By Breeana Greenberg
Democratic incumbent Katrina Foley and Republican challenger Patricia Bates are facing off in the race for Fifth Supervisorial District of the Orange County Board of Supervisors this November.
The Fifth District represents the South County cities of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, as well as Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa, with parts of Lake Forest and Irvine.
Foley, who has served as the representative for the Second Supervisorial District since March 2021, is seeking reelection to now represent District 5 after last year’s redistricting put her home city of Costa Mesa in the newly redrawn District 5.
Foley previously served as a mayor and councilmember of Costa Mesa and was also a trustee on the Newport Mesa School District’s governing board.
Reflecting on her first term as supervisor, Foley said she is most proud of the audit she conducted on the county’s funding of homelessness and mental health treatment services, as well as the county’s response to the roughly 126,000 gallons of crude oil that leaked near Huntington Beach a year ago this month.
If reelected, four main issues that Foley would like to focus on are the harbor redevelopments; coastal erosion at Capistrano Beach; moving the spent nuclear waste out of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and completely closing down of the plant; and supporting the Orange County Sherriff’s Department in keeping the community safe.
As the first mayor of Laguna Niguel, Bates helped to incorporate the city in 1989 and served four terms as mayor. Following her time on the City Council, Bates was elected to the State Assembly, representing the 73rd District.
Bates, who currently serves as a state senator for California’s 36th District, previously held the position of Fifth District supervisor from 2007 to 2014.
Following her term on the OC Board, Bates was elected to the State Senate in 2014. During her tenure as a senator, Bates is proud to have authored measures that crack down on sex offenders, distributors of fentanyl, and protecting those seeking addiction treatment.
If elected to represent the Fifth District once again, Bates has stated that she’d prioritize increasing public safety, protecting the county’s coastlines and protecting taxpayers from waste and fraud in government.
In addressing coastal erosion, Bates has previously stated that “bluff safety is crucial to save lives and preserve beach access, which is an integral part of the Fifth District’s economy and way of life.”
Bates noted that the county should apply for Senate Bill 1 funds, which are meant to financially support California’s coastal communities that are addressing sea-level rise. Such funds, she said, would support sand replenishment efforts “to save beaches and protect vulnerable infrastructure such as our coastal rail lines and roadways.”
As residents, business owners and voters alike have voiced concerns with lack of transparency with the Dana Point Harbor Revitalization project, Foley says she’s spoken with the Harbor Partners to address the issue.
“I think that they do need to do a better job of communicating progress to the public,” Foley says. “I’m an open book when it comes to these kinds of projects; I like to communicate more, rather than less, so you’ll probably see a lot of communication coming out of my office related to status updates related to where the funding is coming from, the timeline for improvement.”
Residents have also voiced concern that the 241 Toll Road could still get extended despite the County Board, Orange County Transportation Authority and City of San Clemente entering into a cooperative agreement aimed at preventing such an occurrence.
In response, Foley noted that she is against a toll road expansion into neighborhoods.
“I have a record of protecting businesses and homes from eminent domain, and will fiercely defend the right of South County residents to self-determination,” Foley said. “I will continue to support the community cooperative agreement for road improvements, and reasonable measures to reduce traffic such as traffic light synchronization that is based on historic, as well as real-time traffic patterns.”
Bates has previously pushed for legislation to codify into law that the 241 end at Oso Parkway, which is where it presently stops and Los Patrones Parkway begins, essentially blocking an extension through San Clemente.
Per the cooperative agreement, Bates was asked by the City of San Clemente to withdraw the legislation. The agreement, which Bates supported, solidifies three ongoing traffic relief projects in South OC: extending Los Patrones as a free, non-tolled arterial road; adding carpool lanes on Interstate 5, between Avenida Pico and the San Diego County line; and widening Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.
In an email, Bates wrote that ensuring local governments and community members have a say in where private toll roads are placed “must be a collaborative effort to ensure protections of existing structures and protected open space.”
“I worked tirelessly with Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Orange County Transportation Authority and the City of San Clemente to bring about the cooperative agreement on the toll road issue and demonstrated that working together brings beneficial solutions,” Bates said.
“I remain committed to the cooperated agreement and the three-project plan of widening the I-5, widening Ortega Highway, and extending Los Patrones Parkway,” Bates said.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org