The 2022 Midterms are finally here and there are so many interesting City races to discuss. Redistricting has changed the game for many incumbents, causing some “safe” seats to become competitive and forcing some representatives out of their districts entirely.
Below are some of the city elections — namely races for city council, mayor, and city attorney — that we’ll be watching today.
When you're done with the list, be sure to check out our breakdown of county races at CaliforniaCountyNews.org.
LOS ANGELES MAYOR
The latest UC Berkeley IGS poll showed developer Rick Caruso closing in on Democratic Rep. Karen Bass in the final stretch of the campaign. Bass still holds a lead, but it’s not the double-digit edge she once enjoyed.
The self-funded Caruso has spent nearly $100 million on this campaign, allowing for a steady ad blitz. That has helped him close ranks with previously undecided voters. The rest comes down to turnout.
Crime, homelessness, and corruption have been the central issues in this campaign. All of them are on the rise. Caruso has vowed to hire 1,500 additional police officers and house 30,000 people in 300 days. Those are heavily ambitious plans, and perhaps impossible to achieve. But give it to Caruso—he knows what the voters want to hear.
LA CITY ATTORNEY
This is another race featuring a candidate with boatloads of his own cash. Faisal Gill has spent around $1.6 million from his own pocket trying to win this seat. Gill finished first in the June primary. His opponent in the General Election is Hydee Feldstein Soto. Both of them are Democrats.
Gill touts his time as a civil rights attorney. Though he is a former pro-life Republican, he now has the support of the Democratic Party’s Left flank. He’s promised to pause prosecution of most misdemeanor crimes for 100 days and will not enforce the cleanup of homeless encampments near daycares and schools.
Feldstein Soto has an array of endorsements including Planned Parenthood, the Los Angeles Democratic Party, all major newspapers, and both business and labor groups. As City Attorney, she says she’ll go after no-bid contracts that foster corruption and drive up the cost of homeless housing. She has vowed to protect LA’s most vulnerable — senior citizens, hate crime victims, and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Like LA Mayor, this is a wide-open race. The winner will succeed Mike Feuer and assume leadership of an office that has been steeped in scandal.
LA CITY CONTROLLER
Termed-out City Councilmember Paul Koretz is running against outsider Kenneth Mejia in the race to succeed Controller Ron Galperin. There’s a 36-year age gap between the two candidates and it shows.
Mejia is incredibly PR-savvy and he has used his command of social media to reach voters far and wide. He has circulated graphics and digital ads highlighting the corruption and inefficiencies at City Hall. He paints Koretz as part of a larger problem of entrenched city leaders. Especially after LA’s racist leaked tape scandal, anti-incumbent sentiment is high.
Koretz has the support of the city’s former controllers and the establishment at large. He has hit Mejia over his past comments about Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, as well as his role in raucous protests at LA City Hall and outside public officials’ homes. Mejia supported Jill Stein for President in 2016 and circulated images of Clinton in a jumpsuit behind bars. He falsely accused Biden of being a “rapist.”
LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL
Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri are vying to replace termed-out Paul Koretz in District 5, which consists of West Los Angeles and part of the San Fernando Valley.
Both candidates are lawyers. Both of them are Democrats. Yaroslavsky worked for Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for more than six years. Yebri is a former Los Angeles Civil Service Commission member who also served on the city attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
The LA Democratic Party, Karen Bass, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor are behind Yaroslavsky. Yebri has support from former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Controller Ron Galperin, police and firefighter unions, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the Los Angeles County Business Federation.
The hottest City Council race is taking place in District 11 where centrist Democrat Traci Park and progressive Erin Darling are competing to succeed Mike Bonin, who is not running for re-election. Bonin and the county’s Democratic Party have endorsed Darling, a housing-first advocate who began his career at the Eviction Defense Network. Darling promises to support rental protections and speed up homeless housing development. Park wants to clean up the district’s sprawling encampments, scale up emergency housing, and support police officers.
CD-13 is another one of those Dem establishment versus progressive match-ups. Incumbent Mitch O’Farrell is fighting for political survival against labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez.
Soto-Martinez is backed by the LA chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and won an endorsement from O’Farrell’s colleague in CD-4 Nithya Raman. Soto-Martinez has accused O’Farrell of being too cozy with real estate developers and has gone after O’Farrell for the controversial cleanup of a homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake. Soto-Martinez wants fewer police and opposes the ban on homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers.
O’Farrell has endorsements from a number of labor unions, including Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West. He also has support from the police and fire unions, as well as Equality California.
LONG BEACH MAYOR
The Long Beach Mayor’s race features two longtime city council members, Rex Richardson and Suzy Price. The major issues in this race are crime, homelessness and the city’s $40 million deficit.
The Democratic Party and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia have endorsed Richardson. The Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, BizFed PAC, and the Long Beach Police Officers Association have lined up behind Price.
