Last year, the Orange City Council cancelled the November council elections for the first time in its history due to a lack of candidates; only the mayor and two incumbent councilmembers filed candidacy papers. It’s unlikely to encounter the same problem in 2018, as there is already a large field of potential candidates lining up to run.
Orange has a five-seat council elected at-large: four council members and a directly-elected mayor who serves two-year terms (which is the norm in Orange County for directly-elected mayors). The two seats are up next year are currently held by Councilmembers Fred Whitaker and Kimberlee Nichols. Whitaker is termed out, so operating on the assumption Nichols will seek re-election, there will be one open council seat.
Orange is conservative, community-oriented town that favors candidates who have lived in the city for a long, long time and are active in the community. Former Mayor Carolyn Cavecche used to joke that Orange resident viewed her as a carpetbagger because she wasn’t born at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Here’s a run-down of potential candidates rumored to be running, in no particular order :
Bilodeau served on the Orange City Council from 2006 to 2014 (first ran unsuccessfully in 2004), and was a member of the Planning Commission prior to that. He’s currently also an elected member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors and works as chief of staff to 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson. He’s remained active in city politics in the interim, helping to organize a group of property owners who were being adversely impacted by proposed changes to the general plan. He and his kids have been active for years in the Orange YMCA Indian Princess program.
Barrios has also lived in Orange her entire life; she and her husband Brian Lochrie own CommLAB, a leading OC public affairs firm. Both are very involved in the community: running the Orange International Street Fair, in the Community Foundation of Orange, and Boy Scouts, among others.
Barrios was appointed to the Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustees in 2011, was elected to a full term in 2012 and re-elected to a second full term last November. When contacted by OC Daily, Barrios confirmed she is seriously considering a council bid in 2018.
Another former councilman, Dumitru is a life-long Orange resident and is a fire communications dispatcher for the Orange County Fire Authority. He was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. While a councilman, he mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for mayor, challenging Mayor Carolyn Cavecche in 2010 and Mayor Tita Smith in 2012, and lost badly in each race. During his council tenure, Dumitru also mounted abortive candidacies for state Assembly and Orange County Clerk-Recorder. In 2014, he unsuccessfully attempted a comeback to city council, finishing third behind Whitaker and Nichols.
Bilodeau and Dumitru were close political allies while serving on the council together, working in tandem as a voting bloc. If they both end of running for the open seat, it will add an interesting dynamic to the race.
Glasgow is a local businessman who owns a general contracting business. He is a conservative Republican and was appointed to the Orange Planning Commission a few years ago by Councilman Fred Whitaker.
Correa is an Assistant Planner with the City of Rancho Cucamongo who was appointed to the Planning Commission several year ago by Councilman Mike Alvarez. Correa’s opposition to the proposed Rio Santiago development – which would have replaced a sand and gravel extraction operation in east Orange – earned praise from no-growth quarters such as the Orange Park Acres Association and the Foothill Sentry community paper.
Correa ran for the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees last year in Area 2, losing to incumbent John Ortega by 25 points.
Another name being mentioned as a possible candidate is Dave Simpson, a government relations manager for the Orange County Transportation Authority and another member of the Planning Commission (to which he was appointed by Councilwoman Kimberlee Nichols). Simpson and his family live in east Orange; he is a member of the Orange Elks Lodge and is active with his daughters in the Orange YMCA Indian Princess program.