two seats, Amalia Lam was in last place with 6,085 (11.6 percent). The winners were incumbent Gina Clayton-Tarvin and Norm Westwell, followed by Patricia Singer and Kathryn Gonzalez.
Westminster School District — In a three-way race for two seats, Frances Nguyen was elected with 11,140 (32.6 percent) and incumbent Jamison Power was re-elected with 14,078 (41.2 percent). Karl Truong was third with 8,992 (26.3 percent).
Midway City Sanitary District — Chi Charlie Nguyen was elected with 10,281 (23.4 percent) and incumbent Al Krippner was re-elected with 11,407 (26.0 percent). Samantha Bao Anh Nguyen was in fifth place with 5,668 (12.9 percent). Incumbent Joy Neugebauer was third and Anita Rice was fourth.
Orange County Water District, Division 3 — Incumbent Roger Yoh defeated Peter Kim, 38,070 (53.3 percent) to 33,398 (46.7 percent).
Municipal Water District of Orange County, Division 7 — Megan Yoo Schneider won with 44,165 (42.6 percent), followed by Raymond Miller, Evan Chaffee and Richard Gardner.