There are multiple Long Beach City Council races also worth noting. You can read about them at the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Four candidates are vying to replace Harry Sidhu, who resigned in May amid a public corruption scandal. The candidates are:
- Former federal prosecutor Ashleigh Aitken
- Former City Councilmember Lorri Galloway
- District 6 Councilmember Trevor O’Neil
- Water systems operator Dick Lopez
Like every city, crime and homelessness are major issues in Anaheim. But the corruption scandal is also central to this race.
Aitken, who finished second behind Sidhu in the 2018 mayor’s race, is now the frontrunner. She’s been endorsed by prominent Democrats and the Orange County Register.
Galloway was also in that race, finishing third. She is a Democrat, but moderate to conservative on fiscal issues.
O’Neil has long been seen as an ally of Sidhu and has ties to the very ‘cabal’ featured in an FBI affidavit. He has since tried to distance himself from the former mayor. He is supported by the Anaheim Taxpayers Association and the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County. O’Neil’s critics fear a split vote between Aitken and Galloway could give him the seat.
HUNTINGTON BEACH CITY ATTORNEY
Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates is at risk of losing his job to one of his former deputies, who won a $2.5 million age discrimination settlement against him.
The bombastic Gates has clashed with members of the City Council since assuming office and cost the city millions in legal fees.
Some of those fees went to Gates’ opponent in this race, Scott Field, a former deputy city attorney who also served as city attorney of Temecula and Mission Viejo. Field claims Gates created a hostile workplace when he was there. Older and disabled attorneys were discriminated against, he says, resulting in his demotion twice by Gates.
As City News previously reported, an independent investigation by Craig Steele of Los Angeles-based law firm Richards, Watson & Gershon criticized Gates’ handling of Fields’ discrimination complaint. Among other things, the report recommended clarifying the role of the city attorney. That has resulted in Measure 3 being placed on the November ballot.
Read more about the race for Huntington Beach City Attorney here.
COSTA MESA MAYOR
Mayor John Stephens, a Democrat, is facing a re-election challenge from former Orange County Supervisor and State Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican. Moorlach is running on fiscal stability, citing unfunded pension liabilities and debt reduction as his top priorities. Mayor Stephens cites public safety as his top issue.
San Bernardino Mayor
Non-profit leader Helen Tran and recalled former city attorney James F. Penman were the top two winners in the June primary, beating out embattled incumbent Mayor John Valdivia. They’re now competing in thistwo-person race.
Tran’s top issues are job creation, homelessness, and public safety. She has been endorsed by the San Bernardino County Democratic Party and many other organizations and public officials.
Penman’s top issues include fiscal responsibility, homelessness and public safety. He has been endorsed by former mayor Judith Valles.
Chula Vista Mayor
Political consultant Ammar Campa-Najjar and City Councilmember John McCann are in the race to succeed termed-out Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas.
Campa-Najjar is a Democrat, while McCann is a Republican. Both candidates cite public safety and homelessness among their top priorities.
Read about the candidates here.
Antioch City Council
Antioch has been dealing with turmoil. Mayor Lamar Thorpe was charged with two DUI-related misdemeanors this year. He has also been credibly accused of sexual harassment — allegations which he denies. Additionally, there are serious questions about police accountability and transparency in the city.
It’s amid this backdrop that voters are casting their ballots in two City Council races: District 1 and District 4. The outcome could alter the balance of power on the dais.
The candidates in District 1 are Tamisha Torres-Walker, Joy Motts, and Diane Gibson-Gray.
Torres-Walker is the incumbent. She’s also a community organizer and progressive activist. She was arrested more than 20 times in her youth and says her experience gave her a unique perspective on the issues facing people of color, the incarcerated, the unhoused, and other marginalized groups. She is considered part of a three-member voting bloc that includes Mayor Thorpe and Councilmember Monica E. Wilson. They supported the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which passed 3-2. If Torres-Walker loses this seat, Thorpe loses an important ally.
Joy Mott is a former member of the Antioch City Council. Her priorities are public safety and ‘building back’ the police department, while also protecting civil rights.
Gibson-Gray is a former school board trustee who has lambasted Thorpe and called for Torres-Walker’s resignation. She also says the police department is critically understaffed.
The candidates in District 4 are Lori Ogorchock, Shawn Pickett, Monica E Wilson, and Sandra G. White.
Monica Wilson is the incumbent and she’s part of that voting bloc that includes Mayor Thorpe and Torres-Walker.
Ogorchock is the council member from District 3, but she’s now running in the 4th District due to redistricting. She is part of the Council’s minority bloc which voted against the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. She has publicly called for Mayor Thorpe to resign.
Pickett is a retired Richmond police lieutenant. Public safety is his top concern. Sandra G. White chairs Antioch’s Police Crime Prevention Commission.
Read more about the candidates here.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is termed out of office and there are 10 candidates vying to replace her. The front-runners are both Democrats: Loren Taylor, biomedical engineering consultant, and Sheng Thao, District 4 Council Member.
Taylor has been endorsed by many Big City mayors including Schaaf herself. Thao is backed by the county’s Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood, labor leader Delores Huerta and others. This is going to be a close race.
San Jose Mayor
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San Jose Councilman Matt Mahan are running to replace termed-out Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Mahan is newer to politics, having been elected to the Council in 2021. He has the backing of Mayor Liccardo.
Chavez has been in public service for many years and has touted her experience. She’s endorsed by the Santa Clara Democratic Party and a host of Democratic leaders.
Public safety and homelessness are the top issues for both candidates. Learn more about the candidates’ views here.
SAN JOSE CITY COUNCIL
The match-up between Irene Smith and Omar Torres in District 3 has gotten ugly. Smith is accused of sending out “racist” mailers, which were formally condemned by a group of leaders in Silicon Valley.
Smith and Torres are vying to replace termed-out Councilmember Raul Peralez who represents downtown San Jose. Smith is a landlord and businesswoman. Torres is a healthcare worker who volunteered on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.
District 5 (East San Jose) is another wipe-open race because Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco is termed out.
Santa Clara County Board of Education President Peter Ortiz and former Assemblymember Nora Campos moved on to the General Election after the June Primary. Both candidates are Democrats. Carrasco has endorsed Ortiz, who is also supported by the Santa Clara County Democratic Party. Campos is backed by State Sen. Dave Cortese, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, and the unions that represent police and firefighters.
FOLSOM CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5
A judge rejected a petition Thursday from the City of Folsom that sought to have District 5 Councilmember and Mayor Kerri Howell removed from the November 8 ballot. That means we’ve still got a head-to-head match-up between Howell and Anna Rohrbough.
The City had alleged that Howell had a fellow council member help gather signatures for her campaign, which would be against the law. In rejecting the petition, the judge said that complaint would have had to be submitted by a voter, not the City.
This is Folsom’s first district-based City Council election. Water and development are major issues. Howell is a Democrat, but describes herself as financially conservative, so “middle of the road.” Rohrbough is endorsed by the Sacramento County GOP.
Read more about the candidates at the Sacramento Bee.
SACRAMENTO CITY COUNCIL
There are three open seats on the eight-member Sacramento City Council.
District 1 (North Natomas) Councilmember Angelique Ashby is running for State Senate. Two moderate Democrats — Lisa Kaplan and Alyssa Lozano — are in the race to replace her.
Kaplan is a Natomas Unified School Board trustee. The Sacramento Bee reports that Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, California Apartment Association, California Real Estate PAC, and police and firefighter unions have all donated to her campaign.
Lozano is a realtor and head of the Natomas Chamber of Commerce. She has received contributions from Rep. Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and former State Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento).
Homelessness is the #1 issue in this district. Both candidates support Measure O, which prohibits camping in public and certain private areas if the person has refused emergency shelter. It also requires the city to provide a certain number of shelter beds.
In Distritct 3 (South Natomas, Gardenland and Northgate) Karina Talamantes and Michael Lynch are running to replace Jeff Harris whose home was cut out of District 3 by redistricting.
Talamantes is Ashby’s chief of staff and sits on the Sacramento County Board of Education. She has support from Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the county’s Democratic Party, embattled Councilmember Sean Loloee, and the Council’s most far-Left member Katie Valenzuela. Although Ashby is known for being a centrist, Talamantes is seen as the more progressive candidate in this race. However, she supports Measure O.
Lynch heads a large youth nonprofit, and has received donations from the California Real Estate PAC, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the California Apartment Association. She also supports Measure O.
Longtime District 5 Councilmember Jay Schenirer is not seeking re-election. This district — which encompasses Oak Park, Hollywood Park, and parts of south Sacramento — will either be represented by Caity Maple or Tamiko Heim come January.
Both candidates are Democrats, but Maple is the more progressive of the two. The homeless advocate and former marijuana lobbyist identifies as a Democratic Socialist. She’s been endorsed by Valenzuela, Talamantes and the Democratic Party of Sacramento. She opposes Measure O.
Heim, an Active Transportation Commission member, is the more moderate choice. She has been endorsed by Mayor Steinberg, the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Mark Friedman, and real estate groups. She supports Measure O.
Redding City Council
Ten candidates are running for three seats on the Redding City Council, which still elects its members at large. Councilmember Erin Resner is running for county supervisor and Mayor Kristen Schreder isn’t seeking re-election.
Michael Dacquisto is the only incumbent running. He has faced questions about his residency and meeting attendance.
The 9 other candidates are Tenessa Audette, an aide to Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle; teacher James Crockett; Shasta County Deputy Clerk Ian Hill (the only Democrat); business owner Joshua Johnson; retired cop Jack Munns; retired business owner Marcus Partin; housing finance professional Alex Shea; business owner Jordan Valenzuela; and educator Kymberly Vollmers.
Read about the candidates and their priorities at the Record Searchlight.